Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Weather Station on Mount Washington!

This week's Random Access File is an encore Performance, a repeat. You know the bit: if you haven't heard it before than it's new to you! Anyway, the subject is the Weather Station on Mount Washington. Our host this week is Central New York's favorite son, Chris - KB2FAF. Joining Chris in this heavily wind scored and excessively thunder clapped episode is Mother Radio and Mr. Munroe in a wrap around downtown bar scene. By the way, some of the thunder was recorded over seventy five years ago on 35 millimeter optical film. AND! Some of the thunder was recorded over a year ago on my remarkably inexpensive forty-nine dollar Radio Shack analog cassette tape recorder! The audio quality is about the same.

My number one and only son Zachary and Marilyn get together to discuss the weather in the Random Access promo. Likewise, Zach and his bitty buddy Bix investigate alien pods in our QSL offer.

"The weather Station on Mount Washington" can be heard over This Week in Amateur Radio - Edition #790 and This Week in Amateur Radio International - Edition #175.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Who ARE Those People? Part 3 - Those Voices at Minus 18 dB and Below.

Here's an N2FNH secret advisory:

The Random Access Thought (or File), the associated RAT (or RAF) promo and the weekly QSL Card Y'all Come-and-Get-It! thing all offer something more than theatrically trained actors, top drawer production value and hideously expensive, extremely difficult-to-locate-and-obtain vintage sound effects.

There are also what some might refer to as the Easter Eggs. That would be those voices at -18 dB and below.

Chances are you've heard them, but you haven't really heard them, at least not yet. In my more youthful whippersnapper days, I was a A-Number One Fan of the sociologist author Wilson Bryan Key and his books which documented some marvelous technique on subliminal persuasion within the advertising media. I read three: Subliminal Seduction, Media Sexploitation and the Clam Plate Orgy. Much was detailed in each volume regarding subliminal sound. Whether or not you opt to buy into his sure-sounds-like-a-conspiracy-theory theories or not, this is something we can haggle over Chinese Lunch some day.

But in the meantime, pay close attention.

During each production run, short voice tracks are slipped in at random places within the body of each N2FNH program. Here's a spoiler: usually...Usually...at the end of the promos and at the end of the Random Access "Disconnecting From..." outro, there may be short voice clips from motion pictures, television shows or animated cartoons. But more than likely, they are itty bitty sound bites from my son Zach or from my virtual character ensemble. Because they are usually...Usually...at the tail end and because George W2XBS executes tight editing between program elements, the casual listener may subconsciously detect the clip but may also be sonically overtaken by the subsequent program material.

However, should you be tuned into a Podcast Recording of This Week in Amateur Radio...on your MP3 player...

In each of my production pieces, audio levels are assigned as floors in a cheesy dingy downtown three-story office building. Thus, voice content and primary sound effects are placed at the top floor from 0 dB down to about -12dB. If there is music, that element is positioned one floor down from -12 dB to -24 dB. Any sort of environmental back track, such as ham shack sounds, street traffic or birds outside, is referenced from -18 dB to -40 dB and this is pretty much
the basement level. It is here in within this amplitudinous realm, that the almost-quasi-semi- obliminal-if-not-really-subliminal voices may be heard.

NOW DON'T PANIC! N2FNH is making NO ATTEMPT to seduce your subconscious into buying popcorn or soda!


But! Like all Easter Eggs patiently waiting to be discovered, this is your one and only clue to locate them, admittedly with a boatload of explanatory floobus attached.

And! Since you alone are reading this, only you and you alone know my secret!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Who ARE those people? Part 2 - Mother Radio and the Krasnovs!

Mother Radio first appeared on This Week in Amateur Radio in Random Access promos in 2005. She was one of the very first voice characters to interact with Zachary, aside from myself.

Mother Radio is every body's Brooklyn-born Jewish mother, even if you're not Jewish. In the course of the past few seasons, Mother Radio's voice has dropped considerably in pitch. She has become tougher. More crusty. In fact, Mother Radio is downright cranky.

The Mother Radio character is loosely based on my own maternal Grandmother, who was born and bred in the Bronx in the late 1800's. She had that curious prim and proper Depression Era social quality about her but she had her quirks. When I was a little kid making all kinds of little kid noises and little kid distractions, she would always advise that I should not "wake the baby
downstairs". This terse statement Mother Radio subsequently inherited and has belted out many times. Another stinging imperative: "Now do as you're told!" was a line lifted the cheesy B-flick "The Crawling Eye", fully in keeping with her character!

Despite her crabby nature, Mother Radio is still prim and proper enough not to utter any sort of street language. Thus, if she believes that you are full of baloney, she may decry that it's all "a boatload of floobus". To the best of my knowledge, there is no such word in the English language as floobus. But it sounded good so she owns it.

In January of 2008, personal details about Mother Radio became public knowledge over This Week in Amateur Radio. Mother Radio's actual name is Beverly Krasnov. It appears that she lives in Brooklyn (variously known as Big City) with her husband Boleslav Krasnov. Mr. Krasnov is employed at Canarsie Wireless as a technician of forty-five years seniority.
Both Beverly and Mr. Krasnov have hosted a number of recent Random Access Thoughts and Files. Beverly has covered the story of Marconi and the mystery television station KLEE while Boleslav has discussed StratoVision and Technology Curiosities and Complaints.

