Model Rail Radio

Live Radio Devoted to Model Railroading

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To listen in to the show live or participate in the show (either calling in or through the chat) you will have to download the free Skype application from:

The call is recorded from Tom Barbalet's Skype account. You will need to add:


As a friend on Skype to call in and participate.

Limit to Skype

There is a hard limit of 25 people who can listen and speak on a Skype call. There is a limit for the text chat of 300 people. Feel free to get on the text chat and as people leave the audio call, people from the text chat will be added to the audio call.

After you have spoken on the show consider moving off the audio participants to the text chat to allow more people to participate.

After there are particular problems with Skype, Tom may reset the call. He will announce this both through the audio recording of the call and through the text chat.

Listening Live and Joining the Chat

From the show start time, call tom.barbalet and you will be added to the show. Remain muted and you can listen in to the show and participate in the chat room (which is the Skype text chat).

Calling in to Talk on the Show

Again you can call in via Skype. The same instructions as above applies but you take yourself off mute and talk!

It is best that your computer be physically connected to your internet connection through wired ethernet. Wifi produces problems with multiple participants on the show. Similarly wireless headphones and microphones can cause problems.

Please read the "Headphones" and "Audio Quality" points. A little time on your part will save a lot of time for our listeners (and the long suffering editor of the show)...


Although Skype allows you to talk without headphones, headphones cut out a bunch of external noise like notifications from the chat.

Apple's iPhone headphones with a mic built in have caused problems historically. When they rub against clothes they create a scratching/popping sounds which reduces audio quality and makes it hard for others to hear you.

Consider using any form of headphones when you talk on Model Rail Radio. Headphones with wires are superior to Wifi headphones as Wifi headphones have other issues in terms of quality and feedback through Skype.

Audio Quality

The method used by Skype to establish a conversation is not the same as talking on a regular telephone. This requires taking some extra steps to ensure good quality sound. If you'd like to participate in the show, please find a quiet place to call in from. Background noise (such as a radio, TV, cooling fan, or even an open window) or another conversation happening in the same room, gets picked up by your microphone even when you are not speaking. This extra noise makes it harder for our host to manage the call in real time and to edit the recording later on.

While on the call and off mute, please avoid typing on your keyboard or many of the typical activities associated with the hobby workbench. Sawing, sanding, filing, and other tasks can all be heard through your mic. All these extra noise inputs can sometimes overpower the voice of the person who is speaking. They took the time and effort to call in to the show, and deserve an equal chance to be heard.

**Please MUTE your microphone when you are not actually speaking during the podcast.**

Skype Mute

Professional radio announcers are trained to mute their own mics when coughing, sneezing, clearing their throats, or making a comment to their crew. Skype has a mute function on its control panel and in its 'Conversation' menu. Some microphone have their own 'mute' button built-in.


Many people ask who has preference to talk on Model Rail Radio. In general the people on the call are picked through Tom's discretion. Here are some of the criteria that may show priority:

  • New Callers (with audio)
  • Longterm Participants who have not called in for a while
  • People who have provided practical insights previously
  • People who listen to the shows and have episodic content or can speak to previous show topics
  • People who have posted interesting content to the mailing list or Facebook group
  • People modeling unique or unusual prototypes
  • People who have unique knowledge
  • People who have specific knowledge on the topic being discussed on the show
  • People who have good audio and a good speaking voice