Directness characterizes great radio!

Staff Writer

How do you achieve word economy and get a leaner, more muscular, and less encumbered radio show!? Here are six ways:

  • Avoid a false literary style. Be direct. Don’t be too artsy with your words.
  • Cut out long-winded introductions that serve no purpose.
  • Remove empty adjectives and adverbs, redundancies, and all other useless words in your sentence.
  • Get rid of anticipatory constructions, such as “it is,” “there are,” and “there is.”
  • Simplify sentence structure by substituting a word for a phrase or clause, a phrase for a clause, or a simple sentence for a compound or complex sentence.
  • Avoid unnecessary verb-noun combinations.

All studies indicate that radio listeners are time deprived and willing to spend money on products that they trust will save them time.

Some radio jocks believe that wordiness equals eruditeness. For this reason, they sprinkle their presentations with excessive phrases when one word or a few words will do the job. That’s the fear of simplicity!

When your on-air language carries all that extra weight, communication slows down. On the other hand, word economy makes your show leaner, more muscular, and less encumbered. By learning to deliver tighter on-air messages, you’ll please your listeners, save them time, and sound much better.

The best approach to cutting word count without sacrificing content is to drop unnecessary words and phrases.

Consider each word and phrase. Follow this maxim: Don’t use many words when one will do the job. Can you name something with one word instead of two? Can you replace that five-word phrase with two words?

There is an anecdote from the French writer Pascal, who apologized to a friend for writing a long letter. He said, “If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter.” That tells you a lot about how it takes work to get a pure and efficient result with the spoken word.

Everything you say is important!

The most important part of telling a story on-air is knowing what your punchline is and getting to it. You have an assigned amount of time where you can only say so much, so every word should be relevant. Every sentence must serve a purpose.

There are two reasons why the word “economy” is important. One reason is obvious: getting to the punchline more quickly. The additional reason is that it makes the radio host easier to follow. Whatever window of time you have to do your speech, the fewer words you use, the less the audience has to pick out the meat. It establishes that they need to listen because everything you say is important. It is easy to fall into the pitfall of keeping a long-winded setup because you’ve convinced yourself that is just how a speech goes.

Don’t get married to your words

Just stay true to the premise, the very concept that you find funny, fun, or interesting. Then, keep in mind that the setup is merely the information the audience needs to get to the punchline. The longer it takes to get to the punchline, the bigger your payoff should be.

Some radio jocks seem to be under the impression that they would do better in two minutes rather than 25 seconds. I can’t understand this logic. In today’s busy life, no audience is going to stay with you for two minutes of explaining. If you can’t be interesting in 25 seconds, you won’t be interesting in two minutes.

Ornamenting a setup or punchline reduces the funniness of a joke. Brent Forrester (The Simpsons) described this as the Humor and Duration Principle; simply put, it says that the less time you take to get to the joke, the funnier the joke will be. Your goal is to avoid extra words and get to the punchline as soon as possible.

Use one word that carries the main idea rather than multiple words that approximate it.

Word economy dictates that every word must serve a purpose. If a word does not, it must be stricken out.

The old advice, “Say much in little,” should be followed by every jock. What it means is just to say what you want to say — nothing more, nothing less.

The result is a concise delivery. Word economy in radio is not achieved by entirely excluding an idea or deleting words or phrases or sentences. In writing, “economy” instead refers to the relationship between the number of words used and the amount of meaning conveyed.

To conclude:

Word economy makes your show leaner, more muscular, and less encumbered.

Word economy makes you sound much better.

Word economy establishes that the audience needs to listen because everything you say is important.

The longer it takes to get to a punchline, the bigger the payoff should be.About:

About: Sam Zniber

Sam is Strategic Consultant and Vice President of Radio Intelligence, a leader in strategy and research for radio and digital music services.

Sam has a distinguished track record with successes in the US, Canada, Australia, England, Brazil, France, Spain, the UK, and other countries.

Sam Zniber has been a Program Director for several radio stations and networks in the US, the UK, Canada, France, and Australia. He was Vice President of Programming at Lagardère, with 33 million listeners, and Program Director at Magic 102.7 in Miami, at Mix 106.5 in Sydney, and at The Beat 92.5 in Montreal.

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