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Inside the clock's rule over public radio and NPR producers

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NPR studio (99% Invisible)
NPR studio (99% Invisible)

In the world of radio production, nothing carries more importance than the clock. Most shows that are broadcasted over public airwaves have a set template from which they rarely (if ever) deviate. The 99% Invisible podcast (which happens to be among our favorites) recently visited NPR to see how producers handle the pressure. Running long by a second or two can result in a show being cut off for listeners, and coming up short ahead of these scheduled "posts" — which divide segments of a program — presents other headaches.

There wasn't always such an obsession with precision and timing, though; as 99% Invisible discovers in its latest episode, production was far more freewheeling in the 1970s. Some who were around in that era insist shows were more spontaneous as a result, though not everyone liked the looser format. The entire podcast is worth a listen, whether you're a public radio devotee or just throw it on for the evening ride home.