Job description 

4 May 2015 tbs.pm/6526

In early 1969, Granada’s chief announcer Don Murray-Henderson sat down to write a guide for new (and existing) station announcers for his employer. The world has changed a lot in the 45 years that have since passed, but the document itself remains fascinating. We’re reprinting it in full here, complete with typing errors and some additional illustrations. – Russ J Graham, Editor-in-Chief

Don Murray-Henderson presenting 'Granada in the North'.

Don Murray-Henderson presenting ‘Granada in the North’.

GRANADA TELEVISION – STATION ANNOUNCERS

      1. ANNOUNCERS’ DUTIES GENERAL
        Staff announcers’ duties consist of reading promotion material before, after and between programmes, dealing with underruns and overruns; reading commercials; reading commentaries over film; announcing live studio shows. The announcer does not appear in vision. He is, as far as audio is concerned, the piece of elastic which either contracts or expands to fill the time between programmes. The announcer operates from the ‘Announcers Booth’ which is situated on the first floor of the TV Centre.
      2. MONITORING
        The controller in CCR has many things to listen to, other than the outgoing programme sound. It is the announcer’s duty to listen to the sound, and report any irregularities to the controller.
      3. Granada apology caption 1969CENTRAL CONTROL
        The announcers’ booth is controlled by the Transmission Controller in the Central Control Room, situated on the ground floor of the TV Centre. The Transmission Controller is responsible for co-ordinating the final output of the station before it goes to the transmitters, and announcers are only one of the many groups of people with whom a Transmission Controller is concerned when the station is on the air. His instructions must be observed by everyone, if a smooth presentation is to be attained. The announcer’s microphone is switched on by means of a fader operated by the announcer himself so it is essential that the announcer follows his schedule very carefully, taking particular note of his ‘out-time’. The controller cannot talk to the booth when the faders are up.
      4. THE BOOTH
        The announcers booth is equipped with:
        (a) A microphone
        (b) Talkback to the Transmission Controller in Central Control Room.
        (c) Two monitors, showing transmission and auto-preview pictures.
        (d) A loudspeaker.
        (d) Electric clock (accurate to within a second either way)
        (f) A stop watch for timing promotions and commercials before transmission.
      5. ANNOUNCER’S ROSTER
        The day’s transmissions are normally divided into two periods and these are allocated each week on the announcers roster. Additionally, there are a number of commitments outside the booth. Announcers are informed of programme requirements through Joe Rigby’s office by memo. These are entered on the duty board in the booth.
      6. THE SCHEDULE
        The daily transmission schedule is compiled by Presentation. This schedule provides the announcer with all the information he requires in connection with his part in the day’s transmissions. It also lists all the commericals to be transmitted for the day. The announcer’s promotions, commercials, etc are underlined in red on the schedule. A specimen copy is attached to these procedure instructions.
      7. PROMOTION DEPARTMENT
        The Promotion Department is responsible for the supply of promotion scripts, slides, captions and film as and when they may be required. All the visual elements of a promotion, ie slides, captions or films, are listed on the left hand side of the script and the audio material on the right hand side. Everyone connected with transmission procedure does his or her best to ensure that no mistake goes out on the air. The announcer is part of this team and, therefore, it is part of his job to check the scripts with the Daily Schedule and with the Programme Sheet to make sure they tally. Should a mistake of any nature be noticed the Transmission Controller should be informed at once.
      8. STATION OPENING PROCEDUREGranada starts in 2 - 30 July 1968
        When coming on duty for the first shift of the day, the announcer should arrive at least 30 minutes before transmission is due to start or before the first call for rehearsal. He should:(a) Mark and check scripts.
        (b) Check commerical scripts – particular care being taken to ensure that the date of transmission is correct and that ALL the commercial scripts are there. ALL COMMERCIAL SCRIPTS MUST BE TIMED BY THE ANNOUNCER WHEN HE RECEIVES THEM. ANY OVERRUN OR UNDERRUN MUST BE REPORTED TO THE TRANSMISSION CONTROLLER AT ONCE.
        (c) Check the booth clock against TIM.
        (d) Write and time the opening script and inform the Transmission Controller.
        (e) Ask the Transmission Controller to arrange a ‘Balance’ check in order to ensure that the level of sound from the booth is satisfactory.
        (Note: This procedure should also be carried out by each announcer when he takes over a shift)
      9. TIME CHECKS
        Time is an all-important factor. Time-checks are usually given only when they tally with those given in TV Times. They are always given in ‘longhand’ ie 4 50 is not ‘four-fifty’, it is ‘ten to five’. Try to avoid giving time checks at awkward times like 9 43, 11 09 etc.
      10. READING SCRIPTS
        The announcer must always bear in mind when reading scripts that other people are following him with slide and caption changes. He should not read a script so rapidly that there is not time to change the slides properly. If it is too long it should be cut before transmission. Slides cannot be changed in under 2″. It is a wise precaution to mark the “out time” of the previous programme at the top of a script, and the “in time” and title of the following programme at the bottom of the script.
      11. OVERRUNS AND UNDERRUNS
        Occasionally programmes transmitted by Granada overrun or underrun. Usually in these cases the scheduled timing is out by anything from 2″ to 15″. When this occurs the script will have to be adjusted by arrangement with the Transmission Controller. Occasionally, programmes underrun or overrun to such an extent that this is not practicable and other action has to be taken.
      12. SPORT AND PARTY POLITICAL BROADCAST OVERRUNS
        Programmes are not supposed to exceed their Scheduled duration. Major sporting events are the exception that proves the rule with regard to overruns. They are normally allowed to overrun up to five minutes (it varies in every case). If the sporting item does overrun it normally comes out exactly one, two, three or four minutes late and then all programmes on the ITV Network are that much later throughout the evening. Party Political Broadcasts are also usually allowed to overrun for a certain specific length of time – usually one minute. Very careful checking of the schedule is necessary in situations like this (Transmission Controller will advise)
