Writing Great Radio or The Tools of the Trade

Staff Writer

One of the things I love about our business is that we get to constantly create and engage with our listeners on a daily basis. This is not just through the music but also in the way we craft our stations. 

Getting the music right is one thing, and in some ways I ‘ve always thought that’s been relatively easy, but building a station’s persona requires a special talent.

Great production starts with great copy. The message we send through our imaging is ‘don’t leave us’ – we want our listeners to stay all day, right?

I know some jocks think listeners are waiting breathlessly for their next bit, but – really?

Recently I went through my collection of some of the best commercials I have ever heard on the air. Bud Light – Real Men of Genius was top of the list. When those ads first appeared I collected them, put them all on a CD and drove around listening to them. Driving around listening just to commercials – tell that to your sales manager!


It’s true, but they were so engaging and entertaining that I imagine when they originally ran listeners were glued to the station. These were commercials that weren’t a turn-off.

It’s the same with a radio station’s own image spots. We sell the invisible. This is the power of radio.

All we have are words and sounds – these are the tools of our trade. And how cool is that!

When writing image promos for radio stations, for me the Bud Light spots are the benchmark. These ads grab our attention and they hold it. They tell a story through the images they create that work to connect to listeners – to ourselves.

A positioning line alone does not make a brand. We know listeners need strong emotion. Our station brand is bigger than the sum of its parts.

We should always aim to create radio magic in the production studio. I’ve spent hours writing image promos, only to be ‘de-flowered’ by the Production Director many times for being considered over the top. But that’s when teamwork comes into play – reworking a script again and again until you strike the right note.

Next time you sit down to write a promo or a commercial think about being colourful and delightful. Tell a story. As the guy behind the curtain we can be just like the Wizard of Oz.



Brad McNally:
He’s a Canadian guy, who’s worked all over… Canada. Made a jump to Europe as Group PD for Scandinavia Broadcasters based in Stockholm.

Here in Australia, he was the former 96fm Perth PD. Brad’s now doing some Consulting and lots if what he loves, running.







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