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Pete Atkin
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Wireless Things
« : 10.12.07 at 01:27 »
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Jan asked (originally in the 'Music' strand) a propos of an afternoon play I've directed for BBC Radio 4 this Wednesday Dec 14th:  "I've noticed recently more directors credited on radio programmes. How do they differ from radio producers?"
 
I imagine this is of strictly limited interest, but here goes:   in the days when all radio programmes came from in-house BBC departments (i.e. before there was any independent production, which means roughly before 1993) the rule was that the only acceptable programme credit was 'producer'.  Production teams were always tiny, certainly compared with TV and film, and the BBC producer was responsible for everything on the project from start to finish, including, depending on what kind of programme it was, developing the idea, script editing, casting, booking studios, directing in studio, editing the recording, etc., with the help of a broadcast assistant (secretary in the old days).   In those days also managing a budget was not a major consideration: producers never talked money with anyone (writers, artists, etc); they weren't even allowed to.  
 
But since 1993ish they and the departments they worked within took on, quite rightly, much more budgetary responsibility.    At that point there began to appear a distinction between producer and director more like that in TV and the movies:  simply, that the producer is responsible for administration and finance and the director for creative aspects.  This distinction was (and remains) clearer in independent production companies like Above The Title, who in this case brought me in as a hired hand to direct Wednesday's The McKinnon Extradition, a project which was already commissioned and under way before I became involved relatively late in the process.
 
The distinction is further enhanced incidentally by the fact that the Radio Times (now itself run independently of the BBC) will print no more than two production credits on their radio billings pages (in addition to writer(s) and cast), and will not print a credit for any independent production company at all.  Production companies are nevertheless credited on air, as you may have noticed, but the BBC otherwise sticks to the two-credit rule;  there are sometimes exceptions, but these have always to be argued for and agreed individually.  Hence, there's a fair chance that if you see or hear 'producer' and 'director' credited separately, the production is quite likely to be an independent one.  
 
Like most credits on most kinds of production, they are of course of minimal-to-non-existent  interest to most of the audience, but that, equally of course, is not the point of them.   In practice, the producer/director distinction is reasonably clear and useful, each role involving significant and mostly well-defined responsibilities, but it's not an intrinsically obvious one, I agree.
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BogusTrumper
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Posts: 282
Re: Wireless Things
« Reply #1: 10.12.07 at 17:49 »
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Well thank you sir - I knew some of that, but not all the detail.  The only sad thing is that I find it difficult to get a copy of the Radio Times in Iowa  Sad
 
And I think that it might be of more than limited interest on this forum!
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bobtaylor
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Re: Wireless Things
« Reply #2: 10.12.07 at 21:10 »
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on 10.12.07 at 17:49, BogusTrumper wrote:
And I think that it might be of more than limited interest on this forum!

 
Quite right, Bogus, I've always been keen to know who does what, even as a very callow youth I would scan the liner notes on albums to find out who did what, so that if the names cropped up again, then I'd have a pretty good idea of the quality of what was on offer.
As a case in point, the first Rolling Stones album was released when I was 11 years old, and it was most instructive to find for example, that a certain Chuck Berry was responsible for "Carol".
Many names kept on appearing on subsequent releases; Mckinley Morganfield, Jimmy Reed and  Bo Diddley to name but three, but this certainly was responsible for awakening an interest at the time in the Chicago Blues.  
But the name of Dave Hassinger credited as "Arranger" was for many years a mystery to me. What would an arranger do? Sort the order in which the tracks would appear on the album? Who knew? There was no handy reference on the internet available back in the early to mid sixties.
Pete's insight into the various roles performed in the broadcasting arena is valuable and extremely interesting, thanks for taking the time to explain it, Pete.
Regards,
Bob Taylor.
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Ian Ashleigh
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Re: Wireless Things
« Reply #3: 10.12.07 at 21:44 »
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Thanks to Pete for the wonderful insight into the workings of radio.
 
Am I allowed to be a sad person and remind everyone that McKinley Morganfield was better known as Muddy Waters.  I know all of you already knew that.
 
Did any of you look at the inner grooves of 45 singles to see who the cutting engineer was - I remember 'Porky' Peko' and 'Melys' ... sadly my 45 collection went a few years ago in a house move.
 
All the best to all
 
Ian
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Alan Manton
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Re: Wireless Things
« Reply #4: 12.12.07 at 00:26 »
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"A Porky's Prime Cut" - now that takes me back.  You don't get any of that sort of stuff on those CD things...
 
Alan
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