October, 3

‘Corolla-casting’ during Brisbane’s COVID lockdown. ABC RN broadcaster Antony Funnell has a makeshift studio in his car


How to continue broadcasting during coronavirus?

It’s a challenge that’s been faced by many an ABC broadcaster over the past 12 months.

While the ABC is deemed an essential service, enabling key news and radio teams to keep coming into the studios during lockdowns, most staff have been working from home.

This has led to some creative makeshift studios.

Kingma wearing mask looking at camera pointed at Sales sitting on chair in bedroom.
Leigh Sales setting up a home studio with the help of cameraman Shaun Kingma.(ABC News: Jerry Rickard)

Finance presenter Alan Kohler and News Breakfast’s sport presenter Paul Kennedy had pop-up TV studios in their home studies, federal political reporter Anna Henderson broadcast from her kitchen, and 7.30’s Leigh Sales hosted the program from her bedroom at one point.

But Antony Funnell, host of RN’s Future Tense, found the perfect place was his car.

“People think the car is a weird choice for a makeshift studio, but when you think about it, modern car interiors are designed with acoustics in mind — padded ceilings and seats, slanted windows, they’re designed to try and minimise outside noise and maximise your listening experience inside.

“So, they’re perfect. You just need to be off the road and in a garage while broadcasting.”

Kennedy in small office looking at mobile phone on tripod.
News Breakfast’s Paul Kennedy at home delivering his sport segment via a mobile phone app.(ABC News: Pat Rocca)

While technology has enabled home broadcasting, achieving good quality sound has been a bit more difficult when contending with interrupting children, barking dogs and noisy neighbours.

“The one lesson I learned was never to schedule a Skype interview on Tuesday mornings when the bin man comes,” Funnell said.

“And you really want to keep interviews short at the height of a Brisbane summer.”

Young girl with headphones on talking into microphone in front of a computer.
Recording the Coronacast podcast has been a challenge for co-host Tegan Taylor when her daughter has been home schooled.(ABC Health: Tegan Taylor)

On the flip side, Funnell said the now widespread use of Zoom and Skype has made it easier to secure interviews that might have been hard to get pre-COVID.

“It’s amazing how easy it has been to get international guests, because [many are] still locked down in Europe and America and bored to death, craving contact,” he said.

“I had a German academic a few weeks back who kept chatting and chatting.

“I quickly realised he just wanted someone to talk to.

“After 25 minutes of chat, I had to say, anyway Wulf, we probably should do this interview now.”

While many ABC on-air teams around the country have been gradually returning to the studio, Brisbane’s snap lockdown means Funnell is back in his car, Corolla-casting once more.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Play Video. Duration: 5 minutes 57 seconds

Journalist Ben Knight explains how he’s producing stories from home in a video produced by ABC News for journalism schools.


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