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1921 __ "Out-of-the Studio" Broadcasting
Comment : “The outstanding feature of broad- casting during the present season is the large number of "out-of-the- studio" events that are being broadcasted by some of the larger stations through wire connections direct from the scene of action. Prominent among the events that have thus been given to the radio audience are the World Series baseball games and championship football contests; boxing matches; organ recitals, symphony concerts and grand opera, plays, banquets and civic exercises; addresses by famous men, church services; and even a message of the President to Congress. To say that the radio audience appreciates programmes of this sort is to put it mildly even the dyed-in-the-wool " DX amateur" admits that now there is something in broadcasting. Broadcasting is, in fact, entering into the third stage of its development. In the first stage, the phonograph is the main reliance. Practically all broadcasting stations started at this point, and many have never gotten beyond it. Phonographic programmes are simple and inexpensive. No special equipment is required except the actual transmitter, and no staff except the operators. A friendly music dealer, who hands out a dozen or so records every day in return for the mention of his name and address in the ether, provides the bulk of the entertainment. In the second stage of development, artists in person form the chief attraction. This is a greater step in advance than most listeners realize. First of all, there must be a place for the artists to perform in. The ordinary transmitting room is utterly unsuitable for such purposes, so that a studio must be provided. This studio should be well furnished; it must contain a piano and other musical instruments; and it ought to be made sound-proof and free from echoes. There must also be a competent staff to engage and receive the several thousand artists utilized every year by a station in daily operation ; and finally, there should be a musical director to select voices and arrange well balanced programmes. All this involves a good-sized organization and considerable expense. It was the studio that transformed broadcasting from a curiosity into a national institution of culture. By providing the proper accommodations, it made possible the transmission of solos and speeches of every description, concerts by full bands, orchestras, and choruses, and even oratorios and condensed operas. But its resources are not inexhaustible. After a programme manager has staged three or four different events every night for a year or so, he finds that he is milling around in a circle. His programmes have become monotonous even in their extreme variety, and real novelties are almost unobtainable. Then, those stations in a position to do so, take the third step and go out of the studio for their chief features. An immense field is thus opened up, especially for stations located in large cities, since experiments show that practically anything that is audible can be broadcasted in this manner. The use of wires to reach outside events originated with KDKA, the Westinghouse station at East Pittsburgh. As early as January, 1921, this station broadcasted services direct from Calvary Church, Pittsburgh, and in the same month, it sent out a speech by Secretary Hoover from the Duquesne Club of that city. A few weeks later, it transmitted a boxing contest direct from Duquesne Gardens, and the radio audience heard for the first time the shouts and applause of the spectators at an athletic event. In the following year, KYW, Chicago, made notable use of wire connections by broadcasting almost every performance of the Chicago Opera Company. This year, about a dozen other stations are undertaking this highest grade of service. The list will probably never be a long one because highly special apparatus and expert operators are needed for this work. I n addition, the cost of installing and renting the necessary wires is high. It is no easy matter to broadcast "out-of-the- studio" events successfully. In the studio, everything is under the control of the manager and all speakers and artists can be arranged with reference to the microphone. Outside, however, the broadcaster has no control, and he must arrange his transmitting apparatus to suit the messages to be transmitted. This means a very careful study of each "location." What are the acoustic properties of the scene of action? Will there be speakers? If so, how many? Where will they be? What sort of voices will they have? Is there much extraneous noise? If so, is it to be broadcasted (as with applause) or eliminated? Are there any special noises that are particularly wanted (as with the gong at a prize fight)? What sort of music will there be? Is it to be orchestral, organ, piano, or choral? Will there be solos? Is there to be great variation in the volume of music? All of these questions, and many more, must be correctly answered, and arrangements to cover every possible contingency must be made in advance, for there is little opportunity to make changes during the broadcasting, and every detail of the event must be transmitted perfectly or else the radio audience will protest most vigorously. When arrangements were being made to broadcast Clemenceau's speech at the Hotel Pennsylvania, for example, it was found that the "Tiger" always walked around when he spoke, so that no single microphone could catch all he said. Investigation showed, however, that the speaker would be confined to a narrow aisle formed between the long table at which he was to sit, and the wall. A string of a dozen microphones, concealed in the decorations, was placed on this table; and as Clemenceau paced up and down, the operator followed his movements by switching on one microphone after another. At football games, there is generally a microphone for the announcer, placed high up in the stands where a good view can be obtained, and two in the field, each opposite a students' section, for the cheers and songs. Some difficulty was experienced in making the announcer heard over the uproar, especially during critical plays, and the latest practice is to place him in a sound-proof booth. Theatrical plays are especially difficult to broadcast because the actors move over so large an area and have voices of such different qualities. Furthermore, the microphones can be located only in the footlights, wings, and prosceniums, and not directly on the stage where they should be. These difficulties are even greater in the case of grand opera, where the stage is apt to be much larger and the variation in tone much wider. But there is also another factor that is important; namely, the atmosphere of life that is transmitted. The artist or speaker in the studio is addressing a silent audience. When he indulges in humor, there is no laughter; when he scores a point, there is no sign of approval; and when he finishes, there is no applause. But when the affair is broadcasted in the presence of a real audience, both the speaker or artist and the radio audience feel the difference. The great difficulty with outside broadcasting is the poor acoustic conditions that are often encountered. Proper location of the microphone will sometimes remedy the worst defects, but there is usually a great deal of echoing and extraneous noises. The best artistic results will therefore always be obtained in the well-designed studio, until (which is more than likely to happen) theatres, churches, auditoriums, and other public places are specifically' designed with reference to broadcasting. Another difficulty is that, owing to the time schedules on which most stations operate, it is often necessary to close down in the middle of an interesting outside event. This always vastly irritates the radio audience, but it is never the fault of the stations doing the broadcasting. They always endeavor to obtain extension of time from the stations scheduled to follow them, but if this is refused, they have no option but to cut off. The remedy is obviously to give a free hand to those stations who are earnestly engaged in improving the quality of broadcasting. [...]”. (William H. Easton, In“RADIO BROADCAST”, Vol. 2, NOVEMBER, 1922, to APRIL, 1923, Garden City, N. Y., DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY, 1923, pp. 362-368)
Urls : http://www.archive.org/stream/radiobroadcast02gardrich/%23page/362/mode/2up (last visited )

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