Writing for Radio – The Basics

 In Lessons and Ideas
A Video Podcasting Workshop by Victoria Fenner

April 26, 2011


Good writing is good writing.  Whether you’re writing for radio, print, TV or the internet, a lot of the same basics apply.  Clarity,  good organization of your thoughts and themes, and a vocabulary that your listeners/readers/viewers will understand are all important.

But there are a few things which are specific to the medium of radio because of its unique nature:

1.) Unlike print, radio listeners can’t go back to the part they’ve missed.  It has to be clear the first time, because there is no second chance.

2.) Unlike TV, there are no pictures to reinforce your words.  That means your script has to do all the describing.  It also has to grab the listener’s attention.  You can’t back into the main point. You have to get to it quickly without a long preamble.

3.) Unlike Internet, it’s not available for weeks at a time.  You have one, and only one, opportunity to make an impact.

4.) Radio is conversational.   Think of the most boring speech you have ever attended.  For starters, the presenter probably read it.   And it probably sounded like a term paper, full of jargon and long-winded sentences.  Does anybody really talk like that?

5.) Radio is personal – you’re talking to one person at a time.  That’s why your writing has to sound like it is talked, not read.  Example – why lectures don’t work on radio.  the script doesn’t exist all by itself. It must be written to be performed.

6.) Radio writing has to be tight and clear.  that’s why radio stories are usually short – ? listeners will stop listening if they hear the same voice endlessly.

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