tor and producer Cam Tait
My love of listening to voices, sound effects and music goes back to my teenage days. Radio personality Bob Comfort did a piece on 630 CHED called Posters for Your Mind, combining his voice telling a story and then, very cleverly, picking a current piece of music to drive home the point.
It made an impeccable impact.
And, it inspired me to, maybe, make a profession as a radio producer.
Back in the early 1970s, though, technology was … well, a turntable, a cassette tape recorder and a microphone.
Add in my shaky and unco-ordinated hand — I have cerebral palsy — and, for some reason, my family and friends weren’t very pleased to find multiple scratches on their records.
Record needles and me? Not a marriage made in heaven.
Same with audio tape: my good friend Brian Wilkes lent me his favourite eight-track cartridge for one of my projects.
When the tape got twisted between those two plastic heads on the top, no problem, I thought.
I can do this.
Tape was all over the basement. And the harder I tried the bigger mess I made.
But something whispered in my ear to keep chasing my producer idea.
Off to NAIT I went to take Radio and Television Arts. To my instructor’s astute credit, they didn’t let me within 100 yards of their state-of-the-art turntables and impressive record library.
Yet, I learned about writing copy — good, crisp copy — for the ear.
My love for the spoken word continued but my dream of producing audio was put on pause until 2009, when my good friend Doug Woolgar told me about Afghanada on CBC radio.
The half-hour drama was about Canadian soldiers serving in Afghanistan. I was hooked.
And it gave my an idea about writing my own fictional drama about a police chief who becomes physically disabled and returns home.
Home care, government funding, equipment challenges are in the storyline. Also mental toughness, acceptance and denial, and family dynamics.
Spending lots of time at home over the past year, I’ve had time to surf the internet. I found Voicemaker.in, a text-to-speech program with over 100 different voices.
I admit: they aren’t like the real thing and they don’t have much inflection or tone. But we’re working on it.
I have a 24-part series called The Awkward Homecoming, with the first three episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other podcast platforms.
I am having a blast.
But … this isn’t about me. It’s about technology allowing disabled people to creatively enter the booming podcast industry.
It’s another form of storytelling. And, for me, that never gets old.