"Should I script my radio shows?"
I'd say yes because:
- You will have more control over the content.
- You may forget what you planned to say.
- You establish structure and maintain the flow.
- You'll have the drive to research and rehearse.
Well, most of the spoken content on the radio is first written down and scripted.
So—let's delve into how to write great radio scripts:
First things first:
Scripts can plan out the basic audio elements of radio shows. Your script can include:
- Spoken word - You can write down the dialogue in advance or allocate an ad-libbed segment —adlibbing entails speaking with no prior written script
- Music Tracks - You may pre-select and arrange music tracks, for instance, specifying the track to follow a call-in segment or ad break.
- Sound effects and radio imaging
- The script can incorporate radio imaging items, ads, promos, sound effects, etc..
Next, let's look at the types of radio scripts.
Types of radio scripts
a. Rundown script, fact sheet, or timeline
The timeline arranges segments or entire shows chronologically. It defines how they are ordered during the broadcast. You should allocate enough time for each entry.
General rundown scripts can be prepared for the entire day. Specific rundowns are used for individual shows.
Here is a simple illustration of a rundown script:
07:00 hrs: Intro of the Morning Breakfast Show (5 minutes)
07:05 hrs: Morning Weather and Traffic Update (10 Minutes)
07:15 hrs: Talk segment with Morning Hosts (10 Minutes)
07:25 hrs: Music Segment - Two Tracks + Station ID (10 Minutes)
07:35 Hrs: First Ad Spot
Also called semi-complete scripts, you can prepare semi-scripts for shows that call for some ad-libbing or improvisation.
The script will contain hard-coded segments where the host reads from the script.
In a radio interview or panel game show, you can script the intro, outro, and talk segments. You can define the radio imaging and sound effects. Your script should also allocate time for guests to respond to questions.
Photo by Fernando Lavin
c. Full scripts
Full scripts are detailed, and you'll read them word by word.
You can also add other script elements such as sound effects and music tracks.
d. Music radio scripts
You can prep a script for a music program, for instance, a top 40 countdown.
In between tracks, you can script links as well.
Research exciting bits of info about the track or artist. Like the artist's birthday, how many pets they have, the latest news about them, etc.
It's best practice to keep links between one minute to one minute, thirty seconds.
e. Spoken word/talk radio scripts
These scripts are meant for spoken-word radio formats like news, magazine programs, documentaries, interviews, announcements, and commentaries.
How to write an excellent radio script
1. Know your listeners in-and-out
The first question to ask is: "Who I'm I talking to?"
People driving off to work from 6 am to 9 am in the morning? Stay at home parents tuning-in from 10 am to 3 pm?
Understand the desires, goals, ages, likes, dislikes, and pain-points of your listeners. It's the first step to creating a radio script that speaks to them.
Ensure that you have a series of messages and key points that you want to convey.
By effectively connecting with your listeners, you stir their emotions. You may induce feelings of happiness, inspiration, exhilaration, and more.
Listeners who are fired up can do your bidding like supporting a cause, purchasing a product, visiting your website, or calling-into the studio!
Keep these factors in mind when evaluating your potential listeners:
- What do they expect from your radio show? Are they tuning in for the entertainment or education value?
- Does your script align with their expectations?
- If you were the listener, would you stick around till the end? If not, make your script more fascinating.
- Is your script using the same lingo and words that your target listeners use?
2. If you feel overwhelmed, prepare an outline
The thought of writing a 2000 word radio script may overwhelm you.
Surmount this fear by preparing an outline. For instance:
Morning In-Studio Interview
Play Station ID + morning show jingle
[Duration: 30 seconds]
Introduce the show and the special guest. Tell listeners what to expect (exciting interview questions)
[Duration 90 seconds]
Question one: Ask about family background, place of birth, etc.
Question two: Professional background, first job, etc.
[Duration 5 minutes]
Armed with an outline, carry out your research to fill in any knowledge gaps.
3. Sound natural and conversational
Write the way you speak. A well-written script, read word by word, should be invisible to the ear.
Your script has to sound natural and relaxed. Now, how can you make it conversational?
Read your radio script aloud after writing it. If you catch your breath in the middle of a sentence, shorten the sentence.
Watch out for words that are hard to articulate. Ensure your listeners understand the meanings behind the words you use, and go with simple words to pass the message more clearly.
After preparing the script, you can also designate someone to edit and improve it.
If you can't find someone to help, just put your script in a text-to-speech program, for instance, the Microsoft Word text-to-speech feature.
Have it read back to you.
*Tip: Take advantage of free online tools like the Hemingway Editor that highlights complex sentences.
4. Simplify your script
Cut out unnecessary words by shortening your sentences. Ensure that you're not repeating yourself over and over again.
Listeners get bored quickly.
They are also impatient, and you must hook them as soon as possible by placing fascinating information at the beginning.
5. Pay attention to the rhythm
Create rhythm and flow in your radio script.
Use long sentences to elaborate on an idea, pass a message, or make a convincing argument. Long sentences are relaxed and get people thinking.
Short sentences add tension and drama.
6. Let your personality shine to connect with the listener
You can't force people to listen to you. It's through your words that you can win them over.
Let your personality shine. So are you tough, compassionate, strong, funny, or personable? Infuse the script with personality.
Address the listener directly using the word "YOU." It's also expedient to use "our" and "we."
Use anecdotes and jokes in your radio script to become more entertaining.
Tell listeners about your day-to-day experiences. What you had for breakfast can be a fascinating topic.
Don't hold back any personal stories that your listeners can relate to. Little by little, win your audience over with tidbits from your world.
7. Write down your ideas wherever inspiration strikes
Creating a radio script is a creative process.
You need to generate great ideas. Make witty observations, jokes, etc.
Your best ideas show up at unexpected times like as you brush your teeth before bed.
So, it helps to have a notebook. If you don't fancy writing on paper...
Your smartphone has an app to take notes. There are more feature-rich note-taking apps on the app store.
8. Write, write & write
You won't become a radio script guru just by reading this article.
I secretly wish you could.
The path to becoming a radio or podcast script genius starts by putting these tips into practice and writing many drafts.
You'll get better by editing, revising, and performing. With time, you'll know what works.
There will be an improvement in your shows. Coming up with a written radio script will become effortless and natural.
I still don't like the idea of scripting my radio or podcast show!
In this case:
Work on your improvisation/ad-lib skills. Improvisation is a skill that you can master.
There are online classes for becoming better at improvisation or becoming funny.
I also recommend preparing a rundown script to serve as general guidance.
It helps to research and write down facts or notes that you can use during your shows.
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