8 Tips on How to Write a Radio Script

"Should I script my radio shows?"

I'd say yes because:

a) You will have more control over content.

b) You may forget what you planned to say.

c) You establish structure and maintain the flow.

d) You'll have the drive to research and rehearse.

Well, most of the spoken content on the radio is first written down.

So—let's delve into how to write great radio scripts:

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First things first:

Scripts have three elements

  • The spoken word (can be written or ad-libbed, which means performed with no prior planning)
  • Music
  • Sound effects

You also have to know the types of radio scripts to know what to work with:

Types of radio scripts

Rundown script/timeline/fact sheet

It lists items in the radio show with fixed time slots.

You can create general rundowns for the entire day or specific rundowns for each show.

E.g. 

07:00 Intro: 05

07.05 Weather: 10

07.15 Promo for morning show: 05

Semi-scripts

Also called semi-complete scripts, you can prepare them for shows that call for some ad-lib or improvisation.

For example, interviews or panel shows, where you script the intro, outro, and questions. 

And leave space for the guest to respond.

Full scripts

Full scripts are read word by word.

In addition to the spoken word, you add other script elements such sound effects and music. 

Music radio scripts

You can prep a  script for a music program, for instance, a top 40 countdown.

In between tracks, script some links.

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 1 minute to 1 minute, 30 seconds.

Spoken word/talk radio scripts

Radio has a lot of spoken word formats like news, magazine programmes, documentaries, interviews, announcements, and commentaries. 

How to write an excellent radio script

1. Know your listeners in and out

Ask:

Who I'm I talking to?

People driving off to work from 6 to 9 am in the morning?

Or stay at home parents tuning-in from 10 to 3 PM?

Knowing your listener is the key to your radio script success.

Have a communication goal you want to achieve with your script.

Your goal may be getting the listener to feel happy, energized or inspired.

Or have them take a specific action like support a cause.

Research with an aim to unravel:

What do they expect from your radio show?

Will your script deliver on their expectations?

Place yourself in their shoes and judge your material from their perspective.

Does it fascinate you?

If you were the listener, would you stick around till the end?

Determining the quality of your work can be hard.

Here is a trick to use: 

Write your radio script.

Put it away for a couple of days or hours.

Then review it with fresh eyes.

2. If you feel overwhelmed, prepare an outline

The thought of writing a 2000 word radio script may overwhelm you.

Surmount this fear by outlining.

For instance: 

My Morning Interview

Intro 

Play Station ID + morning show jingle

[Duration: 30 seconds]

Welcome listeners

Introduce the show and the special guest. Tell listeners what to expect (two exciting interview questions)

[Duration 90 seconds]

Body

Question one: Ask about family background, place of birth, etc.

Question two: Professional background, first job, etc.

Armed with an outline, carry out your research.

And prep your script.

3. Make it sound human and conversational 

Write the way you speak.

A well-written script, read word by word, should be invisible to the listener.

Your script has to sound natural and relaxed.

So how can you make it conversational?

Simple:

Read your radio script aloud. 

Or have someone do the reading.

Can't find humans ready to help? 

No problem, put your script in a text-to-speech program. Microsoft Word has a text to speech feature.

If you catch your breath in the middle of a sentence...

shorten your sentences.

If words are too hard to articulate well or whose meaning would be lost on the listener...

use simple words wherever possible.

Also, take advantage of free online tools like the Hemingway Editor that helps you identify complex sentences.

4. Keep your scripts clear

Cut out unnecessary words by shortening your sentences.

It will help you avoid repeating yourself over and over again.

—because listeners may get bored by it.

Remember, your audience will have a fraction of a second to understand you.

You also have to hook your listeners as soon as possible.

5. Pay attention to the rhythm 

To create rhythm and pace in your radio script:

Use long and short sentences.

Short sentences usually add tension.

Long sentences are relaxed.

6. Let your personality shine and connect with the listener

You can't force people to listen to you.

You have to win them over.

Shine with your personality.

Address the listener directly using you & your.

Also, use our and we.

You can also include anecdotes or jokes in your radio script.

Tell your listeners about your day-to-day experiences like what you had for breakfast.

Some personal stories lurking around in your brain may fascinate them. 

Win with people by drawing them into your world.

7. Write down your ideas wherever inspiration strikes

Creating a radio script is pretty much a creative process.

You need to generate great ideas.

Witty observations, jokes, etc.

Such ideas may come to you when you least expect it like in the bathroom.

So, it helps to have a notebook.

Before you object to writing on paper:

Your smartphone has an app to take notes. 

And if it doesn't, there are other note-taking apps on the app store.

8. Write, write & write

You won't become a radio script guru just by reading this post. 

I secretly wish you could.

Only by putting these tips into practice, and writing many radio scripts can you become a radio script genius.

Get better by editing, revising and performing your radio scripts.

In time, you'll know what works.

You'll create better shows.

And coming up with a radio script will become effortless and natural.

But I don't want to write a radio script?

In that case:

Work on your improvisation/ad-lib skills. 

Improvisation is a skill that you can get better and better at.

There are classes for it.

I also recommend preparing a rundown script.

And researching and writing down facts you can refer to during your shows.

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  • Hugues
  • Updated April 9, 2019
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