A Radio Pep Talk

So I’m working on a blog post of educational resources for making produced radio pieces. But in putting it together, I noticed that they mostly focus on the nitty gritty work of it. It can be easy to walk away thinking, “Jeezum, that can’t be worth it.”

Please please PLEASE don’t let the descriptions of endless edits discourage you. Even though it can be tough at times, there is so much that is exciting, fun, and fulfilling. You have an incredible opportunity to go into other people’s worlds, find anything interesting, funny, or important, and follow your curiosity as far as you want. People will tell you incredible things, just because you have a microphone and seem interested.

That’s Part 1.

What most of the resources are talking about is Part 2. The part where you take this incredible bundle of things you’ve learned, experiences that you or your subjects have had, and try to communicate them clearly and engagingly to your listeners. If you want to do this as well as, say, This American Life does, then it may well take years of practice. It’s a ton of work for each piece.

Just remember that no matter how eventually sounds, you still got to do Part 1. And you probably learned some things that will make Part 2 easier next time. That makes even the most muddled, amateurish pieces totally worth it.

Here’s my suggestion: Put as much work in on Part 2 as you can while still remaining enthusiastic. Your enthusiasm is your fuel. If you are super excited about your piece, then you’ll want to put in more work to communicate better with your audience. Each extra edit makes it that much better.

But for all that is holy, if you get to the point where you completely dread working on your piece, set it aside. Go take a walk. Listen to a podcast for inspiration. Do anything you need to recharge your enthusiasm.  Come back to your piece when you’ve had some space. You’ll see what you liked about it in the first place, and know what to do to make it better.

And remember that we’re all in this radio-making game together. When you’re getting frustrated on a piece, have a friend or someone at the station listen to it. We can see what a piece needs much clearer when we haven’t been immersed in making it. It can be nerve wracking to get honest feedback, but no one is judging you. No one’s pieces are very good for the first 90% of the process, even the professionals’.

We want WBTV-LP to be a big radio sandbox for you to play in. Get out there with your recorder and explore the world. Experiment. Have a ball. Make weird pieces that only you can make. Work towards professional quality, but remember to keep yourself excited.

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