Radio Documentary Training

Last weekend I attended a radio documentary training course in the radio centre in RTE. The course was delivered by the “doc on one team”, made up of six documentary makers and producers. For anybody who doesn’t already know, a 40 minute documentary is broadcast weekly, as well as a short documentary as part of a series called ‘the curious ear’. There is a great variety of topics covered, and the documentary team have won many awards. You can find out more about the work that they do, and listen to over 1000 documentaries on their website
which is definitely worth checking out.

The course ran from 9.30 until 6 PM both days, but it was so interesting that it didn’t feel long at all. We explored everything from coming up with the initial documentary idea, to recording and interview techniques, script writing and structuring the documentary, editing, choosing the music, use of sound effects and pitching ideas to RTE. This was something I found interesting, because I wasn’t aware that so much of their work comes from independent producers and members of the public. If your idea gets chosen, the documentary team will help you to put the documentary together. I’d love to do this sometime, because if you’re working in documentary making, these are the best teachers you could have in Ireland. There was an opportunity after every session to ask questions, and I learned a lot from this, as people often asked things that I was curious about myself. Their was an audio equipment company there who had equipment on display for people to look at and ask questions. I avoided it completely as I would only be tempted and don’t have the spare money I would need to buy all the things I want. They raffled a digital recorder, but of course I didn’t win.

Everybody was so helpful to myself and O.J during the weekend. Going into a big studio with at least 130 people that I didn’t know at all was a bit scarey at first, but I wasn’t going to let it put me off, and after about two minutes we were both completely relaxed. The staff brought my tea and coffee so we didn’t have to move around much, and accompanied me to the canteen for lunch, spending time talking and getting to know us. I met some very interesting people during both days. O.J behaved very well, considering he was sleeping on a hard floor for so long. He was happy to get back to my uncle’s house in the evening, where he could run around outside and get lots of attention.

The weekend was very informative and educational. It was one of those ones that you pay your money for, they deliver it, and you can take as much as you want away from it. It has made be listen to documentaries in a different way, paying more attention to particular things. It has also made me think about how I can record, edit and produce audio as a blind person. There are some limitations, and I wouldn’t be able to use all the equipment and things that they recommend, but its still definitely possible. Its the area of radio I’m most interested in, so hopefully someday I can do more of it. So many people in Ireland have so many great stories that are just waiting to be told.