When you’re doing a radio interview with someone in another city, there are a few options I’ve used:

  • Phone – Easiest to set up, but worst-sounding. That said, people are accustomed to hearing phone interviews on the radio.
  • Studio-to-studio via ISDN – Sounds pretty good, but requires a studio on both ends. This usually means the guest has to go to a nearby CBC, NPR, BBC, etc. station, so it’s not always convenient.
  • Double-ender – When done well, this can sound like the interviewer and interviewee are in the same room, but requires good recording equipment on both ends.

Recently, we’ve been experimenting with Skype to do interviews for Spark, with varying results. Last week, we did an interview with Adrian Bowyer about his 3D printer, RepRap. And it sounds pretty freaking good, considering he was on his hotel WiFi using an inexpensive headset microphone.

The raw interview is posted here. Have a listen. Aside from the occasional blip or dropout (which we edited out for the finished program), the overall audio quality is amazing.

We’re trying to make Spark a radio show that sounds different. Part of that is story selection, and structure, and pace. Another part of that is how we create the show’s sonic landscape. Tools like Skype can help us create an interesting middle ground somewhere between studio-quality and phone-quality.

I wonder if we’ll start to hear more Skype-quality interviews (complete with blips, bloops, dropouts, and walkie-talkie back-and-forth) on the radio in the coming years. Honestly, I’m surprised someone doesn’t make a piece of Skype gear with decent inputs and outputs for studio use.