Material resources

Although digital recorders are increasingly the norm, either an analogue or a digital recorder will do the job. Whichever you use, when you put your audio recording into your computer it will be converted to digital data, which you can then edit with digital sound-editing software. You can use a minidisc recorder or any other type of digital recorder (DAT or hard disc), a professional-quality analogue tape recorder, or a simple 'Walkman'-style analogue cassette recorder. If you plan to pitch your piece to on-air radio broadcasters, you should not use an analogue cassette recorder if at all possible, because the sound they produce is not considered to be of broadcast quality. Nevertheless, if you have made an audio document of newsworthy events, even cassettes may be played. If your recording device has a time counter, and allows you to adjust sound input levels, so much the better: neither is absolutely necessary, but both are extremely helpful.

Note that you'll need a special converter to transform your analogue sound into a digital format as you put it into your computer for editing. The type of converter varies according to the format of the original and to your computer and software.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones typically record sounds using a file format called .AMR, which is primarily designed for phones. Audio data recorded on a phone should be transferred onto a computer and converted for editing in order to be incorporated into your advocacy communications. Once the sound files are on the computer they can be converted, using a freeware tool like Mobile AMR converter, into the .WAV or .FLAC format,which can then be edited on the computer using a sound editing tool, such as Audacity (Read more).

Ways of transferring sounds from your phone to your computer:



 USB cable

Bluetooth is a technology which allows two phone handsets, or a handset and a computer, within close proximity of each other to transfer information to each other. Bluetooth generally works over a range of approximately 10 metres.

To connect your phone and your computer via Bluetooth you should follow the instructions on your computer about ‘pairing’ a device via Bluetooth. You'll need to switch Bluetooth on, on both devices, and then follow the instructions. If you are transferring data this way, always remember to switch Bluetooth off when you are finished.

A microphone

It’s best to have an independent microphone for recording, rather than one which is built into your recording device, so that you can put it as close to the sound source as possible. Any standard microphone, directional or omnidirectional, will do. Many recorders have a built-in microphone that is often more than sufficient for non-broadcast quality recording but may not produce clear enough sound for most radio stations. If you have to use a recorder with a built-in microphone, be sure to hold the recorder as close to the source of the sound as possible – if it is an interview, hold it fairly close to the person’s mouth, but be aware that too high an input will create distortion. If you plan to hold your recording device in your hand, be aware that the angle at which you hold it may also have a significant effect, and that moving your hand while recording will cause noise.


You will need a set of headphones to check sound levels as you record. Headphones enable you to hear what is actually being recorded: what the audience will hear. Before you start, it's a good idea to do a sound-check by recording a minute or so of your target sounds in the space you plan to use, and then to listen back to it on headphones to check for problems such as noise, distortion or insufficient level, making adjustments if necessary. Enclosed headphones, which surround and cover your ears, give you a much better idea of levels, as they exclude some of the ambient sound.