Working From Home: It Didn’t Work for Me
I know many people have been doing it this year, but it turns out I've got homework to do before I work from home again.
Like may businesses, we've been limiting office hours at the radio station since early in the year. We mail out prizes for people who win contests, and our sales staff has been exiled form the building. All of our meetings look like the Brady Bunch or Hollywood Squares on Zoom calls. Individually, our on-air work routines vary, but we generally do what we can at home before coming in to the studios to be on the radio. Since March we've had a back up plan, and I had to make use of it at the end of last week. I made it look good on social media, but working from home was not all I had hoped it would be. My home studio needs more work before I work from home on a regular basis.
Like everyone else on-air, last March I was issued a laptop with a USB microphone and the password for the VPN. Until last week, I had only used the laptop to check email, update the website, publish articles and poke around the internet to see what was going on in the world. (I might have spent some time on Facebook looking at mountain bike and pinball groups too.) I never accessed the radio station interface from home. I figured that part out pretty easily, but it turns out things were much more complicated.
The workings of the system are pretty straightforward. Essentially, I click between the songs where I want to talk. I record what I'm going to say and, kind of like an audio email, a file gets sent to the station and saved on the program log. As long as we keep just a couple of minutes ahead of what's happening, everything works fine. It wasn't the timing that was a problem working from home, it was the environment. When I listened back, it sounded like I was inside the bathroom. My third bedroom is not very big, but the echo was cavernous. There isn't a lot of furniture in the room, as you can see, just a television, CD rack, the kitchen table that I use for a desk and the pinball machine. It sounded like I was shouting in an empty auditorium. If you've ever talked through the wrapping paper roll at Christmas, you've got a good idea of what it sounded like.
Now, the clock is ticking. We're rolling through songs and I've got to figure out a way to dampen the sound that is bouncing off the walls at home. In the studio, we have foam acoustic panels on the walls that are designed to do just this. At home, I had to make due with what I had on hand. First, I stepped into the closet to see if it might be better there and it was...a little. Still not completely satisfied, I brought up an old ladder from the basement and threw a blanket over the top. I slid my laptop with USB microphone and headphones plugged in under the blanket and then crawled in myself. It was just like being in a fort when you were a kid. It sounded great.
So, even though the pictures I posted on Facebook looked like I was cranking up some Classic Rock between runs at the high score on Top Card and relaxing, I actually had to crawl under the pinball machine and was sitting under the blanket talking to you. Borderline TMI: it was hot under there. I was more than happy to be back in the RKR studios on Monday, standing fully upright and playing the Classics. I've got some work to do at home before I work from home again.
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