Radio may be a dying breed as television and the internet continue to grow and dominate the mass media market. However, as millions of commuters spend a significant amount of their days sitting in traffic, the need for radio news stations still exists. Here are some tips on how to write a radio news report.
Simple, short and sweet
Incorporate the “KISS” method; “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” You are writing a news report for the radio, not for a medical journal. Use simple terms but do not repeat words. Your audience is the general public, not a lecture hall at Harvard. This is also to ensure that a radio reporter or announcer who will read your report will be able to pronounce all the words correctly and easily.
Keep your sentences brief. The trick is to ensure that a radio news reporter or announcer can read any given sentence in your report with a single breath easily. You do not need to constantly read aloud every sentence after you’ve written it to ensure this is the case, but figure that the sentence should be about the size of one line in a word processing program, using an average-sized font.
Write your report in present tense. For instance: “A man shot and killed 35 people after he held up a bank, then surrendered to police. Authorities suspect he was a former employee.” becomes “A man shoots and kills 35 people after he holds up a bank, then surrenders to police. Authorities suspect he is a former employee”. Broadcast news is written is the present, print news is in past-tense. This gives the report more of an “action” feel and incorporates more drama.
Spell out the phonetic spelling of any names you feel someone reading your report would need, so that they pronounce them correctly. For instance, a foreign name like “Antonio Banderas” should be written “An-TONY-yo Ban-DARE-ahce”.
Keep your entire report short. This is not a print news article or a television report, which tends to retain viewers based on its video content. People will be more inclined to flip to another radio station if your report is too long. Three paragraphs should be the maximum.