Monday, May 15, 2006



Mountain and villages surrounding Merapi

I spend a great deal of my reporting time here sitting in front of a computer waiting to here back from editors. Filing a spot takes several steps. First, an email to ask if the network is interested. Then the answer. Then one writes the script, sends it, and waits for a reply. Since phone calls cost about a dollar a minute from here, I also have to plead a little bit for the editor to their editing without a phone call. Radio editors like to hear the story read over the phone before you file it, and they want to do edits with you live. But hopefully they just send an answer back with some changes to the script. Then you have to record the thing.

Recording in a quiet place can be an epic problem. Here I’ve been recording in a storage closet full of Styrofoam computer packaging. I put a shirt over my head and close the door to protect against unwanted echo. My mic cord is not very good at the moment, so it sizzles if I don’t stand very still. It’s hot in the closet with the door closed. Then I have to import the recording into my laptop, delete the screw-ups, and cut it into smallish WAV files to be emailed to the network. Emailing a 1 megabite file can take up to an hour, though I was able to reach breakneck speeds of 20 minutes per megabite Sunday night. Last night it took me more than 2 hours to file 4 megabites.

For a 45 second story, the whole round trip can take nearly 6 hours. Most of that time is spent watching for a response. I’m often afraid to leave the room because I want to keep my response time to a minimum. I’d rather be out reporting. I’d rather go to the volcanology center and ask for an update. There are people I can see from here sitting on the peaks of their houses, looking toward Merapi. That’s where I want to be most of all.

13 Comments:

Blogger crawdaddy said...

I'm with you man -- in spirit.
Susan asked me tonight if i wasn't married with two kids if I would be in Indonesia with you guys. She didn't even finish before I said yes. I love my family and I wouldn't change a thing, but man to see the kind of things you are seeing...
Hang loose and stay safe.
j

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You are certainly doing pioneering work, yet, years from now this will seem so primitive in technology.

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