      13. STAND-BY SCRIPT
        There will come a time when the announcer has an underrun on his hands and, perhaps, if there is no warning, there will be a “flap”, To cover such a contingency, Promotion Department supply a stand-by script each day. This usually consists of a breakdown of the evening’s programmes and the following nights. It is essential that the announcer should study and read over the stand-by script when he COMES ON DUTY, and not just before he has to read it on the air in an emergency. Of course, the stand-by script will not fill the hole left by the underrun exactly and, therefore, the announcer must talk quickly with the Transmission Controller and decide which part or parts he is going to read. He must always inform the Transmission Controller of his intentions since the Controller is responsible for supplying the picture. It is a wise precaution to mark the day and time of the different programmes on the stand-by script, in large letters, by respective paragraphs.
      14. AD LIBBING
        Just as there will come a time when the stand-by script will have to be read there will also come a time when the announcer will have to extemporise to fill an awkward gap or underrun. He should always have the TV TIMES (checked previously against daily schedule for alterations) open at the page which shows current programmes. With the TV TIMES under the last script he is scheduled to read, if anything untoward happens, he can talk about the programmes the viewers will be seeing in a few moments or later on in the evening, taking the details from the columns of the TV TIMES. However, the TV TIMES often shows programmes which have been altered or cancelled, and he must check it against the schedule and Programme Sheet when he comes on duty. On no account mention the names of Producers, Directors or any personal credits printed in the TV TIMES (It is not Granada policy to mention these in promotion unless you are specifically instructed to so do)
      15. APOLOGIES FOR BREAKDOWNSWinter Hill breakdown
        Should a breakdown occur on either or both transmitters, the announcer usually apologises. The apology is made as early as possible, over a slide. Details of these are given elsewhere, but note that breakdowns are never due to ‘circumstances beyond our control’. The Transmission Controller will instruct the announcer on duty as to the apology to be made. When there has been interference to vision or sound during a programme, the apology is made at the first available opportunity – this may be at the end of a commerical break or at the conclusion of the programme, either before or after the final commercial break. In every case the Transmission Controller will cue the announcer. It is advisable to inform the Transmission Controller of the time it will take to read the apology. In the case of loss of programme, the announcer must never introduce music unless he has confirmed that the controller can (and intends to) play it.
      16. PROGRAMME SHEETS
        Programme sheets are kept up to date with amendments which are delivered to the booth. The Programme sheets are pinned to the notice board in the booth. They show planned programmes up to four weeks ahead.
      17. WEATHER FORECASTSGranada News Weather
        The weather forecast comes from the Manchester Weather Centre and is transmitted after the early and main news bulletins. Amend any typing mistakes which may have occurred as soon as received and read it carefully. Time the weather forecast, and inform the Transmission Controller of your timing since this can affect the time of any subsequent script.
      18. PROMOTION FILMS
        Some promotional films and slides require commentary over. The announcer should check with the Transmission Controller as early as possible whether the commentary is “General” or whether it’s tied up to certain parts of the film or programme. If the commentary does refer to specific things appearing in the film, then he will be required to see it with your script before transmission. When a slide promotion is immediately followed by a film it will be necessary to give the Transmission Controller what is called a “Roll-Cue”. A film takes 5″ to run from start to transmission speed. Therefore, the announcer will have to back-time the last line of his script and decide on a word which comes exactly 5″ before the end of the script. Having reached the previously agreed “Roll-Cue” he must not pause and overrun. Certain trailers have their titles on film, over which he will be required to speak. Again he must ascertain the exact time the titles are going to remain on the screen and must not overrun their time.
      19. GRANADA IDENTGranada starts in GRANADA - 30 July 1968
        The Granada slide is the standard station identification. It is loaded to follow every promotion.
      20. STATION IDENTIFICATION
        The standard audio station identification is “THIS IS GRANADA”. No variation is permissible.
      21. POLICE MESSAGES
        From time to time Police messages have to be read. These must come from the Transmission Controller. Promotion scripts are usually scrapped to allow time for reading Police messages. If there is any time left at the end of a Police message it is a good idea to repeat the address or phone number which usually occurs at the finish.
      22. PROMOTION OF SCHOOLS PROGRAMMES
        When promoting schools programmes at close-down, the announcer should avoid calling them schools. There are many people watching at home who might enjoy these programmes, but would be put off by the word ‘schools’.
      23. TIMING PROMOTIONS
        It can prove disastrous if the announcer overruns a scheduled time. Therefore, he should always time the scripts beforehand and give himself an extra couple of seconds to be on the safe side. He should take into account that it takes 2″ or more for slide changes – if he has to wait for them his timing may be out. The Controller usually anticipates slide changes. If, in an emergency, the script time is cut with no warning, the announcer should finish by mentioning the title, day and time of the programme he is talking about.
      24. MUSIC
        The announcer should never mention the title, composer, or performer of standby music. It costs more to play it if he does.
      25. ADDITIONAL NOTESGranada Sorry about the sound we're looking for the fault Autumn 1968
        The announcer should think all the time. He is talking to millions of people – projecting Granada’s image. He should think of his schedule – how many commercials are there in the next break? To which transmitter? How long is the promotion? What is the out-time? He should think of his script – what is it about? What is it trying to convey to the public? Is his approach the best for this particular programme or product? He should think of his controller – they are human, and vary considerably in their approach. The announcer should carefully note any idiosyncrasies in their method of presentation.