I selected the name Beverly for Mother Radio because to me, she was always a Beverly. Mr. Krasnov's first name Boleslav was my Father's first name, although everyone called him Bill. The last name Krasnov, I appropriated from a fellow ham radio friend, Bob Krasnoff KF4UVA, who currently lives with his wife Leah in Boynton Beach. It is my personal idiosyncrasy to oft times label various friends' wives by an alias other than their real names. So for Leah, I would on occasion refer to her as Beverly or Marilyn whenever we got together.

Speaking of Marilyn, Marilyn, the loopy British chick, is the Krasnovs' lovely daughter. Why she possesses a British dialect is not clear since she is Brooklyn-born. In contrast, Mother Radio has that crunchy three-pack-a-day growl while Boleslav speaks with a distinctively animated Brooklynese overtone. Marilyn is happily married to Mr. Munroe, a true Brit. But she hangs around the home nest with her parents a good deal of the time. Marilyn's favorite pastime is watching paint dry. She paints a room and then watches the paint dry. The Krasnovs have experienced continuous interior decoration since Marilyn was a teen. She expanded this obsessive compulsive behavior to her own pad busily painting walls while Mr. Munroe listens to non-directional aircraft radio beacons in his private study.

Meanwhile, Cigman Krasnov is Marilyn's fail-to-launch forty-five year old sibling. In addition, Cigman is indeed a chronic three-pack-a-day smoker and not necessarily the brightest bulb in the pack. He digs hot cars, fabulous babes and sleeps till noon. Given the present day cost of cigarettes and their attendant health issues, it is a puzzlement that Cigman goes so far against the social grain.

Zach hangs out the Krasnovs quite often, which is curious since he lives here in upstate New York. How he gets around is not clear.

Rumor has it that Commander Jainpain, yet another of my obtuse characters, may be in some way related to the Krasnovs. But...that's another story.

More later.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Easy Listening Radio: Radio That is Easy to Listen To!

In this week's edition of the Random Access Thought for the week ending May 24th, the subject is Easy Listening Radio or perhaps more to the point: Radio that is easy to listen to. This admittedly off-Broadway performance attempts a linkage (albeit quite tenuous) between listening to broadcast AM and FM radios, shortwave receivers, and police scanners and yet being able to rest comfortably and even doze off at the same time.

This week's Random Access Thought was recorded in various rooms deep within the N2FNH Hacienda using my remarkably inexpensive forty-nine dollar Radio Shack analog cassette tape recorder. The associated Random Access Promo features Cigman Krasnov, his sister Marilyn and my Number One and Only Son Zachary.

"Easy Listening Radio: Radio that is easy to listen to" can be heard on This Week in Amateur Radio - Edition #789 and This Week in Amateur Radio International - Edition #174.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Who ARE those people? Part 1 - A boy and his dog.

If you are more than an occasional listener to This Week in Amateur Radio, then you may also be familiar with the "Random Access Thought" (or "File", depends on my mood at the moment). As the title suggests, the content is selected in random fashion from a broad range of topics related to amateur radio or to other things of a electromagnetic nature, no matter how eclectic, no matter how obscure.

And, if you are more than an occasional listener to This Week in Amateur Radio, then you may also be familiar with some of the voice characters who perform in the Random Access Thought main feature and its attendant Random Access Promos and QSL Card Offers.

My number one and only son Zachary began voicing his own character at the age of ten when This Week in Amateur Radio International first started broadcasting over WBCQ - The Planet at 7415 KHz. Over the years, a virtual neighborhood of virtual people was developed for Zach to play against.

For most of 2005, Zachary's dog made numerous appearances in Random Access Promos (in real life, we have a 15 year old feline, Suzie, who I sometimes refer to as "my one foot wife"). We never really knew what the dog's name was, but he was big. Remarkably, his bark sounded just like the Japanese quasi-superhero Godzilla.

As of this writing, Zach is now thirteen, his voice is changing and when encore performances of the Random Access Thought are re-aired, on occasion you can hear distinct differences in voice pitch.

Zach very much enjoys doing the voice work. There are two official mottoes...no, mantras...which I will always announce prior to recording. The first: "Be enthusiastic but not goofy!". The second: "Watch the blue screen, and not the green screen!". The blue screen displays the character script while the green screen shows the voice audio being recorded.

In Zachary's world of video games, PSPs, DS Lites, iPODs, computers and the Internet, appearing on a 50,000 watt shortwave station (not to mention billions of ham repeaters worldwide) may not seem like such a big deal. While engaging Mario, Sonic or Link in vicious virtual video vengeance, Zach will pause to listen to his on-air performance and when it's over, shrug his shoulders and get back in the game.

WHEN I WAS A KID! Being on the radio (such a dead medium for Zach) would have been the thrill of a lifetime.

More Later.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

So Nu?

  • You heard of me?
  • And my son Zach?
  • And my virtual peeps?
  • And my virtual noises?
  • Any Random Thoughts?
  • Plug in and drop a line!