Steps for story-based farm radio programming – Step 8: Outline or Script

    | February 23, 2009

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    Broadcasters participating in the African Farm Radio Research Initiative (AFRRI) recently engaged in training to produce story-based radio programming. We’re sharing part of the training materials here in the Radio Resource Bank. Below you’ll find Step 8 of an eight-step guide to story-based farm radio programming, which looks at the Outline or Script.

    To re-visit the first four steps, visit the following:
    -Step 1: Topical thinking
    -Step 2: Practical research
    -Step 3: Focus and story idea
    -Step 4: Formats and program plan
    -Step 5: Interviewing and well-crafted questions
    -Step 6: Getting a good recording
    -Step 7: Adjusting the focus

    Defining Program Shape
    Programs need a “shape.” Producers should ask: What does the audience need to know and when do they need to know it? Look for a definable story arc. For example, your arc might move from what to why to how. There are many possibilities. Decide what “shape” you think works best for your listeners.

    Example: In a program about maize storage, you might first let the audience learn about ways that maize is damaged during storage. You might introduce the idea that maize can rot because it was not dry enough when stored. Then, your listeners might want to hear tips on how to check storage readiness by biting or winnowing maize to make sure it’s dry enough and will not rot.

    Deciding on the Program’s “Voice”Will your program have a lot of sound? Will there be music? Will it be based on studio talk, on field pieces, or will it combine both? What is the tone of the program? Is it serious, playful, critical or helpful? These questions need to be considered to ensure a consistent “voice” for the program. Listeners should be able to flip on the radio and identify the program without hearing its title because they recognize the overall voice of the program. A consistent and distinctive voice helps builds listener loyalty; listeners will know what to expect. If they like it because it suits the needs of the audience, they will keep coming back. And that is what it is all about.

    Example: An AFRRI team in Malawi wrote a signature tune to capture local sounds and reinforce messages about storage. In their feedback, the community said they liked the music very much – they suggested only that, next time, the team should write and sing a song about maize.