Broadcasting is a wide profession and it revolves around issues. However, these issues are better treated in different specific program format best fitting for it such that the conversation that evolves from such will be beneficial to the listeners.
This is why different shows presented on Radio have different format and style of presentation. While producing shows for Radio, one of the most important decisions to make is to determine what format is best fitting for the show. Some shows are better produced in a specific format than the other.
So get set and let’s discuss this once and for all. You might want to grab a bottle of drink anyway because this is some ‘about 3,000 worded’ tutorial and trust me it’s worth it!
FORMAT OF RADIO PROGRAMS
This is a program format whereby an interview and the interviewee (s) discuss on a question and answer basis. Interview is a potent format for shows aimed at drilling information from the perspective of the interviewee (s). Variant of interview includes;
- Personality interview
- Fact-finding interview
- Expository interview
- On its own Expository interview could still be informational, interpretive or emotional.
While it is a general principle for Radio show hosts to be smart and intelligent, an interviewer needs an extra energy of being smart, intelligent and most importantly be inquisitive and engaging in nature. He must have listening ears and an open mind. Being open minded is extremely important because interviewees especially on personality interviews more often than not come on the show with an undeclared aura of defense and caressed ego.
The interviewer must then be receptive so that the studio does not into a battle-ground of emotions. He must be persistent but surely know when to stop pushing especially when the interviewee isn’t forthcoming or doesn’t agree with your point of view.
Of course, an interviewer must conduct background research on the personality or topic of discussion. A veteran media personality once said that what he does when he has a celebrity to interview (which falls under personality interviews) is to go to blogs and gist website where there is news on the person and go through the comments. He said this informs the kind of questions he throws at the person. I see that as a smart move anyway because it bridges the gap between the celebrity and the inquisitive fans.
The essence of interviews is to drill out information from the interviewee and it is your responsibility as the interviewer to be a voice to the thousands of people who are listening on the other side of the radio and might not have the chance to ask the person such questions.
If you are interviewing a political personality, I personally recommend going on a fact-gathering mission through interaction with the regional constituents which the person represents or governs. Through such you could discover what promise such politician has made but hasn’t fulfilled; what project he has abandoned and how important the general welfare of his constituent is to him.
This helps to build public trust as people grow faith in your capability to be their voice through which they question their leaders.
Discussion is another powerful format of radio shows. It involves host(s) and guest(s) who come together to share insights on a certain topic. Discussions are always robust especially when the host(s) and guest(s) are prepared for the topic. It is the best format of program to be adopted when there is a need to educate and inform the public on societal happenings.
‘Moments’ is an amazing discussion program on Ebony Life TV with wonderful hosts who understand what is expected of them and delivers same. The combination of hosts on the show as a spin-off of Moments with Mo has been flawless as well. From Michelle Dede, Toke Makinwa and Bolanle Olukanni to the combo of Toke, Bolanle and Tallullah Doherty and then Bolanle, Tallullah and Zimbabwean TV star Vimbai Mutinhiri.
It is noteworthy to mention that there is a difference between a ‘Discussion’ and another program format which is ‘Talk Show’. And the difference lies in the fact that the hosts of a Discussion show are allowed to express their opinion on the topic they are discussing while such is not allowed on a Talk Show.
Now, the general principle is that as the anchor of a program, you are not expected to hold any opinion on air but there is an exception to Discussion shows which is why many media outlets create more of such even when they mix it up with Talk Shows.
Nevertheless, it is expected that all opinions expressed are rested on facts and not mere conjectures or unproven suppositions.
Talk Show is a sister format to Discussion. It follows the same organizational structure of guests and hosts. The difference is just that in this case, the guests are better placed as panelists and the hosts as moderators.
This informs the other difference stated earlier that in a Discussion, the hosts are permitted to voice their opinion on the topic of discussion. Meanwhile in a Talk Show, the hosts are basically there to moderate the flow of the discussion and not to contribute opinions.
Many shows on Radio today are referred to as Talk Shows but they are better described as Discussions because the anchors freely lend their opinion on air.
The restriction on anchors hearing their opinions on air is pretty much important in the interest of performing their roles as presenters to the fullest.
A talk is a short, concise, precise and complete program format. Its peculiarity lies in its duration which should not exceed 5 minutes. This explains why it is also referred to as a 5-minuter format of program. It is more employed in early morning charge, Public Service Announcement (PSA) and Personal Paid Announcement (PPA).
Based in South-West Nigeria, I have noticed that so many indigenous Radio anchors tend towards this program format but they are not justifying its essence. They come on air after choosing a topic and go on and on talking about such topic which is completely unacceptable. Since the general principle says you ain’t expected to lend your opinion freely on air.
They take the format of their program away from being a Talk because a Talk isn’t supposed to be more than 5 minutes. Since they go on air alone with no resource person hence it could not be classified as a Talk Show or a Discussion.
