Lessons from the Radio

Practical Tips

This is a collection of lessons I took from my one week in Public Radio. Feel free to use them as a reminder for yourself or to get started.

Getting quotes and sound bites:

  • red riding radio reporter

    red riding radio reporter

    Getting there by bike is ultimately more fun (especially when it rains, but that’s just me)

  • Test the level of your mike (pitching is bad, but worse is if your sound is too weak)
  • Check your batteries and have replacements! Seriously. Do it! Just DO IT!
  • Take three minutes before recording anything and think about your story line / concept. Once you have something in mind, you will roughly know what kind of quotes you are looking for.
  • A good journalist does not collect more sound bites than he needs.

Creating the story:

  • Always write the text for the host first (it does make things easier)
  • CREATE AN IMAGE…just by words and sound. It’s essential for listeners to understand the story.
  • Get the sound bites right first, then build your text around it.


  • Don’t ever run to the studio. It’s better to be late than to die in front of the mic.
  • If you are in a hurry, don’t take the elevator, it might get stuck.
  • Make sure to put enough pressure into your voice and articulate well.
  • Try to reduce smacking noises.
  • Don’t just read from colon to colon. Read lively, as if you explain something to your grandmother.
  • Make sure you use breaks to breathe.

Anouncements (Meldung): 3-4 lines, the lead sentence is the most important
Aufsager (recitation): 2 sentences for the host + 40 seconds for you
Pieces: 4-5 sentences for the host, 2:30 for you, usually 4-5 sound bites.
“Nachrichtenminute”: about 40 seconds. 20 seconds of text + 20 seconds sound bite.

In due time, I’ll post the audios I produced, too 🙂

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