As radio continually beats the concept of “telling stories” to death, it’s important to remember that real people can’t talk.
That’s why—in music radio—we edit phone calls, so we can tighten them up, take out redundancy and sentences that don’t add anything, and remove irrelevant names of people we don’t know (or care about). Real people—people who are not trained professionals—aren’t likely to have the skill set to hold the listener’s attention as they tell a story. The average person is likely to go off “chasing rabbits” at any moment, which you know if you’ve edited very many calls. They mean well; they just don’t have the “chops” to keep it from bogging down.
And normal people usually aren’t great writers, either. They tend to stiffen up and use “print language” when they write, instead of the natural, everyday “street talk” that we want to use on the air. Keeping in mind that only people with cataracts want to be read to, when you do want to put someone’s email or Facebook posting on the air, please don’t just read it verbatim. The way it works best is for you to tell as much of the story as you can in your own words, just quoting an occasional line from them. That way, you can keep the story moving, leaving out repetition and unnecessary details that can easily make a genuinely heartfelt story come across like an A. A. meeting.
Now please don’t misinterpret this to mean that you shouldn’t put phone calls on the air, or share someone’s Facebook comment or email. Those ingredients are great, IF you make them airworthy.
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Radio Talent Coach
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2013 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.