Yet, they drop authoritative comments and opinions. Meanwhile, since the populace acceptance and the commercial value of these programs are very high, nobody cares if it is properly structured.
If you’ve ever thought of hitting home a message on a Radio program which the intent to sensitize, inform, educate, enlighten as much as you want to entertain your listeners, then Radio Drama is for you. It is a complete body of work on its own as a format. It involves a cast and more production crew.
Radio Drama is a wonderful format of program just as it requires extra effort to produce. It requires the descriptive and imaginary articulacy of the producer to create scenes and incidences in the minds of the listeners. Radio Drama thrives on three important elements namely; sound, silence and effect.
The BBC Media Action syndicated Radio Drama ‘Story Story’ is still one of the very few Dramas on Radio that has touched on several societal issues in Nigeria with the interest of correcting the ills.
I will take out time to exclusively explain more on Radio Drama and definitely come back to attach the link here because it is an encompassing and pretty much technical format on its own.
A musical program is any program with music as its theme. It may be a musical talk show, a musical discussion, a musical drama, a musical debate, a musical interview as a matter of fact, a musical magazine program, it just has to have music as its central theme.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that our music industry has blown up to international recognition where the whole world rocks with Afrobeat now, we don’t do much more than playing songs on Radio where in any case, there’s a lot more that can be done. We need to do more than ‘gisting’ about whatever is going on in the lives of these music stars. We evidently do not have enough musical shows on Radio that can discuss issues surrounding the industry.
Of course there are so many issues to be dealt with. Artistes still don’t read their contracts. DJs are still threading the Jimmy Jatt formula of trying to be a recording artiste. There is still no proper structure to make sure that everyone makes money in the industry. Artiste managers are still not doing more than being a booking agent. Record labels are still ordinary talent management companies. Media outlets still don’t pay royalties. Intellectual Property theft is still a big problem. The challenge of music sampling is still there.
These are issues that are crying for solutions. And in any case, the solution could be discovered when we spark discussions around the music industry.
Kudos to Osagie Alonge and the Pulse TV team who gave us Facts Only for good four years anyway. Even though that’s not on Radio but it’s commendable. They did a lot while a lot more can still be done.
A documentary is a program format that seeks to present historical events in the manner, form and peculiarity with which they had happened. It presents actualities with the power of narratives. A documentary is a fact-finding format of program. It takes the listener through a walk on the pages of history or recent happenings. It banks on originality, facts and an apt presentation of incidences or report of situations just the way they are.
Despite its huge importance and consequent influence on social restructuring, documentaries are dying on Radio. This is not because people don’t want to listen to it but because Radio stations cannot afford to carry out assignments on documentaries. Documentaries are expensive to embark on and the narratives also require a great deal of voice over artistry to produce.
Vox Pop & Phone In
I decided to talk about these two formats of programs so as to address the issues surrounding both at once. Vox Pop is an auxiliary program format that seeks inclusivity by going beyond the studio to sample people’s opinion. It is also known as Voice Populi, Voice of the People, Man on the Street
On the other hand, Phone In does the same only that it does so through staying back in the studio. Both are similar in the sense that they generate content and opinions through feedback. And that is an important part of communication.
Vox Pop is mostly done before the program and packaged along with the regular program. Meanwhile, Phone In allows for listeners contribution during a live program.
Now, both are potent and inclusive feedback mechanisms but should be used just as what they are – auxiliary program formats. This implies that they their usage is dependent on another program format.
The reason is this; issues are discussed on Radio with the intent of solving societal problems. Vox Pop and Phone In are based on sampling of a layman’s opinion which might not be accurate enough.
So the practice of coming on Radio, to briefly introduce a topic and opening the Phone line to start discussion with the listeners; then slotting in inserts from Vox Pop does not justify the basic essence of Radio. Yes, they will voice their opinion. But does that in any way proffer solutions to the issues at hand? More often than not, No! Hence, such is practically discouraged.
I am deliberately having this program format come last on this list. Magazine programs are by all standards the most robust of all program formats on Radio. It involves the combination of two or more of any of the formats earlier mentioned.
That is why it is called a magazine program. It is very useful for Radio programs especially on the Early Morning and Late Morning Belt. Because people want to kick-start the day with varieties of voice performances and information in different forms of presentation on Radio.
Most Breakfast Shows are magazine programs with a combination of Interview, Discussion or Talk Show, Documentary and then Vox Pop/Phone In.
As a Radio beginner, you could experiment with any of the program formats. You could prepare your next Audition in any of the formats after having a clear understanding and peculiarity of each. Especially in cases where a particular format is not specified.
Asides News which is another topic we have to discuss pretty soon here, any other program on Radio should ideally be presented in any of the formats mentioned above.
So that’s it, start creating amazing broadcast content now. And don’t forget to drop a comment below telling me which of the program formats above you’d prefer the most.
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