When we listen to the radio, it’s easy to imagine the host chatting into the microphone and doing … something … on a computer to keep it all moving. However, it takes a whole crowd (working from home, of course; crowds are dangerous!) of knowledgeable, creative people (and some pretty fancy technology) to create each second you hear.
Curious about how your donation travels behind-the-scenes and winds up supporting one hour of programming at CKUA? Here’s another story about all the human effort that makes that magic happen. Let’s check out a day in the CKUA life of Elliott Garnier, Senior Producer.
I’m Elliott Garnier, and I’ve been the Senior Producer in programming for CKUA since 2013. As the Senior Producer, I plan, schedule, coordinate, and produce on-air sessions, interviews, features, and special programming.
I also serve as a team lead for the outstanding programming staff at CKUA, providing mentorship and support where needed. Before the pandemic, one of my biggest yearly projects was planning our many festival season broadcasts. That planning work included everything from lining up the 30+ artists you’d hear at the CKUA tent over Edmonton Folk Music Festival weekend, to ensuring we had the tent, staging, support staff, sunscreen, and broadcast lines required to bring the festival experience from the park to the airwaves.
I’m also a part of the amazing planning team that helps organize CKUA’s twice yearly on-air fundraisers. One of my ongoing roles is leading our Arts and Culture team, helping to showcase the engaging stories of talented artists and culture creators through feature interviews you’ll hear weekdays on CKUA.
Here’s a look at my average Monday:
8:30am: Powered by a French press full of coffee, I’m going through dozens of emails I’ve received over the weekend. Some from hosts and staff, many from publicists, musicians, or members of the arts community looking for coverage. As I crush my second cup, I tune in to Alberta Morning to hear the interview I produced for host Grant Stovel with Boots Graham who is in the process of turning a 14ft trailer into a mobile honky tonk!
9:00am: Our content director is on a well-deserved vacation, so I sign several time sheets from our team of announcers. I respond to an email from a festival rep looking to partner with CKUA for some sessions, and follow up on an interview request I’ve made to k.d. lang’s team. k.d. has a compilation album Makeover coming out on May 28th, and we’re hoping to feature her on the June episode of CKUA’s Hidden Track podcast.
10:00am: I spend some time hunting for story ideas ahead of our Wednesday Arts and Culture meeting, where my colleagues Grant, Tony King, Lisa Wilton and I will meet to discuss what guests we’d like to line up for the following week. We also had two new interns join us this month to learn the ropes of producing interview segments.
10:30am: Our new intern Alexis is getting ready to record her first interview! We connect for a quick video call to go over her script, and rework a few of the questions. At the end of the call, she tells me how excited she is for her first interview. Working with emerging broadcasters is one of the best parts of the gig!
11:00am: Bob Dylan is turning 80 and our team is planning some special programming. I call Grant, the hardest working guy in radio, to check in on his progress with an interview request. He also lets me know he just finished his interview with Brad Fraser, who is set to release a new book tomorrow titled All The Rage: A Partial Memoir in Two Acts and a Prologue.
11:30am: The Dylan planning continues. I connect with Oskar Zybart, Celeigh Cardinal, Cathy Ennis, and David Myles let them know about Grant and Lisa’s plans for an All-Dylan celebration on Alberta Morning and Traffic Jams. David tells me he’s going to perform a Dylan cover at the start of his show, and spin a few Canadian Dylan covers.
Noon: Lunch time! My partner and I take my dog Guinness for a short walk along the North Saskatchewan. I ask Guinness at least three times to stop eating sticks.
1:00pm: I meet with Arianne Smith-Piquette, who in addition to running the library, has also taken on the role of overseeing our production department. We discuss some changes to the production team schedule that would help us better respond to on-air technical issues on weekends.
2:00pm: I have a video call with Terry David Mulligan to discuss his upcoming episode of Mulligan Stew, and his plans to mark Dylan’s 80th. He reminds me about an interview he recorded with Colin Linden, who toured with Dylan back in 2013. We discuss plans for CKUA’s upcoming summer Festival Radio programming, and he gives me a heads-up about some guests he’s lined up for The Mulligan Stew Podcast.
3:00pm: I’m in a meeting when I get two text messages, an email, and a phone call telling me we’re off the air! I stop what I’m doing and connect with our engineering team who are able to resolve the issue in less than a minute. Shout out to Don Haberstock, CKUA technician!
3:30pm: We schedule a last-minute interview for Traffic Jams, and I dash out a script for Lisa. Alexis messages me to let me know she’s finished recording the interview, and that it went well!
4:00pm: I share some last-minute programming updates with Vish Khanna, our communications and marketing manager, before he sends out the newsletter. He warns me about a certain musician’s painfully boring autobiography that’s putting him to sleep.
4:30pm: The perfect end to the day – I hear back from k.d. lang’s management team about the interview I’ve requested with her! The response is promising!
5:00pm: Earth angel Arianne calls to remind me that I agreed to cover her Monday double check. It involves confirming that all of the pre-recorded programming scheduled to air from 8pm through 5am the next day has been loaded. The double checks are essential to keeping or programs and playlists running on time.
5:30pm: My dog Guinness is giving me that look he gives me when it’s time to stop working, and start playing that game with him where I pretend his toy dog is a phone and I’m the receptionist at his office and there’s a call for him. He really wants to take the call.