Board Management

Article 3 min
Watch A1C Hannah Malone of the American Forces Network (AFN) Radio Refreshers explore what board management is and why it is so important. The main topics covered are board load and level, clearing the board, mic control and schedule orientation.

Load and Level

A radio board has a lot of moving parts that require attention during a live show. This can be overwhelming when you start out, but all it takes is some good habits to make your board run as smoothly as possible. 

A rule of thumb is to load and level. As soon as you load an element, pot it to the correct level. This prevents you from worrying about levels as you move through your show. As soon as you fire a song, load your flex deck with all the elements to your next song. This ensures you keep your clock orientation and stay prepared for the next part of your show.

PRO TIP: Load elements ahead of time!

Symbol of an ā€œiā€ within a black circle representing a note of additional information. NOTE: "Potting" is a term used by sound engineers when increasing a microphone's gain or volume level.

Clearing the Board

During a live show, it's hard to focus on more than what's happening at that moment. That's why clearing board elements as you move through your show is so important. When you finish playing an element:

  1. be sure to pot it down
  2. and clear it out of your flex deck.

This keeps your board clean and is your best defense against getting lost during a busy show. Plus, if a pot is clear, you can't accidentally fire it. 

Mic Control

The easiest way to make a big mistake on air is to fire a mic when you don't mean to or have a mic at the wrong level. Here's a surefire way to have the best mic control possible: 

  • Always have your mic off and potted down. 
  • When you need to open your mic, wait until just before you need to speak, give a firm "Stand by" to anyone in the room and then turn the mic on. 
  • Wait until you're ready to speak to pot the mic up to the level you need for your voice to output at the correct level. Everyone is different! 

When you're done speaking, pot the mic down. This is important. If you close your mic with a button push, there's often an audible click that can be heard on air. 

PRO TIP: Pot your mic down then turn it off to reduce noise bleed! 

Potting your mic all the way down, then turning the mic off ensures there's no click and sets your mic up for the next time you need to open it. 

Symbol of an ā€œiā€ within a black circle representing a note of additional information. NOTE: Even when you are alone, you should stay in the habit of saying "Stand by" before turning the mic on. It is also important to wear headphones when working in the studio.

Schedule Orientation

Knowing where you are in your hour helps plan ahead and prepare for upcoming elements. 

PRO TIP: Pay attention to your time clock and schedule! 

This is where the schedule comes in handy. For instance, if you're 12 minutes into your hour, you know that a spot cart is just ahead. After your spot cart, you know you have a two-minute news element at the bottom of the hour. Using your clock and planning ahead can help you prepare as you set up your board. 

A great trick to help you manage your show is to prepare not only your board but your hands. Placing your hands over the appropriate sliders or buttons before you fire an element ensures you fire the correct element at the appropriate time. 

Good habits make a tight board. Practice makes perfect. In no time at all, it'll be second nature. Have a great show! 

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