Books for better broadcasting

When it comes to books to help you find your way as a station manager or broadcaster, the field is wide open. However, there are two or three I have come to rely on.

Top of the pile for me is Essential Radio Skills by Peter Stewart (there are two editions and the 2009 first edition will likely be cheaper than the 2010 update). I got a lot of good information from this book.

It covers everything from how to present a radio show, to understanding music scheduling, avoiding DJ clichés, and – in short – how to be professional on air.

Although small incidental elements of the book are slightly out of date due to it being written in 2010, I highly recommend it as the vast bulk (99%) of the book offers solid and timeless information (I wish it had been around when I started out).

If you are serious about investing in yourself as a broadcaster then Essential Radio Skills is a ‘must-have’ book.

However, the first book I bought for a bit of self-help was Valerie Gellers’ Beyond Powerful Radio – A Communicator’s Guide to the Internet Age.

This is quite a hefty tomb, and while of general interest to me, much of what it has to offer is for those actually working at a radio station, managing staff, or hosting talk shows and phone-in programmes. It’s not really for music presenters, but worth a read in any case.

Still, I found it interesting, useful, and refer to it regularly. If you are more into station management and talk-radio (than music) then it is highly recommended.

Commercial copywriting and production is a good skill to have, but you are unlikely to find a course covering this. You could learn by listening to what your local station produces for clients, but if you want to understand what makes a radio commercial work then one book comes to mind: Production & Copywriting in Christian Radio by Tom Terry.

Now if you are not a Christian radio station don’t worry – the book barely touches on religious broadcasting.

Writing the script for a radio commercial seems an easy thing to do. Mention the name of the company, the thing they want to promote, add a catchphrase or slogan, and end with contact details – job done.

But like anything in radio, it’s all about the connection. Having the listener hear what’s being offered and then acting on the advert in a positive way by calling the advertiser to place an order.

As a radio commercial copywriter, you might need to decide if: The advert should be a hard sell or a soft sell? Should it be voiced by a man, woman or child? Will it need music? If so, what type of music? Sound effects as well? Maybe…

It all depends on what you’re selling, who you are selling it to, and how long you have – 15 seconds, 30, 45, or a full minute.

Tom Terry’s book covers it all and more in great detail and in a short read (52 pages). Well worth picking up and referring to whenever you need to produce a commercial or promotional spot.

Search for Production & Copywriting in Christian Radio by Tom Terry at The Book Depository.

Before you splash out loads of cash, ask around to see if your friends and colleagues have any of these books to borrow, check out your library, and used book sellers.

And if you have a favourite book about broadcasting to recommend then do let me know…

Book links are affiliate links.

Steve Hart

Steve Hart

Steve Hart is a journalist and editor based in Melbourne.

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