Writing script for radio is a tricky task. You have to be clear and concise from the get-go as your listeners cant rewind radio to understand a tricky sentence, and you have to grab their attention immediately and hold onto it, preventing them from turning the dial. It’s an interesting balance to strike but by using creativity and personality you can write an engaging, unique script. The following is a basic step by step list guide for people who are new to radio script feature writing.
- Get everything in order by writing up your tape, listen to all your quotes and tracks and transcribe them. Note the timing and length of all tracks to help you edit your script to the right length. Separate out the cuts that you could potentially use and discard the unwanted ones.
- Go over your potential tracks and choose your definites, keep them short as listeners won’t really focus on longer pieces, a great long track could be edited down or broken into segments. Really think about what each cut will do in the script, will it fit it with the others and create a good narrative? Sometimes good tracks simply won’t fit in, and you have to be prepared to let them go.
- Start writing your script. Sorting through your tracks has probably already helped you figure out what direction to take and what the story is going to say, but it can be helpful to talk to your editor or other people to help you solidify your thoughts. Laying your cuts into order and then writing your script in order can also be useful.
- Write a gripping anchor intro. This is the set up to your script and how the announcer will grab the listeners’ attention, a taste of what’s to come leaving them wanting more information.
- Treat your script like a story; it should have a solid beginning, engaging middle and satisfying end. You may only have provide loose points for a flexible talk based show or a word for word script for a heavier news show.
- Monitor lengths. Try to not have all your cuts and segments the same length. It is much more audibly appealing for the listener to change it up. Ie: 10 seconds followed by 5 seconds then 20 seconds etc.
Your finished script will be written with clear indications of instructions, timing and inserts so that all parties involved can follow it.
Great radio scripting will sound natural and with an excellent announcer it can even leave room for ad-libbing. Most listeners would be surprised at just how much of their favourite shows and presenters are using highly scripted material. Always keep in mind a few key ideas in order to write a natural-sounding script, who the intended audience is, the style of the station and the type of music being played.
Good radio scripts provide support and flow for your announcer and creates a professional, organised and interesting listening experience for your listener.
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