3 Lessons I Learned Doing Radio News

Mondays at 6 p.m. UTC is news time at Smoke Radio’s studio at the University of Westminster. Mariya and I present the news bulletin with the top stories of the day each week. I had never produced a radio show before, let alone been inside a radio studio. As a wanna-be journalist, I thought I would give radio news a shot. At the beginning of the year, the Smoke Radio staff taught us how to use the equipment, but learning about it and actually doing it are two different things. Here are a few things I figured out about working in a radio studio:

The mixing board is easier than it looks

Sliders, switches, knobs, lights, and a Twitter feed—how can you keep track of it all? At first, the mixing board looked waaay too complicated for a first timer to manage. It’s especially daunting when you realize the studio manager isn’t there to help you five minutes before you air. After asking students from the adjacent room to give us some tips, Mariya and I just winged it. We programmed a break into the system, pushed sliders up, and twisted some knobs. Before we knew it, we produced the news show on our own.

Read everything aloud

If it looks great on paper, it doesn’t mean it sounds great on the radio. Writing for the blog or a newspaper is different from writing for TV or radio. When I first read the news I realized that I was using phrases that were too long and didn’t sound right—they either had too many syllables or were difficult to say aloud. I ended up taking breaths mid-sentence. After the first day, I shortened each story and adjusted my phrasing for speech.

Put some attitude into it

We all know how dull it is to listen to a monotone voice. It’s the same with reading the news. You have to choose an appropriate tone when reading each news story. Often the breaking news story is tragic, so I have to speak in a serious voice and add a hopeful ending. When I talked about Miley Cyrus and her MTV European Awards acceptance, I spoke in a fun tone, ending the story with, “You know what they say: She’s just being Miley.” Changing up your tone makes the news more interesting.

When you’re at Arcadia, try something new. Whether it’s studying abroad, attending a theater show, taking an art course, rock climbing, or doing a radio show, if you have ever had a tiniest interest in something, go do it. I never thought I would enjoy doing the radio, but next semester when I return to the Glenside campus, I hope to get involved in news feature shows and join Arc radio.