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RAB Research Archive

It’s radio, so write for the ear



This technique is so simple, so seemingly self-evident that I’m almost embarrassed to tell you about it. Almost.

We’ve all been told over and over to “write for the ear” when doing radio, yet we constantly hear commercials that assume every listener has been issued a script and is reading along. This frightening belief lurks in the minds of many advertisers.

In a good radio commercial, people talk like people talk, not as if they were reading a newspaper ad. There’s a certain spontaneous feel to a conversation or even a monologue in a well-written radio commercial.

What keeps us from writing something that sounds natural? Most of us have internal "editors" -- those left brain tendencies that want to tidy up sentences, correct punctuation and grammar, and make people agree with each other; in other words, take all the fun, energy, and conflict out of the commercial.

How can you bypass the internal editor? Don’t write your radio commercial, "talk" it. Speak into any kind of portable recording device instead of writing the commercial. Don't worry about length, sentence structure or even if it makes sense at first. Just start with an idea and let the words flow.

You'll discover that Mr. Editor creeps in less and less and some of those spontaneously recorded thoughts will actually be some of the best radio you've ever created. It's a way of accessing the right brain more directly. The time for a thought to be transformed from an idea into words on paper or on screen can allow a lot of the magic and many of the original ideas to be lost.

Dictating is instant. Concepts that might not be accessible later on will be preserved. You can do this while your hands are doing something else, like washing dishes, driving or disarming nuclear devices.

Later you can edit your spot to the right length, develop characters more fully and create a beginning, middle, and end. Now you’ll probably have enough material for several spots.

Recording your words can be your best technique to become a more effective radio creator. Just use it to “talk” your spots.

Source: Radio creative consultant Jeffrey Hedquist





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