Learning Radio by Negative Example

This weekend, I learned something about writing for broadcasting. These principles were told to me several times, like most headstrong, fledgling radio reporters, I had to make this mistake on my own. And boy, it was a mistake. I was writing a segment of a podcast for NaNoWriMo and after I had polished the second draft, I send it around for people to listen.

In a quick IM session with Rene, she wondered why I wasn’t telling this story through a narrative. She said I didn’t really have a “story”. And that I only had the pattern: ABC / ABC / ABC / ABC.

I had told her two days prior, that I needed to make my own mistakes, and that’s just what I went ahead and did. I made the mistake of thinking about writing for radio in terms of writing a five paragraph essay. But I couldn’t just take her word for it that that’s what I had done. I remembered Ira Glass’ presentation from several weeks ago at the Scottsdale Center for the arts, wherein, he said explained his theory for writing for broadcasting is about writing anecdotes:

So, to fix this. Rene sat me down and helped me to transform this script for Draft 2. Notice how the highlighted text all are in alternating colors? This is because each color is a different interviewee. Rene then had me realign all the ACTs in the next Draft 3 so that I am only talking about one person at a time. See how the colors are arranged in large blocks? Rene also had me re-recording all my TRXs. And then Rene remixed the audio (while I went to my grandfather’s 99th birthday) and then, when I got home, what came out of this exercise was a completely different story using essentially the same clips. Have a listen.

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  • christy

    OMG, John, SO much better with the changes!

    As a mere listener, I would say there was only one tiny, tiny segment that still felt a bit stilted, and truthfully, I don’t know how you’d change it without problems with the narrative……

    It was in the midst of the Lisa portion…..

    (lisa speaking……….)

    John: “But she has no regrets”

    (lisa speaking…….)

    Just seemed a bit abrupt. But really, that was all that struck me as awkward.

    Nice, nice job!

  • Thanks Christy! Good to hear from you! Hope your holidays are low on stress and high on enjoying simple pleasures with the ones you love… JT