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Career Story: Producer For A Public Television Broadcaster

Producer For A Public Television Broadcaster

Job Title: Producer

Type of Company: I work for a public television broadcaster. The station produces 30 percent of PBS's prime time programming

Education: BS in Marketing, University of Rhode Island •• MS in Broadcasting and Film, Boston University

Previous Experience: I started as a production intern for a public television broadcaster. After that I was able to pick up temporary production jobs at the same broadcaster for a couple of years. One of these temporary jobs was script coordinator for a PBS children's series. The person I was filling in for didn't return, so I was hired and able to advance to associate producer for the series. Eventually, I moved to a different production unit.

Job Tasks: I produce descriptive audio tracks used by blind audiences when watching television or theatrical films. I edit scripts written by others, making sure descriptions are comprehensive, accurate, and work with the style of the programming being described. Later, I hire a narrator who will read the script while an engineer mixes our description into the program's soundtrack. Audiences hear our description during the pauses in a program's dialogue.

On any given day I could be working on 30-minute children's cartoons or 2-hour dramatic films. After a describer writes a script describing the visual elements of the program, I edit the script, sharing feedback in a collaborative fashion. Often the final script is a combination of both our work.

I hire narrators with consideration to the legal needs of the program being described. For example, if the program is a "union" production, I am contractually required to hire a union narrator. When choosing a narrator, I also am careful to make sure that his or her voice fits well with the program. In the studio, I direct a narrator reading the script. Since I am more familiar with the content and tone of the program, I can help the narrator adjust her "read" to fit the program.

As an engineer blends our narrator's voice into the program's audio track, I might sometimes ask for minor adjustments in sound levels. I also need to ensure that the engineer can produce materials that match the technical requirements of the client.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is how much I learn when I work with educational programming. Also, working on feature films that haven't been released is pretty fun too! The worst part is that we're often rushing to meet deadlines. It's also difficult estimating how long a project will take in the studio. If I underestimate, we can't finish the project. If I over estimate, I've paid more than I had to for studio time. It's a tough balancing act.

Job Tips: You will have to spend a big chuck of your early career doing odd jobs around your chosen field. If you want to be a television producer, be prepared to start as a production secretary, and be happy about it. Be glad to make the coffee, or clean up the conference room after screenings. Your good attitude about doing whatever is needed will be to your advantage when someone needs a production assistant down the road.

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