Aims & Objectives
- Identify the characteristics of a radio news feature and radio drama – plus the differences and similarities
- To produce two minutes scripts for both a radio feature and radio drama
- Compare both and identify differences and similarities
Basic questions for documentary/news article:
- What is the present situation?
- How has it come about?
- What will happen if it isn’t remedied?
- What steps are being taken?
- Who is taking them?
- When can we see a change?
- What is that change likely to be?
- Who, what, when, where?
News vs features:
News conveys factual information, hopefully of a more or less dramatic nature of which the listener is not aware.
Features on the other hand seek to convey context and meaning against which information can be viewed.
Feature story as a news story more like a piece of a short radio fiction. You must combine the rigors of factual reporting with the creative freedom of short-story telling fiction devices.
The feature story’s form must be more fluid than that of a news story; the invented pyramid style won’t work here because the story needs a definite beginning, middle and end.
Listeners won’t have to listen few conclusions; they will have to listen to the whole story to understand it.
Feature stories place a greater emphasis on facts that have human interest.
Features put people in the story; they make the reader think and care.
News features, which are either packages or follow ups that is linked to a breaking news event.
Timeless story, which doesn’t have to be used immediately. The information in this story will be just as relevant if saved fir a future issue.
How to make radio features:
- In either type of feature story, good reporting is essential.
- You collect as many details are possible.
- You describe people, settings and feelings, the elements of storytelling.
When all the details are added together, the listener is placed in the scene you are describing.
Placing pictures in a readers/listeners mind.
As if you are there as a reliable witness.
For each feature story, before you start your reporting, when you are just conceptualizing coverage and broadcasting, begin this way:
Who are the audiences for this story? (Multiple audience stakeholders)
What information do they need to have in the story so they can make up their own mind about what to think?
For instance, if the story is discussing a change in behaviour, can a citizen actually understand how that behaviour would affect them from the story?
What is missing?
How do you make local connections? Approach features on a personal level when reporting.
Finding subject matter
There are no restrictions on subject matter.
You are limited only by your imagination.
Often a feature story is a simple story about a common person in an uncommon circumstance.
The feature’s job is to find a fresh angle- to find the story behind the person.
Connect the story to deeper themes
The best stories reach us on some elemental level.
“There’s something very important that’s always going on in a very simple way in good stories.” NBC correspondent, John Larson.
Look at the story of why things happen, the way they do and then look for a way to tell that story.
Find a hook
Even the best writer can find it hard to get a readers interest when the story seems foreign to the reader. Is there a hook, some common ground or relatively unknown link that might get someone interested in the subject?
What is the thing readers need to know if they know almost nothing about the subject but it matters?
Give background and history
What background would a newcomer who is affected by the story need to know so that they might care about it?
Another virtue of asking what does my audience need to know is that it can lead to creating new entry points into stories. Make sure your language reaches your audience.
Choose a suitable design and hold to it. Planning must be a deliberate preface to gathering. Foresee or determine the shape of what is to come and pursue that shape. Make chunks the unit of compostition. Large blocks of recording can look formidable to you at multi track editing. But breaking them up too much can look like an advert. Moderation and order are the main considerations.
Use the active voice. It is generally more direct and vigorous than the passive.
Put statements in positive form. Avoid tame colourless language. Use the word ‘not’ as a means of denial or in antithesis, not as a means of evasion.
Use definite, specific, concrete language.
Find the right voice for your writing.
Black box research method-
Is it relevant and who cares about it?
Any feature should follow the 3 C test:
The beginning is everything. If this part does not work you are ‘up shit creek without a paddle.’ Your listeners will desert you.
The moment of arrival
This is how you drop your listeners into the story. The background and sub-text of previous histories is better explored through revelation in dramatic action.
Set up, struggle, resolution. Regard your play as a series of phases.
This is the story with lots of twists and turns. Run at least two storylines. Two sub plots would be interesting. Keep the plots linked logically within the same play. Make a major and minor plot linked.
Make people interested, excited, scared.
Main character must have sympathy of the audience.
Drama=conflict=audience. You want your audience to be emotional, laugh or cry.
Polarities or extremes
The art of storytelling is exploring the extreme limits of our psychological or physical existence.
This is how we engage dramatically with the world. Characters inform, argue, amuse, outrage, and argue through the ebb and flow of dialogue.
The golden rule is that every word, every line, every scene must serve a dramatic purpose in terms of characterisation and plot development. Drop anything that does not have a dramatic purpose.
Get your listener inside the world of your play. How?
