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The Last Weekend of Editing! (+ UPDATE 7)

Coming down to the wire, the pilot is almost finished! Thanks again for all your suggestions for show names, slogans, and neurosurgeons. (It turns out, I don’t need a neurosurgeon after all. Whee, last minute changes!) We’re editing everything together tonight and fine-tuning it, and it’s sounding great. A lot of the show is made up of interviews, as well as some recording out and about at the psychic fair, but then there’s a lot of voice over work to do. In the grand scheme of things, doing the voice overs really isn’t that difficult. I’ve already written the bulk of what I’m saying, and whenever I flub I can just do another take. The thing is, the more I do it, the more I become hyper-aware of how I say every word. And the more I think about what I’m saying, the more I screw up even the simplest sentences. Here’s a list of all the things I do that annoy me, most of which I knew about before and have tried (and failed) to eradicate:

I start every sentence with “So”
So I go to this psychic fair. So I talk this girl. So monkeys are funny. So I sooooo need to stop doing this. Just to give you an idea, while writing this entry I’ve written and deleted the word “so” at the beginning of a sentence at least seven times.

I pop my “P”s
Popping is when you hear a “puh” in the speakers whenever there’s a P. I don’t do it on every P, just the important ones. Retake!

I can’t say the letter “T”
My tireless editor John just pointed this one out. I knew it, but haven’t thought about it in ages — I believe it to be a relic of my South Jersey accent.* The very first line of the show requires me to stress the word “lot,” as in, “a lot of BS.” But I don’t say “lot.” I say “LAH” with a throaty stop thing at the end. In a more severe case, when I read the word “written” above in my head, it sounds like “RIH-en.” I’m not sure how else to describe it, so maybe a linguist can leave a comment below with clarification.

So (I’m leaving that one in), I redid the first sentence of the show about a dozen times. “A LAH…crap.” “A LOTTTTT…..oh that sounds forced.” “A LOTTTT…..CRAP!” Finally I changed it to “a TON,” and then still had to record about a dozen more takes because then I couldn’t say the word “percentage” anymore. I changed that to “statistics” and now we’re done that. That, meaning, the very first line of the show. HA!

I got a little frustrated with all this going on, and of course everything was caught on tape. Click here to listen to a very amusing clip.

I’ll update this entry as the night wears on…gotta go for now, the Mexican take-out guy just got here!


We’re still editing the A section of the show. After our rough cut of the show last weekend, we found we were over our time limit. There’s a clock you have to follow to get on public radio, with breaks in very specific places for station announcements and such. There are a few different clocks, though, and using a different one gets us more time in A and less time in C (the last section), which is exactly what we need.

So now, of course, we come up a little short in A. Whoops! Listening through, though, we came up with some really good ideas that both improve the show dramatically AND use up more time. Sweet! We’ve just now hit our mark exactly.

Here’s an additional item that annoys me about myself:

My voice changes as the night wears on
I started much higher, and when I went back to add some lines to the script, it didn’t match. Like, by a lot. A LAH-TTTTA. So I had to rerecord even more in my new, deeper, sexier voice. Well, deeper at least.

Now A is over time again by one second…

Okay we’re on time again….

Starting on the B section now, which is one full interview that you guys are going to love. The only tweaking that needs to be done is with intros, outros, and music. I’m happy because I think we can fit in one of my favorite songs. Here’s a list of what music is going in (subject to change!):

Walking in the Snow with Russians by Ice Core Scientist
Alpha Beta Gaga by Air
Dark Eyes by Devotchka
Sleeper Agent by Hallelujah the Hills
Pink Batman by Don Deacon

John is cursing :(

Screeching halt. Major problem. Oh noes.

There appears to be some confusion as to what the show’s structure needs to be. We were hoping to get the show finished by tomorrow morning, but that’s looking . . . unlikely. Time for bed.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. A Pop Shield should help you out with your plosives– It's just a foam thingummy to stick on the end of the mic. It dampens the over-aspirated plosives.

    As to your South Jersey accent (and here I thought you were Bostonian), well. maybe a dialogue coach from a local theatre group could help you out? (I'd offer, but Philadelphia is too far a commute from Boston. Though I LOVE WGBH programming.)

  2. For some reason I can't get the image out of my head of you and John spending all weekend doing a slightly more skeptical version of My Fair Lady.


  3. The sound of "T" is actually an apico-dental voiceless plosive. For the "T" sound in the middle of a word, one might try what is called the "flap 'D'."

