Crunch time: crafting audio news features efficiently

“No one gets into reporting because they like transcribing. …Overall [Pop Up Archive] is very accurate. I’ve seen it improve a lot in the time I’ve been using it and it’s helping us hugely in our day to day management and production of stories.”
—Audrey Dilling, KALW Crosscurrents

Audrey Dilling has been a reporter and producer for “Crosscurrents,” a daily news magazine at KALW in San Francisco. She has primarily produced features about water, reporting stories that are six to eight minutes long. That may not sound like a lot — until you realize that each feature is composed of at least three interviews, plus ambient sound, and that the raw tape for each interview prior to editing can run from twenty to forty minutes long. To help her use time efficiently and streamline the production process, Audrey uses Pop Up Archive to transcribe and organize tape.

Once she’s recorded an interview, Audrey uploads the audio to Pop Up Archive immediately; she likes to have the transcript right away, and Pop Up Archive serves as another form of file backup. Then, because she likes to have precise timecodes, Audrey exports her Pop Up Archive transcript into an editor like Express Scribe to finalize the script. “I try to save myself time in the production process by doing short interviews, but you always end up with a lot of tape regardless of how efficient you try to be! Knowing that Pop Up will deliver a workable first pass of a transcript quickly takes away that daunting existential dread of knowing that the longer I talk, the more I’ll have to type,” she says.

KALW also used Pop Up Archive for a one-off archiving project when they were undergoing a website redesign several years ago. The redesign was a major effort that necessitated switching hosting services, but KALW had little budget or  IT support to help navigate the transition. Of particular concern were the Crosscurrents archives that had been hosted on their old website: many years worth of episodes that KALW wanted to remain available, but didn’t know how to bring over to the new site. Through a collaboration with Pop Up Archive, KALW was able to create a publicly accessible archive of over 3,600 episodes. This allows both the station and the public to access content and re-share older, evergreen stories with minimal hassle and expense.

“No one gets into reporting because they like transcribing,” Audrey said. “Occasionally those of us who use Pop Up will email around the odd funny inaccuracies that sometimes turn up in the transcripts, but overall it’s very accurate. I’ve seen it improve a lot in the time I’ve been using it and it’s helping us hugely in our day to day management and production of stories.” (And if you want to check out another KALW project using Pop Up Archive, listen to The Stoop!)

See you in the archive,
The Pop Up Archive team