- Sympathy or empathy with the main character.
- A good set up.
- An antagonist or villain.
- Great plot, twists and turns.
- Crisis at the beginning is dramatic and a great start
- Emotional intensity
- Escalate conflict so the structure climbs with tension and humour.
Write a short radio drama piece, two mins about:
Identity- the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.
Obsession- the state of being obsessed with someone or something.
Addiction- the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity.
Consumerism- the protection or promotion of the interests of consumers.
- A girl takes over her twins life
- An unhealthy relationship
OPERATOR: 911, what’s your emergency?
ROSE: My name is Rose Kendall, I live at 4671 Maple Lane. There’s a man standing just outside my house. He’s been here for like 20 minutes.
OPERATOR: Ok Ma’am, do you know this man?
ROSE: I don’t know his name but I see him around a lot. I think he’s been following me.
OPERATOR: Have you reported his behaviour to the police?
ROSE: (Frustrated sigh) I am now!
SOUND OF TYPING
OPERATOR: Ma’am, are all your doors locked?
ROSE: Yes, I locked all of them when I first saw him.
ROSE: Shh, Sammy! Be quiet! (Pause) Oh my god, he’s gone!
OPERATOR: What’s happening, Miss Kendall?
ROSE: (Stuttering) I-I turned away from the window to ‘shh’ my dog and-and now he’s gone! The man’s gone!
OPERATOR: Remain calm, ma’am. The police are on their way.
DOG CONTINUES GROWLING
ROSE: What is it, Sammy?!
LOUD SMASHING. ROSE SCREAMS.
OPERATOR: Ma’am. What’s happening, Ma’am?
ROSE: He’s just smashed the window! (Begins crying)
OPERATOR: I need you to hide, Miss Kendall. Find somewhere safe and lock yourself in if you can.
FOOTSTEPS AND UNEVEN BREATHING FOR SEVERAL SECONDS.
DOOR SLAMS. MORE FOOTSTEPS.
ROSE: (Whispering) O-Ok, I’m under the bed. (Gulp) Oh my god, this isn’t happening.
OPERATOR: The police are on their way. Is the man still in the house? Can you hear him?
ROSE: (Whispering) Yeah, he’s-he’s upstairs now.
OPERATOR: Ok, I need you to stay calm and be quiet. The Police are two minutes away.
SHALLOW BREATHING. CREAK OF DOOR OPENING.
SILENCE FOR 10 SECONDS.
ROSE: I-I think he’s gone. I-
OPERATOR: Ma’am?! Ma’am?! Rose!
SONG FADES OUT.
HOST: That was Bon Jovi with You Give Love a Bad Name. Now, we’ve got an urgent newsflash for you.
HOST: Miami Dade Police Department have just released a statement regarding the case of Rose Kendall. Chief of Police, Mark Anderson has just announced that they have arrested a suspect in relation to the attempted murder of 23-year-old Rose Kendall. Kendall, an art student, was savagely attacked in her home last Monday. She suffered multiple stab wounds and head wounds causing major internal bleeding. Luckily, the police arrived just in time to save the young woman and she is now recovering in hospital. However by the time the police had arrived, her attacker was already gone. Police, however, now have arrested suspect 35 year-old construction worker, Neil Clarke who had been reportedly stalking Kendall weeks leading up to her attack. Chief Anderson had this to say about the matter.
AUDIO SWITCHES TO AUDIO FROM EARLIER PRESS CONFERENCE.
ANDERSON: At 3:18pm this afternoon, Neil Clarke was arrested on suspicion of the attempted murder of Rose Kendall. We believe he was working alone and we are not looking for anyone else in connection to the crime.
AUDIO SWITCHES BACK TO RADIO HOST.
HOST: Clarke’s court date is yet to be announced. We will keep you updated.
This week, we learnt about Radio features of both fiction and non-fiction. We learnt about radio plays and news features.
We learnt about this for multiple reasons. One being so that we would be able to explore the medium of radio. Radio plays a large part in our society, both in creative stories and news features. We were also taught about this medium to learn more about the different types of media and to show us another form that we could either use for our FMP or to pursue as a career.
Another reason we learnt about this was to explore the power of writing. In creative writing and journalism, the readers connection to the piece is through the words. Whereas with radio work, you connect through the words you hear, not read. I find the idea of creating a radio play intriguing as it is the opposite of the creative writing I usually do. Setting the scene and getting the audience to connect is reliant on the spoken script and FX which I think would be challenging for me but still something I would love to delve into more. Creating a radio play is now on my list of ideas for my FMP.