Audio for Radio
by Ellen Ratner and Kathie
Since the advent of the
computer age, radio shows have had very little use for actuality
lines—those telephone set-ups that let media people access quotes or
other sound for newscasts or talk shows. Although some stations are still not
computer savvy, most are capable of using MP3 files, which are best for
sound-only clips. You can add these audio files to your Web page and email them
to broadcasters. Give them what they need in the way they can receive it.
Robert Stone, former Hill and
Knowlton executive, says a one-minute script can result in hundreds of
placements, given the fact that there are more than 10,000 radio stations
burning up music and words at the rate of 6,000 words an hour.
“Sometimes it’s easier to get on
local radio because there has been a decline in local news due to a media
consolidation of radio news,” says Maria Leavey of January Communications.
“Make your audio local, and you will have a better chance of having a station
use it.” She recommends making sure you know what the hot issue is in a
program’s city and/or state and developing your message to address that issue,
as well as finding out what type of audio the program uses and wants.
In the olden days of actualities,
audio contributions were kept short because editing was time consuming and
difficult. Now, with programs such as Adobe Audition, editing digital audio is
affordable, fast, and easy. The decision you need to make is whether to present
short sound bites (10 to 20 seconds) and risk not getting your entire message
out, or to offer longer audio clips, which might be edited. Stations that do
not have the staff to reedit audio are likely to use the shorter sound bites,
but you can upload an entire presentation to your Web site, plus a transcript
if you have one.
· Make sure the quality of the sound
you provide is consistent and good. If you put out bad sound, producers, hosts,
and Webmasters will be hesitant to listen again.
· Listening takes time. If the audio
is questionable or muffled, provide a transcript. For longer pieces, if you do
not have an exact transcript, provide a description of where specific quotes
can be found.
· Be certain that what you are
offering has news value; don’t cry wolf. When a news organization sees your
material, you want it to use your audio. If the audio is boring or old news, it
won’t be used, and you may not get a second opportunity.
· If you have an event scheduled,
find out from the news organizations what about it might interest them. They
may tell you exactly what they want—“We are looking for a reaction to . .
.” If you can deliver, it will ensure placement.
· Fax, email, and phone the news
organization once you have your audio. Tell them what you have and be willing
to edit to provide what they need.
· Along with any audio you send,
note the total time it takes.
· If you or your author speak
another language, such as Spanish, consider sending a translation or the
primary audio in that language.
For stations that still do not use
an MP3 format, email the actualities in WAV format, and send each one twice so
the sound levels can be adjusted.
Some stations may be technically
unable to use an actuality sent as an attachment, so you’ll need to set up a
toll-free number with a recording of the actuality. In your email, include
instructions for retrieving the actuality that say something like the
actuality is available by calling: 800-XXX-XXXX, then dialing code X, then:
1—Back up 5 seconds
2—Replay the message
3—Pause and press Play to continue
4—Advance 5 seconds
5—Forward to end of message
You can also make video available
on your Web site. Technically it is still somewhat difficult to get
broadcast-quality video from a Web site. But the upside of providing Web-based
video is that broadcasters can add your video to their Web sites, some of which
have almost as much traffic as their broadcasts.
The bottom line is to provide
audio and video that are easy to access, download, or downlink. The burden is
on you to provide it. Take the pressure off the media.
Ellen Ratner, the bureau
chief of Talk Radio News Service, is the political editor and Washington bureau
chief of Talkers
magazine (the trade magazine for the talk media industry) and an analyst on Fox
News. Kathie Scarrah is an independent television news producer. This article
is derived from their new Chelsea Green book, <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Ready, Set, Talk! A Guide to Getting Your Message
Heard by Millions on Talk Radio, Talk Television, and Talk Internet.
To learn more or order the book, visit www.chelseagreen.com.