Small Things Considered

The public-affairs show that airs early tomorrow morning uses a bit of audio trickery. In order to get the first interview on the publicity tour for “The Inquisitor’s Key,” I recorded the program last Tuesday, a week before co-author Jon Jefferson will travel to Knoxville. He would be on the phone from his home in Florida while Dr. Bill Bass joined me in-studio.

Years ago, my friend Maureen told me about NPR’s “tape sync” technique. They would record the host’s voice as he or she conducted a phone interview with a guest who was hundreds or thousands of miles away. Back then, the guest would go to a local NPR affiliate or other studio where their half of the conversation was recorded. The tape got shipped back to headquarters where the two tracks were synchronized to make it sound like the host and guest were in the same room.

For tomorrow’s program, Jon spoke into his phone while simultaneously speaking into a digital recorder. When the half-hour interview ended, he popped the memory card out of the recorder and into his computer. He uploaded the MP3 file to and shared the folder with me. In the book, an artist from NCMEC shares a large image file with Dr. Bill Brockton via Dropbox.

My file had the studio microphones in the left channel and the sound from the phone in the right channel. I deleted the phone track and replaced it with the file from Jon’s recorder. I used a still-working version of Cool Edit Pro software to amplify and compress Jon’s voice and to combine the tracks into a monaural file. I’ll post it as a podcast tomorrow.

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