  4. Ha ha, you guys are hilarious! Or it might just be that I'm tired…naaaaah!

    I'm mighty impressed with all the linguistical knowledge floating around….

  5. One doesn't teach English and English as a Second Language for years without picking up a few tricks! ;)

  6. Why thank you, Marc– And despite my years of Taijiquan training, I'm certain that I could break a lot of stuff whilst attempting to dance.

    …Actually, this is making me feel very guilty; I'm supposed to be recording "Letter From America" type commentaries for a friend in the UK who's doing a radio programme dedicated to reconciling Jews and Muslims.

    It's really hard to think of what to say, since my first reaction is to jump up and down decrying religion as the root of most of our mutual animosity, and wouldn't we all be better off without it.

    I don't know how well that would go over though.

  7. Rav: actually, I popped my Ps with the pop shield. I’m recording on an AKG 414 B-XLS (which retails at about, oh, $1,000) on a stand with a pop shield.

  8. That could come in handy one day, you know. Perhaps a show about that at some point in the future…?

  9. I’m not a proper linguist, but it sounds to me what you’re describing is the alveolar plosive becoming a glottal stop ( Ê” ). Funny thing is, I noticed it on the SGU podcast, but never from you – but rather from the Novellas. I figured it was a Boston-accent type thing.

    As for getting past it, from a (possibly too-old) phonetics textbook:
    “… It ought not to be difficult to eliminate, for the pupil _can_ pronounce the correct consonant, and always does so in stressed positions; he says bʌʔə for butter, but never ʔɛn for ten… It is not a question of teaching a new sound, but of getting the pupil to remember to use a sound he already possesses, in unfamiliar positions… Careful, slow reading in the first instance, paying particular attention to the articulation of the plosive consonants should make it possible for the pupil to cure himself”.

    Casual sexism aside, I think the main point of the quote is to just take it slowly, and practice.

  10. Hey, Marc! You see this creature with her South Jersey English:
    the English that will keep her in the local NPR markets to the end of her
    days? Well, sir, in three months I could pass that girl off as a
    Terri Gross at a National public radio fund raising party. I could even get her to replace Carl Castle, which requires better English.

  11. “Flap D” sounds like a great name for a rapper… That or “X-Plosive”. Damn, if only I could come up with names for Rebecca’s show as easily as I can for her hip-hop career.

  12. Yeah, I have the same problem with my “p” sounds. Although, not as bad. The pop shield actually seems to work for me, so you’ve definitely got my beat.

    (You want to hear bad? While I was recording for an audio drama over the summer, one of the guys needed not only a pop shield, but had to stand a full arm’s length from the mic… and also had a little cage separating him from the rest of the cast, like a drummer, so he wouldn’t bleed over onto the other mics. His character was, shall we say, intense.)

    As for how to deal with the t’s… I’d recommend a similar process as would be used for learning an accent. By which I mean one of the detailed methods where they describe the sound and where the sound is used, then demonstrate the sound on its own as well as in words and sentences. I picked up Cockney for a show by getting my hands on a tape like that and reciting along with the recording. It takes a while since it’s basically just brute force, but it works.

  13. I’ve got it, turn the bug into a feature, and just call the show “The X-Plosive Sceptico-Linguistic Hour, Featuring Flap D!” Watch out! Adjust your sets! The facts may BLOW YOUR SPEAKERS.

  14. I took Radio for 1.5 semesters before I realized:
    1. I am likely not going to work for CBC (similar to PBS or NPR but govt funded)
    2. I hate top 40 and country
    3. the pay sucks

    My fave class was Mass Media communications but I did best in Announcing Techniques. I suggest looking to ebay or for some texts. Its not that hard. Open mouth wide, pronounce numbers and letter properly (one HUN-DRED not one hunnred), over open your mouth when saying words that end in T etc etc.. I get told frequently that I have an amazing voice and face for radio.

  15. [So] all I can say is, with the linguistics and My Fair Lady references going out, you’re going to have to devote a segment to discovering whether or not the rain in Spain ACTUALLY falls mainly on the plain.

  16. I hope you succeed with lowering your voice on top of all that :) I thnk your tone is charming as it is, but i understand the impulse. I cringe when listening to myself in a podcast because it turns out i AM in fact Minnie Mouse.

    Can't wait to hear the finished show!

  17. Finding out whether or not the rain in Spain actually does fall mainly on the plain will be the Skeptical part of our programme.

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