        Promotion scripts can be edited or adapted by the announcer to suit either his own style or the available time. When editing a script he should never obliterate words – they may have to be re-inserted at the last moment. The controller should be told as soon as possible if there are any alterations to the script. Even an alteration that doesn’t directly affect a cue can make the TC lose his place, and result in chaos on air.

        The announcer should never take anything for granted! The fact that an Ident and clock have appeared at ten to six every night for the last five years does not mean that there will be one tonight.
        The schedule is the announcers bible. Its word is law!

      26. RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE SUBJECT OF ANNOUNCING IN GENERAL
        The fundamental attributes of a good announcer do not change. Though styles of presentation may alter with changing techniques in advertising, the basic and inalienable essentials of sincerity, conviction and lack of affection must persist. The adoption of an artificial manner (the mid-Atlantic accent is one form of it) is seemingly used to put a veneer of slick salesmanship into the message and, by inference, quality appeal of the product. What it most often does is to impart an entirely false character and not establish a genuine announcer-listener relationship. Its own momentum of delivery frequently makes it skid over the heads of the audience.

        This is where a genuine personality counts for so much. The busker, carpet-bag salesman style is never really convincing. Particularly is this so with British listeners, and housewives especially. The foot-in-the-door technique only sets up a resistance. A sales message spoken in a convincingly intimate way with an air of authority will go down better with most people. Its better to persuade than bull-doze. This is not to say that the announcer doesn’t have to put it across with a measure of force blended with an entertaining presence. But be yourself, a human being. Not the synthetic voice of a person that is not you. Ask yourself this question: ‘If I had in front of me a man or a woman instead of a microphone, would I speak that way?’

        The other side of that microphone is one person… not five hundred thousand, one million, five million, but an individual who frequently identifies himself with you and is very much influenced by what you say. And that microphone into which you speak is a reflecting glass. It will detect insincerity as searchingly as it will integrity. It will pick out and even magnify mannerisms which you rather hoped you could conceal or are attempting to hide beneath the borrowed cadences of another man.Granada closedown 1968

        The problem of announcing which satisfies everybody will never be solved. An audience is made up of all types. The person behind that friendly voice which is invited into a million homes has not only got to be versatile. He cannot allow himself the luxury of personal mood. He is never glum, sour tempered or ill-humoured in any way. When that switch goes on, his voice must have the necessary compulsive tones to hold the interest and provide a form of companionship with his listener. The permitted disposition must range through hard and soft sell,charm without gush, gaiety without flamboyance and displaying a strength of personality which is never overbearing but has that necessary influential essence to be liked by all age groups.Granada starts in Good Evening! - 30 July 1968

        These virtues are valid to the commercial and programme continuity alike. Successful and pleasing presentation is the sales force of the station. It can make or mar a reputation, add to or detract from the station’s appeal.

