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Writing For Radio

Radio as a means of communication is very effective. It is a medium where the "theatre of mind" can be created by using sound only. The medium in itself is very powerful and wide-reaching because of the primary reason that the receivers are highly cheap and portable. And with the advent of an inbuilt radio in mobile phones, the public access has become higher. Don't you listen to Radio every morning when you are driving down to work?

The medium is simple and also relatively inexpensive in production terms. It has an imaginative potential for the listener to add his/her own visual interpretation.

Radio as a medium is direct and has a massive, immediate distribution. As a major news source, it is widely heard and accepted. As an entertainment medium, it is psychologically acceptable.

In any kind of production, the script invariably forms the backbone. Sound is the entire means of communication in radio.

Writing for radio is a complex and difficult but not impossible process. In the field of literature there are a variety of forma a writer can attempt: the novel, the short story, the essay, the poem, the drama. Each one has its definite pattern.

Radio writing has likewise evolved into many forms. Talks and plays appear to be the major ones, but there are scores of other types, each having a variety of brands.Talks may be of so many kinds-interviews, discussions, sermons, unscripted round-table discussions. Then there are specific talks for different age groups and professional groups; for women, farmers, industrial workers.

Likewise news could be given in different formats: straight news, news analysis, commentaries, spot-renderings, flash backs etc.Writing for radio must be precise and properly proportionated.It is not easy to be simple, direct and brief. One has to develop the skills of writing with brevity and to-the-point, and resist the temptation of writing prolonged scripts, talks, features or dramas. The time factor is all important. It does not help if the script is long and complicated.

The proper uses of words, the right mode of delivery, style are equally important. It is an art to produce rich effect by familiar words and to sustain interest. Through radio programmes we want to tell something or the other. The art of telling something, say, a story, is an old one, mastered by few. The words used must be such that they can show, point out, announce, declare, with rich effect, without visual aids. In the choice of words, one must exercise judgement and aptness. Usually, the words used should be specific and concrete. Words are symbols, and when properly used an understood, they are carriers of exact meaning. Words, when uttered, describe something with a certain amount of expression, of feeling, reflecting the personality of the talker, resulting in some effect, achieving certain ends. Since we are restricted only to the aural sphere (listening), the familiar words have an important bearing. Pronunciation is a science and the words must be uttered properly if we want to create the right, the appropriate effects.

Script writing for radio which has to be in conventional style means writing for the ear. Newspapers obviously are written for the eye, which essentially means that if readers do not understand something, they can return to the paragraph or sentence and read it a second time. In broadcast news, on the contrary, they hear the copy just once. So, broadcast copy must be written clearly; thoughts must be expressed quickly with brief, crisp sentences. Broadcast writers must write the way most people speak. Short words are often easier to understand than long ones and, crucially or broadcast news, where time is precious, they take less time to deliver. Some examples are:

Avoid Use
Police abandoned the search Police gave up the search
Extraordinary Unusual
Transform Change

Emphasis is on simple writing but simple language does not mean a language devoid of embellishment, ornamentation or an extension of meaning

Long sentences should be avoided while writing script for radio news. The sentences as well as paragraphs should be short. The sentences that produce information overload should be avoided. The sentences should be broken into parts for easier understanding. Also attempts should be made to reduce the number of details in one sentence. Avoid sentences which are longer than 16-18 words. Long sentences should be split into shorter ones.

Apart from giving scripted stories, an important part of a radio reporter's job is to give voice dispatches which have become an essential part of radio bulletins. Broadcast news must present a sense of immediacy. Use of present sense verb, particularly present progressive verbs; which suggests on-going action adds to the immediacy. Such instances which are quite common on TV these days are called, "Breaking news" which essentially means news is being reported at the time it is developing. Such news items are quite common during election result broadcasts or important happenings. Apart from news script writing, much would also depend on how the news readers present the news bulletin.


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