I. Different Kinds of Radio Plugs:

a) Short plugs such as:
    ­ - Station ID
    ­ - Programme ID
    ­ - Teaser to announce a segment in a programme (Health advice, news, report, quiz)

b) Longer plugs
    ­ - Public announcements
    ­ - Announcement for a special programme at the radio station or an event
    ­ - Educational announcements (on health, environment, VaW, peace, education

II. Content

a) Objective

You need to know exactly what is your message, what do you want listeners to do or know?

b) Research

Research the topic. Who is your target audience? What form of plug appeals to them?

c) Avoid stereotyping

Many commercial plugs work with simple stereotypes such as strong macho guys, women only care about beauty or teenage girls are only interested in boys etc. women are weak and need protection. Try to avoid such stereotypes because most of them do not correspond to the people they refer to. They are boring and of little creativity. And they do not promote diversity.

III. Format

The necessary information need to be short, clear and catchy. The plug needs to have speed. It should attract listeners attention. It should keep listeners attentive until the end of the plug. It should have an impact on the listeners, so that they remember it. Use remembering effect such as a melody, a voice or a phrase that is easy to remember. Transmit positive message, motivate people, don't depress them, even if the topic is depressive.

You can use dramatization, sound effects, music, live sounds to make your plug attractive to the target audience. If you manage to bring humour into your plug listeners are more likely to remember it.

IV. Script of the plug

The beginning portion establishes context, the middle section delivers the reasons, and the conclusion delivers the call to action, along with any information like addresses and phone numbers etc.

a) Start

Start with something that makes listeners interested so that they pay full attention to the plug. The start must mark a clear distinction from the program of the radio: This is something special! For example start with: ­
- A thrilling music ­
- A laud and/or interesting noise ­
- A question ­
- A secret ­
- A short dramatization ­
- An interesting phrase that makes people want to know more to understand it.

b) Context

Explain in simple words what it is about, talk directly to the listener. Repeat the most important information. Keep the plug lively with music, sound effects, drama etc. You must catch the listener early. The story should be told in the first two or three sentences.

c) Call for action

End with a catchy slogan, a call to action. Remember if people are attracted to the plug the last words is what lasts longest. If the last sentence in an educational plug or a public announcement is a long list of organisations that sponsored the plug, the listeners might forget the message of the plug.

d) Script check­list: ­

e) The pitch

In crafting the plug, you have tools at your disposal: the sound of the announcer's voice, the words you give her or him to speak and the sound effects to create atmosphere, feelings, remembrance. We are drawing acoustic pictures for the target audience. They will spice up our sound with their memories and imagination. Which creates different pictures in each of our listeners fantasy.

f) Presentation of the script

There are different forms of structuring a script. It is important that it contains everything music, where to fade in, where to fade out, characters, who says what, sound effects underlying or interrupting etc. Everyone involved in the production needs to understand what is his or her task: talents and technician. The talents need to get a feeling for the atmosphere that the plug aims to create.

Here an example of simple script table:

Time Source of sound Content/Text Instructions
0 – 3“ Intro of Bayan Barrios Song Alon (CD) Traditional music Fast fade in at 9“ fade out at 11“
4 – 6“ Child asking (Mic) Mama, ano ba ang Peace?  
8 – 11“ Same music Bayan Barrios (CD) Traditional music crationg dreaming athmosphere Fade in at peace at 47“fade to background music at 50“
12 -­ 20“ Nanay (Mic) Anak maganda ang peace. Meron peace kung ... Talking like in a beautiful dream

V. Production

Before you go into the studio for recording everything must be prepared. The music is selected and cued, the sound effects are recorded and available on CD, MD or Cassette. The talents are prepared, you explained to them the objective of the plug, the atmosphere it aims to create and the feelings they should transmit through their voices. They have practised their script. Often the rental for the studio is expensive and we want to have enough time for several recordings if needed.

a) Talents

Almost any one can be a talent as long as you guide your talents well in performing the way you want them to. Some people are more talented or feel less shy to take a certain role. Specially the narrator's voice needs to be clear, warm and seductive, when it comes to the call for action.

Create the atmosphere for your talent, make them feel at ease, do not rush them. Give them time to prepare themselves to feel the role they are supposed to play. Motivate them because you know they can do it. Acting on radio is different from acting on stage or TV. No one can see you. Therefore it must always be very clear who is speaking. If it is not clear from the voice, you must include the identification of the person speaking into the dialogue.

Let your talents hear the music, so they get the pitch of it and can adjust the speed of their speaking.

b) Recording

While recording only the people directly needed should be in the studio. Keep all unnecessary interference out. Let the talents listen to the recordings, so that they can hear what they want to improve and how their voices interact with each other. Never erase what you already recorded. You might need to go back to it later. Or an earlier version might be better than the later ones. You can also track the improvement made during the recording. Sometimes the first recording turns out to be the best one, because it is the most spontaneous and fresh one.

You might also take segments from different recordings and edit them together into the final plug.

c) Editing

While editing you have to take special care to the pitch of the plug and the volume. Breaks are as much part of a plug as the music and the words. The plug should keep speed so that people stay attentive throughout the plug. Have someone external listen to the final version. As you heard the same piece over and over again, another person can give you important hints how to improve it.

Bianca Miglioretto
Radio and Alternative Media Officer
Isis International­Manila
August 2006