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Producing RadioLabour
news and feature items

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RadioLabour's newscast items are not produced by professional radio reporters. They are produced by people like you – union activists who are engaged in the Canadian labour movement's issues and events. You can be a RadioLabour reporter. Here's how.


RadioLabour produces five minute newscasts Monday to Thursday and a 10 minute programme on Fridays. These times are strictly adhered to because radio stations need to know how to schedule the newscasts.

We also produce longer audio and audio-visual reports. But these are posted as separate items on the RadioLabour website. Promos for the longer items are included in the daily newscasts.


Items broadcast in our daily newscasts are between one and two minutes long. These are the recordings we need most.

However longer items, up to 10 minutes, can be produced and put on our website. These items should be accompanied by a short news story which can run in one of our daily newscasts. Produce the item to be included in the daily newscast as a stand-alone 1-2 minute item and then end it with “You can find an extended version of this report on the RadioLabour website.”

The longer item will then be posted on our site with its own web page. This can be particularly useful during strikes or campaigns because external sites can point directly to the story's own webpage. For examples of how this works visit the RadioLabour website.

Standard Reporting

Here are the basic steps for producing a news item which will be broadcast on RadioLabour.

1. Write a script.

Don't skip this step. You cannot ad-lib a two minute news item.

A news item that runs about one-and-a-half minutes is 200 words. A two minute story is 250 words. If you need more time to tell your story consider doing more than one item and we'll run the multiple items as a series. Or: think about producing a longer item which can be pointed to from one of our newscasts.

End your script with: This is (FirstName) (LastName) reporting for RadioLabour.

RadioLabour broadcasts news and features about the labour movement. Every item must be tied to what a union is doing or what its spokespeople are saying. If you want to highlight a general issue such as the environment then qoute a labour person or a union website.

There is no editorializing on RadioLabour. We don't run editorials. And we don't have editorializing inside stories such as: “I think Harper is against unions” even if he is. Qoute a union leader. (You won't have trouble finding anti-Harper quotes :)

2. Record the audio file

If you are doing Standard Recording (as compared to the Advanced Recording below) there are two ways to produce an audio file.

A. Record with RadioLabour help

Write a news story script of about 1-2 minutes. Then set up a time for RadioLabour to call. During the call speak your report. That's it. We'll produce a final version.

B. Produce an audio file yourself.

Write a script

Speak the script into your recording device (see below). Remember the listener can't see you, so speak a little bit more slowly and clearly than you normally would.

Hold the recording device slightly to the side of your mouth. You do not want the breath from your mouth hitting the device.

If you flub a line (everybody does, all the time) just go back to the part of the script before the mistake and keep talking. The flubbed lines can be easily edited out.

Don't bother editing the recording. Most RadioLabour reporters don't. The editing of flubbed lines or other mistakes can be done by RadioLabour technicians. (But if you want to have greater control over the final product you can easily learn how to do so, see below).

Here is an example of a raw audio file that was sent to us by our senior correspondent C. Marie Ainsborough.


Here's the final version which ran in one of our newscasts.


3. Recording devices

Most RadioLabour reporters use their smartphones to record an audio file.

Figure out how to make a recording on your phone and send it either as an email attachment or via RadioLabour's website file sending system (described below).

You can improve the quality of your smartphone recordings by downloading apps dedicated to recording or by purchasing small plug-in microphones. Good apps for the iPhone include iTalkRecorder. For a Blackberry use Parrot. Android phone users can download EasyVoiceRecorder.

Some RadioLabour reporters with iPhones use a small, inexpensive ($27) plug-in microphone called the Switcheasy Thumbtack. Here's a sample of an audio file recorded by RadioLabour's LabourStart correspondent, Derek Blackadder, using a Thumbtack.


Recordings on smartphones are perfectly acceptable. But if you want to step-up the quality, and you will be doing interviews, use a digital recorder. We recommend the Zoom H2n. It costs $170. Here's an example of an interview done using a Zoom.


RadioLabour accepts audio files in every format. So don't worry if its a .wav or an .mp3 or an m4a. Just send it as it is.

4. Send the recording

Audio files can be sent either as email attachments or by using the RadioLabour file sending system.

Audio files sent by email should be sent to:

Some files are just too big to send by email. In this case use the RadioLabour file sending system at: Sending Reports

And that's it. We'll send you an email saying we have received your audio file and an approximate day it will be broadcast. And we thank you!

Try it. Record a practice audio file and send it to us. We'd love to work with you as you learn more about labour radio journalism.


Most RadioLabour reporters will stick with the standard reporting procedures described above. These procedures are in fact how many professional radio reporters work.

But if you want to produce higher quality items and have great control over the final product, then consider two steps.

1. Improve your recording system

The best way to improve your recordings is to upgrade your recording device. If you are working with a PC, a normal headset-microphone (like you would use for Skype) works very well. But if you want to improve your audio recording consider getting a dedicated microphone or buying a digital recorder such as the Zoom H2n. (Techie note: if you're going to buy a microphone choose the kind called “dynamic”.)

2. Learn to edit audio files

It's not difficult!

One of the best audio editing programmes is available free of charge. Audacity is used by most podcasters.

Here is a 20 minute tutorial on how to use Audacity. It was prepared for a course attended by African unionists studying communications. (Ignore the part about transferring the finalized audio file to a server. You won't have to do that).

Audacity tutorial on how to edit audio files

Using Audacity

You can get Audacity here: Downloading Audacity

(Another techie note: To use Audacity you must also install a program called “Lame”. It's here: Downloading Lame)

There are two ways you can learn how to edit audio files: the hard way and the much easier way. The hard way is to struggle through all the learning by yourself. The easier way is to contact us and we'll help you. It'll be fun.

Your turn!

We need lots of news items. Please help. We'd love to work with you as you learn to produce news items for the Canadian labour movement.

And remember: it's all about radio solidarity forever!

RadioLabour - the international labour movement's radio service - 2014