7 Rules for Writing Radio

Writers and art directors, here is what I would like to tell you about radio:

  1. Radio is usually :30 or :60. Time your scripts accordingly. (This applies to TV, too.)
  2. When timing your scripts, read it aloud, and read it slowly. Don't kid yourself. Read slow.
  3. If your script comes in at :32 seconds, don't tell yourself you'll just have the talent read it faster. Edit. Even if it hurts.
  4. Rule of thumb: 80 words for a :30, and 155 for a :60.
  5. Find the little ways of making your spot real. If your spot takes place in bed, consider having the talent lie down while they read your script. If they're supposed to be tired and sweaty, have them do jumping jacks before each take. If they turn their head away from the person they're talking to, have them turn their head away from the microphone.
  6. Make sure your script goes somewhere. Don't just tell the same joke three times in sixty seconds. If it's not building, it's not award-winning.
  7. Great art directors can (and do) help create great radio. Radio is visual. Ergo, art directors can help create great radio.