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Submitting Content to Main Menu

Main Menu is the popular ACB Radio technology show that is now also carried by radio information services. One of the reasons for its popularity is its grass roots approach to product reviews. Blind and visually impaired people from around the world review and demonstrate computer software, hardware and other technology.

What Can Be Reviewed?

Main Menu is a technology show, not just a computer show, although it is true to say that the vast majority of our reviews are about computer hardware or software. That said, if you come across an appliance, a toy, a cell phone, or any other device that you find particularly accessible, we'd love to receive a review. In terms of computer software, we welcome reviews of assistive technology, or off the shelf software focusing on its interaction with assistive technology.

It is a good idea to check the Main Menu Archives to ensure that what you want to review hasn't been reviewed already. Sometimes, a product has changed so much that even though we have reviewed it, it warrants a second review. In this case, you should contact us in advance to discuss this.

Once you have decided on your subject matter, contact us at mainmenu@acbradio.org to discuss what you have in mind. Not all contributions are used, so to avoid disappointment, it is a good idea to work with us right from the beginning to be sure you will produce something we can use.

What Should a Review Contain?

A Main Menu review should always start with a clear explanation of what it is you are reviewing and what its purpose is. It should contain clear explanations of the product's functions and what steps you are taking to cause the product to do what it is doing. You should point out, in a constructive way, the strengths as well as the weaknesses of a product. It should always conclude with a clear contact reference for the manufacturer or a vendor, preferably a web address. We always put links to products where available on the Main Menu archive page.

You need to have a thorough knowledge of the product. The listeners will be frustrated if they think that you are getting to know the product as you do the review.

Technical and Presentation Considerations

  • Speak clearly and try to avoid hesitation. With listeners in over 70 countries, English is not the first language for several of our listeners.
  • Take time to ensure that your microphone is well placed. Having it too close to you will cause loud, popping p sounds. Having it too far away will amplify computer and other background noise.
  • If you have noise reduction, use it sparingly. Too much noise reduction can do more harm than good, making the audio sound squelchy.
  • The number one cause for complaint from main Menu listeners is speech synthesiser speed. Not everyone is used to your particular speech synthesiser, and even among those who are, some have difficulty hearing speech at a fast speed. If you have the speech at a slow rate, it will also avoid the need for you to repeat what the synthesiser has said.
  • If possible, when using a speech synthesiser, you should attempt to record it directly rather than use the microphone to pick it up. If you have software speech, most sound cards have a "what you hear" or "stereo mixer" option. This will record whatever is unmuted in playback controls. Therefore, if you have your microphone and your wave output device unmuted in playback controls, your microphone and your speech synthesiser will be recorded.
    • If you have a hardware synthesiser, you can also use the "what you hear" or "stereo mixer" option, but you would need to make sure that line in is unmuted in playback controls, and that you have a cable running from the line-in jack of your sound card to the headphone jack of your synthesiser.
  • Take time to edit. It doesn't matter whether you prefer to record the original review on tape and then dub it onto the PC, or whether you record the original in Sound Forge, CoolEdit, Goldwave or similar. If you make a mistake, you need to edit it out. If you stumble when speaking, try to edit this out where possible. Many good reviews take twice as long to produce after they have been recorded because of the editing. There is absolutely no harm in stopping to consult a manual or help file if you don't know what a particular function does, you can edit this out later. While producing your review, we suggest that you do not use any background music. If you do want to use background music, please make sure it is legal, podsafe, and that it is supposed to be used for audio production. If you do have music within your review, it must only be in the beginning (intro) and/or the end (outro) of your file. Sumissions with music through the entire presentation will not be accepted.
    • Please note that, though it is much appreciated if you would edit your content, this does not have to get in the way of your submitting a review to Main Menu. If you are unable to edit your content, we have some people who would be willing to edit it for you. However, please make every effort to see that you can edit it yourself first. also, please be aware that the Main Menu team has the right to edit any submission that we receive to make it more suitable for airing on our show.

Uploading the Review

Once your review has been compiled, save it as an MP3 file. Please encode as follows:

  • Mono: At least 64KBPS, 44.1KHZ
  • Stereo: At least 160KBPS, 44.1KHZ

Upload it to ftp.acbradio.org, in the incoming/acbradio folder. If you are not comfortable using FTP, we can work with you to get the file through another method, such as Dropbox. Don't forget to notify us at mainmenu@acbradio.org when the review is up there.

Once it is uploaded, we will consider the review for inclusion. Not all reviews are used, but if we are unable to air your segment we will write to explain why we are not using it. It may be that we can use it with some improvements, so keep the original recording!

Other Considerations

    Please make sure you are always aware of any legal information that affects the program or device that you are using. If you submit a demo to Main Menu to be aired using a cracked copy of the software or an illegal change or feature of the software or hardware, Main Menu will reject your segment. Please make sure you are using full legal versions of software or hardware in any on-air material.

We look forward to receiving your review. It is contributions from around the world that make Main Menu what it is, and we sincerely appreciate the time people take to prepare them.

Please write to us at mainmenu@acbradio.org if you have any further inquiries and remember, the Main menu staff reserve the right to reject a submission. If this happens, we will work with you to improve the quality so that we can air it on the show in the future.


The Main Menu site was created by Shane Dittmar for ACB Radio. All rights reserved.