Working with Radio

Radio is a terrific medium for messages about health, nutrition, and lifestyle, and stations have a constant need for timely, interesting topics. One advantage of radio is that you can focus all your effort into the audio delivery of your message. However, because your voice is the consumer’s only connection to you and your messages, animation and inflection in your delivery is doubly important.

Radio is an extremely conversational news medium, and your voice is a critical aspect of getting and keeping the audience’s attention. Here are some tips:

  • Talk to the listeners, not at them. Don’t present the information in a way that you would deliver a lecture or meeting session. Instead, imagine that you are speaking with an individual one-on-one, as opposed to an audience.
  • Use a pleasant tone that conveys interest, enthusiasm, and energy even if at first it feels unnatural to speak in such an animated, bouncy manner. Remember that your audience will not see your visual language, but they will hear the energy. Smile! A physical smile is conveyed in your tone. And feel free to “talk with your hands.” Such gestures can help you build energy, too!
  • Think of your radio voice as a balance between quick and slow (pace) and high and low (pitch). Break up a longer thought or sentence with a pause, not only to allow listeners’ thoughts to catch up, but so you can take a breath. And don’t get stuck in a vocal pattern. For example, don’t let a list of bullet points sound like a list of bullet points. Mix it up by adding some rhetorical questions to express the same thought.
  • Adapt to your surroundings. Some studio equipment requires your mouth to be only an inch or two from the microphone. Others may have headphones so you can hear yourself from the perspective of the audience. No matter what the set-up, learn to make it work. Practice holding your notes so that your face doesn’t turn away from the microphone. If the seat height or microphone angle is awkward, ask the producer or technician if you may adjust it.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Focus on the areas identified above. Use a tape recorder so you can hear where you are improving and what areas you need to work on, and remember: a script should never sound “scripted,” or as if you are reading it. By the time you go into the studio, you should know the material inside and out.

Know Your Radio Formats

Listen to successful radio shows to determine how they work in getting messages across. Learn to identify the five formats used for radio programming, and tailor your message and style to the medium.

News: Most radio news stories are 30 to 60 seconds in length. A “hard news” item covers events, discoveries or research. Their function is to inform the listener about current information in a timely manner, and the delivery is brief and simple.

Talk show: These shows discuss topics of broad interest, usually in segments of 10 to 60 minutes, in a way that both informs and entertains the listeners. The show may be live or taped. Talk shows tend to be driven by the host’s personality and style.

Call-in show: This format generally provides the longest time slot for an interview and discussion of a topic; 30 minutes to two hours. These shows deal with consumer information in an entertaining manner. Guests are generally booked one to four weeks in advance.

Public affairs program: These shows and segments may be 10, 30 or 60 minutes in length, and usually air on Sundays or off-hours. Functions of this format are to inform, educate or provide a service. The show may be live but most often is taped.

Editorial or rebuttal: Many radio stations broadcast editorial commentary from management on current topics in the news and offer individuals airtime to respond. These broadcasts are usually 30 to 60 seconds long and are taped for later airing.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 

Tip of the Day

Vary your veggies! Make it easier to include plenty of vegetables in your day by always having them on hand; fresh, frozen, and canned (choose no-salt-added).


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