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Radio Broadcasting | Part 1 of 4: How To Structure a Short Radio Feature

Radio Broadcasting | Part 1 of 4: How To Structure a Short Radio Feature

Paul Cross: Hi, I’m Paul Cross, I want to
talk to you today, a little bit about how to create a short radio feature. This can
be used for a three-minute feature, a five-minute feature. You can even expand this idea to
a documentary, the kind of programming I often create. I want to talk to you about how to
design and structure a short radio feature. Let’s suppose you are given the opportunity
to create a five-minute feature, story, interview, program, music show, whatever, to run on radio.
Let’s consider this clock to represent your five minutes. Here’s your start. How are
you going to structure the show? How should you put it together? What do you want your
listener to hear? Let’s not even think necessarily the kind of content you’re going to do,
let’s think about: how should I put the show together, so that it’s going to flow.
Well, I think you need, here, some kind of beginning of the show: let’s call this a
“show open”. I think you need an opening to the show. If you think of most of what
you hear on radio, and think of what you see on TV, and YouTube, etc., shows have a beginning
of some sort. We’ll call that our “open”. I suppose, when you’re done, you probably
want an ending. Let’s call that a close. We’re starting here at zero, that’s your
beginning time, and we’re coming back here, at the end. Let’s say it’s five minutes.
So, where are we going to go within these five minutes? Well, we’re going to open
the show by letting the listener know what the show is going to be about. Maybe there’s
a little bit of music in there. Maybe there’s a little bit of wild sound, background sound.
Maybe you’re doing a feature story here at Humber about nature and the Arboretum,
and maybe you want us to hear the sound of the Arboretum. Or maybe it’s a story about
life at Humber, and maybe you’re saying: “I’m here in the beautiful Arboretum”,
and here’s an airplane going over. So we’ll have some wild sound of airplane flying over.
Then, within the structure of the show, let’s think of what we need to know. What’s this
story really all about? Lets just ask that. And the first 30-seconds or so of a short
feature, maybe you’re establishing, what is this story really about, and who is involved
in it? This isn’t a template, it’s not a formula, you don’t have to follow this
all the time. This is just an idea of how you can map it out. Maybe there’s an issue
in the story. So you want to say, well, “what are our we doing about this issue?” What
are we doing about airplane noise flying over the Arboretum? What are we doing about the
need for good jobs? What are we doing about the need for supplies or donations for the
food bank? What are we doing to help find a donor for a liver for a child in the hospital?
And in the end, once we’ve established, what’s it all about, who’s involved, what
are we doing about it? Maybe we want to talk a little bit about the future, or what comes
next. And then, we’ll have our closing and our conclusion. So let’s just consider then,
what we want within a short radio feature for radio. We need an “open”, We need
to know “what is it about?”, we need to know:
“Who’s involved”, we need to know: “What are we doing?”, and maybe, something about
the future. Let’s call that: “What’s next?”. There’s just an idea: flowing
through the show, the content can be whatever you want it to be. It can be an interview;
it can be pieces of interviews with narration around them. There can be some music in there.
There can be some wild sound, there can be some sound effects if it’s that type of
show. But, we start here at zero. Five minutes later, we’ve heard our complete story. After
we’ve done that, we’re going to have to write an intro so somebody can use the show
on the air, and I’ll talk about that next time.

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