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Just start talkin’

By Ty Stockton
There’s not much to putting together a radio show. Just start talking.
I’m not here to talk about selling the show to sponsors or radio stations, although that’s by far the most important part. If you’re looking for advice on that, check back issues of Outdoors Unlimited for anything written by the late Tony Dean. His advice is far better than any I could give.
The man was a marvel when it came to marketing himself, and if I’d absorbed even a tenth of the advice he tried to give me, I’d be set for life. Unfortunately, I’m still going back to Tony’s writings and notes from sessions he hosted at OWAA conferences in an effort to pick up a little more I can use. I find something new every time.
But even with Tony’s advice, selling your show is the hard part. This article deals with something that is much easier.
Interviews can be great for radio shows and they’re essential for longer-format programs. But if you’re asked to put together a two- or three-minute show, they’re not as crucial. In fact, if you don’t have a great interviewee, they can actually drag your show down.
What do you do if your interview flops and you don’t have time to do it over? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: just start talking.
Whether I have interviews, I generally script my shows. I don’t trust myself to stay on topic otherwise. During a shorter show, I don’t have that luxury. So, if I’ve recorded an interview, I listen to it, find the best pieces, and work them into my script. If I don’t have an interview that day, I just write what I want to say.
The trouble with reading from a script is that you have a tendency to sound like you’re reading. One way to get around that is to read the script aloud several times to get a good feel for it, then try to recite it without having to refer back to it very often. Imagine you’re just talking to a friend instead of speaking into a microphone.
Another thing to keep in mind when writing the script is to write like you talk, instead of like you write. Changing my writing style was the hardest thing for me to do when I started doing radio. It has actually improved my written work. In many situations, when you write like you speak, you connect more with readers.
If you have a good interview to work into the program, it makes it easier. You’ll spend a bit more time editing the interview down into usable sound bites, but you’ll have another voice in the show to make it more interesting to the listener. Doing an interview seems to make it a little easier to sound more natural, too. You actually have someone to talk to, even if that person’s not in your studio when you’re producing the show.
No matter how you go about it, it’s really just a matter of talking. Pick a specific topic you can talk about for two minutes, not a subject so broad you’ll have trouble saying what you want to say in the allotted time. Script it out in a way that sounds natural when you read it out loud and then record it as though you’re having a conversation with a buddy.
That’s all there is to it. If you’re blessed with the gift of gab, you owe it to yourself to move into radio.
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