Profile: Studio manager, drama
Andrew Partington is a studio manager and gives us an overview of his role on BBC Radio 4's The Archers. He describes the three main jobs that studio managers cover: mixing, spot effects and playing in pre-recorded sound effects.
Studio managers in radio drama are responsible for the recording the actors’ voices and for creating a believable audio world around the narrative. They must ensure that the recording is high quality and clean of any elements like rustling scripts or distortion.
"It's a very challenging and creative job." – Andrew Partington
Each recording of The Archers requires three studio managers. One person records and mixes the actors’ voices on the studio desk, another creates spot effects live in the studio, and another plays in pre-recorded sound effects.
Technical knowledge of mixing desks, microphones and recording systems is paramount, because it’s essential to get the best recording possible. However, SMs in drama must also have a creative streak because they are creating a world that doesn’t exist purely through the treatment of sound. Listeners must believe that they are listening to people in a cow shed or out on a windy hillside, even when they’re recorded in a sound proofed studio.
As Andrew explains, working on The Archers is a very challenging job, with four episodes recorded on a single day. But he finds the imaginative aspect of the job very rewarding and has a particular passion for creating spot effects.