The idea for the KUER Sound Booth was initiated by the marketing department in 2014. We wanted to find a way to engage with people who visited our table at local events, and thought of incorporating an audio element, inspired by the StoryCorps mobile sound booth. The initial recording setup was simple — a microphone, headphones, and a laptop with Adobe Audition. We soon realized we needed a structure because events are loud and participants are less willing to be candid if they are out in the open.
We got in contact with a local event rental company that was willing to design us a structure from scratch, brand it with our logo, and set up/break down the structure at a predetermined number of events each year, entirely on trade.
One activity we do is the Neverending Story. A participant enters the booth, and is given a question prompt. They answer, and then come up with their own question for the next participant. The cycle continues for the duration of the event. Afterwards, staff edit the audio, compile it together, post the final “Neverending Story” on our website, and share it with the participants. We’ve found they don’t want to listen to a 30-minute clip to wait for their answer, so we email them individually and let them know which shorter segment they should listen to.
Our Radio Rookies project is targeted toward youth. We select a few recent news stories and trim them down into one-minute readers. We often alter the language to make it suitable for young children. Visitors select one of the stories, head into our sound booth, and read it as if they were a reporter. They sign off with: “Reporting for KUER News, I’m ______.” We then edit the audio, drop a sound bite in from the original news story, and email it to the participant. We’ve turned some of the recordings from this project into fundraising spots.
We’ve worked with a volunteer software engineer to develop a touch screen program that’s fully automated. The visitor is prompted from start to finish when they enter the booth, including entering their contact info, giving permission to the station, and creating the recording. The software is in beta mode at the moment.
The sound booth project requires a rather hefty post-production workload at the moment because we manually go through each recording to edit it before sending it out, but we have a trained intern who is able to edit and send the files quickly.