Online sources are nearly always used in programme planning these days. Studio computers are provided for volunteers to search for content from trusted news and information websites, but they are also at liberty to take smartphones and other personal devices into live studios. So, whereas traditionally, practitioners would communicate with contributors and listeners by letter or telephone they can now keep in touch and abreast via email, direct messaging on social media or by text without even leaving their studio console. The organized volunteer follows themed hashtags and feeds of selected people, organizations and topics which they think their audience will be interested in. Correspondence with listeners yields ideas for news items, suggestions of new artists to feature, or events that the station could publicize or cover. Not only are mobile phones used in setting up or conducting interviews, but they have made on-location reporting easier and cheaper. There is no longer a need to book an expensive temporary landline, buy or rent a radio car with an aerial for linking back to the station, or for the reporter to find a conveniently located office or public telephone in order to contact the studio. Smartphone apps such as Luci Live, enable the broadcasting of entire live shows from outside the studios. An increasingly popular means of accessing content has been through conducting interviews via online conferencing platforms and browser based audio feeds: a range of software suppliers offer free basic accounts which meet professional broadcast quality standards such as Zoom and Cleanfeed.
An infinite number of webpages can be searched, bookmarked and refreshed when required. A potential disadvantage is the temptation to surf too many sites, potentially wasting time, finding too much information, or becoming distracted when fact-checking. Developing a disciplined approach to internet searches is a prerequisite to the efficient exploitation of that resource. Faced with a glut of material, it is important to learn how to discern what has value and is accurate. Whilst exploring the internet might yield unexpected, serendipitous or random information that would add value to a show’s content, it is advisable to have a list of favourite or trusted websites and pages. Selfdiscipline for time-management reasons is important, as is disciplining a station’s volunteers to be consistent with a streamlined approach that ensures uniformity in the reliable delivery of useful, trustworthy information. For example, Verulam maintained group resources in the cloud for the presenters, such as a template for traffic and travel with the recommended links to prime data providers.