“Are you sure this is going to work?!” “Nope.”

Radio training week One in Ghana

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Radio is all about listening. We spent the Tuesday morning with a group of students who are training for the GIJ student radio. Our first goal was to open  and sharpen our ears and learn to work with the one and most important sense that is needed in order create good radio.

We had interesting discussions about active listening skills and its features. We also pondered radio as a linear and time-reliant medium.  In the afternoon the students practiced their listening skills by focused listening and making observations of what they heard.

During the day we had some time to look closer to GIJ radio facilities. Our afternoon was preserved for enhancing and repairing the radio production room. There were couple of computers for audio editing that we cleaned and fixed. We also installed some software and updates.

Some of the students and national service officers are responsible for keeping the radio production running and maintaining the premises. We designed a maintenance and to-do list to make the editing facilities a little better.

It was nice to see that the radio studio is serving as the students learning environment every day and the production room is in intensive use. In the future it would be nice to redesign the production room so that there would be a few more computers and the most important of all proper listening facilities to do radio work.

Highlight of the day definitely was Sami’s food choice at the dinner. The traditional Ghanaian food “Light soup with seafood” contained some very interesting surprises especially because it was a bit dark and hard to see what one was eating. Tasty dinner although!

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On Wednesday we started the day with some basics of interviewing skills. Interview is one of the most common source for any journalistic work and particularly in radio.

Sami went to lecture to third year students about new media and transmedia. It was a new experience for him, since it was the first time he had to lecture to such large number of students (approx 100 of them) in a huge classroom. Aura continued the morning with the radio group with basic microphone skills and hands-on training with digital recorders.

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The group had already been divided into smaller groups for the next weeks radio project. Half of the students practiced audio skills with the digital recorders and the other half planned questions patterns for some interviews they are supposed to do next week. Students focused very well and were able to learn the new technical and journalistic skills very fast.

On Thursday morning we continued the assignments that had started yesterday. Two groups were doing recordings  and other two worked with the interview assignments. When assignments were ready we presented each groups question patterns to everyone and gave feedback for the planned interviews. We spent rest of the morning doing that and it seemed be useful to the group.

Students were more confident to ask more specific questions and taking part to general discussion. We found out that the ideas interviews and programs were very good, each smaller group had spent some time and effort planning those and they had been concentrating well. We were supposed to show the editing software in the morning but we postponed it the the afternoon class.

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After the lunch Sami gave his lecture in New Media again, this time to Public Relation students. Sami ran into the same challenge than on Wednesday. The classroom which was located in ground floor was very noisy due to the fans but even more due to general noise from the yard, where a big group students were having their recess. Basically Sami had to shout his lectures from start to end, and there were no opportunities to questions.

We met the radio students one more time in the afternoon after their lectures. Aura was introducing the group to the basics of audio editing and Audacity software. We distributed the software to students own laptops so that they were able to practice and eventually edit their own radio stories.

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Friday was our last training day with this group. We started the day by doing one more repeat of recording. This time Sami was the student and the group had to  teach him how to operate with digital recorder, step by step. Sami made a 3-minute long interview with one of the students, namely Asamoah.

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After that we distributed the recorded raw material to all the laptops that were available and students started to do their assignment, that was to edit the recorded interview with the Audacity. The group had only a bit more than one hour to do that. But every group did that.

 In the afternoon we took a brief walk-through in radio programming. We spoke a little about rotation wheel, a basic tool for designing a radio program, how it is constructed and how the clock is led to a running order.

The last exercise for the students was to get a little glimpse of on-air hosting. Since the studio is broadcasting constantly we had to improvise a little. We gathered all the audio devices and cables we could find and pulled together a tiny studio environment.

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With the classroom PA-system, a tiny mixer, one microphone and a student’s laptop with music in it did the thing and we were able to simulate a live situation in front of a real audience. Sami co-hosted the show with a brave volunteer giving a short example of a real radio work. This fun group work ended our radio training this week.

To summarize this week we could say that after the first day of getting to know each other it was inspiring and very educating for us teachers. We had several interesting conversations and got a good perspective to local young peoples world and to GIJs everyday life.

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Aura Neuvonen & Sami Huohvanainen
lecturers from Metropolia UAS

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