        TV sets and radios themselves possess an inbuilt ability to sell. An enormous number of viewers and listeners automatically apply value to anything they see on TV or hear announced. They reason that it must be good if it’s on the ‘telly’ or from the transistor. Put another way, it is that listener-station relationship, the easily persuaded (even manipulated) mind identifying itself with the set in the home. Buy that product and in a sense they’re taking part in a broadcast. That favourite DJ or announcer says its good so it must be!!

        But why have we allowed ourselves to become Americanised and assumed that phoney accents are the watchwords to success. Now is the time when the future directors of local radio (or those who are waiting in the wings) should decide what the voice of local radio will sound like. The plea is for British voices strong, virile, regional and pleasingly full of natural personality and presence.

DMH/PS/20

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You Say

8 responses to this article

Arthur Nibble 4 May 2015 at 5:04 pm

Fascinating stuff. I wonder how many people thought announcers just turned up and more or less busked it?

“The standard audio station identification is “THIS IS GRANADA”. No variation is permissible” – maybe the words are set in stone but, as shown elsewhere either on this or another superb TV website, announcers such as Don, Brian Trueman and Colin Weston placed the emphasis on a different word out of the three.

“(The announcer) cannot allow himself the luxury of personal mood. He is never glum, sour tempered or ill-humoured in any way” – if that rule was never bent, we wouldn’t have had Jim Pope’s hugely moving tribute to Pat Phoenix the day she died.

Joseph Gallant 22 May 2015 at 12:20 am

I wonder if Granada announcer Don Murray-Henderson implemented the policies in Section 12 regarding over-runs of live sports after an incident in 1968 on NBC in the U.S. in which an American football game between the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders was cut off before it’s conclusion in order so that a made-for-TV movie version of “Heidi” would begin on schedule at 7 P.M. Eastern Standard Time.

Normally, televised American football games that began at 4 P.M. Eastern time (as the game between the Jets and Raiders was) would be over by 7 P.M. Eastern time, the hour “Heidi” was supposed to be transmitted

The cutting-off of that game before it ended has become well-known in America as the “Heidi Bowl” and probably made headlines around the world.

Arthur Nibble 21 June 2015 at 3:44 am

Joseph, your comment reminds me of an incident when, if I remember rightly, pre-24 hour BBC1 quit coverage of The Ashes at about 2 a.m. one morning in the belief that no-one would possibly be up that time watching in the UK!

Arthur Nibble 21 June 2015 at 10:09 pm

Many thanks for informing us about the “Heidi Bowl”, Joseph. I’d never heard of it before so I checked it out and was fascinated by it. For those not in the know, the game overran horribly and was cut from transmission with 65 seconds left, during which time the Raiders scored two touchdowns to turn defeat into victory. Executives trying to get the film stalled couldn’t get through to NBC to give the order due to a jammed switchboard. To compound matters further, NBC ran a scrolling headline of the final score during a poignant moment in the film, annoying virtually everyone watching in the process.

Gary Masters 30 June 2015 at 9:03 pm

The “Heidi Bowl” reminds me of “War of the Monster Trucks”, the Sheffield fanzine so-named following the events of 21 April 1991, when (according to the Wikipedia entry) Yorkshire Television elected to show a programme about said trucks in preference to the post-match celebrations of the Owls’ famous and unlikely 1-0 League Cup Final victory over Manchester United. This decision has been cited over the years by both Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United fans as a prime example of Yorkshire Television’s alleged bias towards West Yorkshire in general and Leeds in particular.

David Sinck 29 July 2015 at 9:15 am

Fascinating document. I wonder if the announcer’s “booth” became studio 1 which as I understand it was used for in-vision announcing. And having seen the floor plans of the ground floor of Granada, I wonder where that CCR on “the ground floor” was, as it seems to be mainly occupied by studios and dressing/ green rooms.

Russ J Graham 29 August 2015 at 9:00 pm

What would later be a green room seems a possibility, David: Maureen Lipman, as one of Granada’s stock of rep players in the 1960s, recalls having to argue with management for the provision of a green room and it being provided very late on in a windowless, distant room at Quay Street… with green wallpaper, a green carpet and green furniture – someone, somewhere, being convinced that the “green” in “green room” was what was most important to the actors and celebrities who would be using it.

Andrea Jones 1 December 2016 at 3:11 pm

Fascinating ! what memories this brought back I used to sit in the booth with Don when I was at Granada in the 60 s working as an extra in Pardon the Expression We were great friends as we had met whilst touring the country with the Argyle Theatre for Youth The other thing we had in common was my home town of Wallasey

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