Welcome to Line Up – the only online resource dedicated to audio for broadcast.
Everyone’s route into a career in audio is unique and once you pass a certain age it seems that the need to communicate that story gets stronger and stronger. It is a source of great entertainment to hear an established audio pro tell you the tale of how they found themselves where they are today. These are stories of persistence, chance, happenstance, coincidence, really peculiar coincidence, good fortune, some strange affiliations, friendships, acquaintances, being in the right place at the right time, someone else’s misfortune, plain old luck, aptitude and skill, being able to muck along and fit in, being diplomatic, having good people skills, being trustworthy, having an insight into a project and, above all, an insatiable desire to work in the world of sound. It’s a fact that everyone will tell you that theirs was no ‘normal’ route into a job in audio; in many cases it has more to do with a fluke that worked in their favour than any planned scientific campaign.
The reason nobody has a normal route to an audio job is because there has never really been one. There was a time when broadcasters took trainees in in batches, some of which were drawn (sometimes almost accidentally) to audio but many more went to other departments and other job skills and disciplines. Without banging the ‘it was better then’ gong, the broadcast world was smaller and more hidden from outsiders even 30 years ago and within that broadcast world audio was an even smaller part. There were no music technology and media studies courses in schools but there might have been woodwork and metalwork.
Consider this; do you think if you were starting off again today that you would still be successful in making a career in sound in the current climate and market?
To use a particularly grating X-Factor phrase, the young today ‘want it’ about as much as we did and they probably have a bit more idea about what ‘it’ the job is, as opposed to those stumbling voyages of good fortune discovery that we all benefitted from. The broadcast world has done a great job of making itself bigger in everyone’s consciousness with its morphing between formats and all delivery methods – you can listen to the same 20 minutes of news anywhere in the world. And because we do have audio-aware courses within schools now we have many more audio hopefuls lining up for all those apprenticeships, training programmes and mentorships that we all know that there aren’t that many of. This is the prospect for the young – too many chasing too few jobs. Contrast this to a time when there weren’t that many jobs being chased by a few at a point where technologies were changing and new roles were being defined for audio; some of the jobs we take for granted didn’t even exist. We are now enjoying the benefits of mature technology as it cuts staffing levels in the name of efficiency.
I think that truly committed and driven budding audio careerists still have a chance to make a living out of our industry although it might not look quite the way they thought it would. I believe that audio education in schools generates an awareness of sound but I’m not convinced that all those will target audio for a job. Audio is easier to teach and demonstrate at schools -– particularly against everyone’s awareness of music – than cameras, picture editing, scripting or CGI. Bizarrely enough audio may serve as the introduction to the wider world of media production for novices. Whatever there route to work, they will still need a dollop of good fortune as they will tell anyone who would listen in years to come.
Zenon Schoepe, Executive Editor