and H). For radio copy to include the who, what, where,
when, why and how in the lead would be too
cumbersome. There is no time for nonessential details
in radio news items. For the most part, news stories run
from 20 to 30 seconds. Spot announcements run from
10 to 60 seconds, and features may run for two or three
minutes, depending on the topic.
The lead sentence must gain the attention of the
listeners and orient them on the facts that will follow in
the body of the story.
When you begin a story with a persons name or a
number, you risk the possibility of that information
escaping your listener. Have you ever wished that a
newscaster or announcer would repeat something
because you either joined the story in progress or did not
initially give full attention to what was said? Some
writers remedy this by repeating key information later
in the story. Unless you are striving for special effect,
avoid names and numbers at the start. Do not use an
unknown name at the beginning. It is much better to
say, A San Diego sailor was cited for heroism today,
than to say, Seaman Phillip Jones was cited for heroism
today. Start the story with a general what happened
lead; then mention the recipient by name.
NAMES AND TITLES
In the case of names and titles being used together,
titles should precede names. It should be Hialeah
Mayor Perfecto Hernandez not Perfecto Hernandez,
Hialeah Mayor. Alert your listener as to whom you are
about to name by prefixing the name with the persons
You should refer to federal officeholders by title or
as mister. For example, you would use President
Clinton or Mr. Clinton; Mr. Gore or Vice
President Gore; Senator Simpson or Mr. Simpson.
If a difficult name is unessential, use only the
persons title, such as The Ambassador from
Nigeria . ..
Generally, it is better to omit the middle initial of a
persons name unless it is a well-known part of the
persons name, such as Howard K Smith, William F.
Buckley or John F. Kemedy. The other exception to this
rule is when the nature of the story requires further
clarification, such as in births or deaths.
In broadcast writing, you must be aware of certain
categories of words that are potential trouble areas.
These categories are explained in the following text.
In day-to-day conversations, contractions are used
rather liberally. Therefore, you should consider using
contractions whenever possible because they add to the
conversationality of your broadcast copy. A definite
exception to this rule is the it will contraction itll,
which is awkward when you are trying to read it into a
microphone. Additionally, a contraction should not be
used when you are intending to stress a particular word
Avoid the use of the word not in your copy. Not
can be dropped out of your copy inadvertently and leave
listeners wondering whether they heard not. Note the
DID NOT PAY
There is a danger in using personal pronouns in
broadcast copy. When you use he, she or they,
make certain there can be no doubt in the listeners mind
to whom you are referring. The ear cannot go back and
pick up the identification. Repeat the noun if there may
be any question as to whom you are referring.
Beware of alliterations. When you compose a
sentence consisting of several words beginning with the
same vowels or consonants, you have an alliteration,