Podcasting and Radio News

Class Agenda: Wednesday, September 24


***Pay close attention to this because there are a lot of holidays coming up!

  • There is no class this coming Monday, Sept. 30 because of Rosh Hashanah.
  • Scripts for your 4-5 minute radio story will be due Monday, Oct. 7; you will need to have completed your interviews and reporting by this point in order to write your scripts. We will not have class as usual that day; instead, I will be meeting with you all individually in my office to go through your scripts and give them an edit. I will send out a Google spreadsheet when it gets a little closer so you can all sign up for time slots. If none of the time slots work for you, we can schedule an edit session over the phone.
  • There is no class on Wednesday, October 9 because of Yom Kippur. 
  • There is no class on Monday, October 14 because of Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day. 
  • Your final, edited radio story, along with accompanying photos and web version, will be due by midnight Wednesday, October 16. Class that day will be devoted to editing and production, and the recording studio will be open for anyone who needs to record their narration.

A note on recording your narrations:

Here’s where we get into the art of it all. You may be reading from a script, but you don’t want to sound like you’re reading. Good audio is conversational. Pretend you’re telling a friend about this really interesting thing that just happened to you. Speak clearly but don’t over-enunciate, either.

Trends in narration: A lot of people on the radio these days seem to be doing a straight-up imitation of Ira Glass.

NPR Voice

Before we move on… any other pitches need to be workshopped?

In-class script-writing exercise

Look at this transcript and accompanying video and write a script for a short radio story using clips from this Ilhan Omar interview as your sound bites. Do some additional research beyond just what it said in this interview for context. Two or three sound bites are plenty.

Remember that the template for writing a script looks like this:

HOST INTRO: (The host gives background context on the story and introduces you, the reporter. For your radio stories, I recommend asking a friend or classmate to record this part.)

AMBI: (natural sounds and room tone go here)

TRACK: (your narration goes here)

ACT: [NAME]: (transcription of soundbites goes here)


…and so on until you sign off, saying “For Baruch College, this is ____ in New York.”

Remember that you’re writing for the ear, which means simple sentences, conversational style, and lots of description. Be careful to write into and out of the sound bites in a way that clearly introduces the speaker and sets up what they’re going to say.

Your soundbites (or actualities, also known as “ACTS” in the script) should be no longer than about 20 seconds each.

When deciding what to put into the narration vs. what sound bites to include, think about it this way:

Exposition/Description vs. Color/Emotion/Opinion.

The role of the host intro is to tell the listeners what they’re about to hear and why it matters, before throwing it to you, the reporter.

Exposition/Description. Your narration is there to give all the who/what/where/when/why info and to guide the listener through the story so they’re never confused as to who is speaking, where you are, and what’s happening—and to do all this as efficiently, clearly, and engagingly as possible.

Color/Emotion/Opinion. In most cases, if there’s a sound bite that’s full of dry facts and figures, it is best to include that information by paraphrasing it and writing it into the narration. The quotes we want to hear from people are ALIVE, full of humor, sass, sadness, insight, and opinion.

If you’re not finished writing the script by the end of class, that’s okay: just make sure you email it to me by Wednesday’s class so we can look at them together and practice recording narration and editing.

IMPORTANT: Two final reminders. Since you should all be going out and starting to record sound for your radio stories this week and next week,  DON’T FORGET to record 90 seconds to two minutes of ambient sound/room tone in the location where you conducted your interview. It should become a deeply ingrained habit to wrap up the interview and say “Now if you don’t mind, I’m just going to stay here and record a couple minutes of nothing!”

And lastly, let me know if you need to check out equipment since the college will be closed on Monday!