During a recent BBC news show, a technical blunder has showcased the importance of treating any microphone as live. It doesn’t matter whether you believe a microphone is active or not, it’s best practise to always treat them as live.
In the news show, the presenters are in the field interviewing various people. While one presenter, Louise Minchin, was conducting an interview with a member of the public, another’s voice is heard over the top of them, ‘Can you hear me back in Salford? Hello?’. The presenter whose voice can be heard, Dan Walker, is unaware that his microphone is still being broadcasted. Luckily, this was quickly rectified and only a small segment of the interview was interrupted. However, this could’ve easily led to a private conversation being broadcasted live, unbeknownst to the presenter.
At the end of the programme, the presenter addresses the technical hitch by saying ‘It’s a reminder to us all that you’re never alone with a microphone’, and it’s very true. There’s been multiple examples in recent history where microphones have been over looked, causing conversations or comments to be heard by unintended recipients.
One of the more prolific examples of microphone misuse involves ex-Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. Whilst being driven away from an encounter he had with a member of the public, the ex-PM was still wearing a microphone and made a very derogatory comment about the lady he had spoken to moments before. The microphone he was wearing was still active and this allowed member of the Sky News team to overhear his conversation with a colleague, which included the derogatory comments regarding the lady in which he had been speaking to. The event was highly publicised at the time and the ex-PM received a lot of back-lash from the incident.
These are just a couple of examples of why it’s important to remain vigilant whilst working with any microphone, and as the BBC news presenter states, ‘you’re never alone with a microphone’. Whether a microphone has been placed for legitimate purposes or not, there’s always a risk of misuse.