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  • Writer's pictureDrake Donovan

What Does It Mean To Be Authentic In Radio Imaging?

Authenticity. I heard this word thrown around at last year’s Conclave 43 conference. Advice from programmers to air talent was to “be authentic” in their breaks and at remote broadcasts. The social media folks encouraged authenticity in engaging with listeners online. So, what does it mean to be authentic?

In my mind, being authentic means to come from a real place. Everything I do in radio imaging has a shade of truth to it. After all, isn’t everything we do in radio supposed to be an exaggerated form of reality. Our personas, our brands, our images…these should all be somewhat larger than life, yet still reflect it.

When it comes to writing for radio, I always sit back and think about what the listener might be experiencing in that moment, that season. What’s their daily routine? How is it affected by the real world: current events, the weather, etc.? Take that authentic experience and turn it on its ear. Boost it ever so slightly, but don’t lose the authentic roots of where it came from.

For example, we did a promo for an overnight stay in Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World. The idea was a real estate agent giving a tour of the castle while it was being renovated to accommodate guests and telling the entire history of the castle. She relates that it originally belonged to Cinderella’s father and after his death there was a lengthy legal battle between Cindy & her step-mother and ugly step-sisters to determine who should inherit the property. Add to that, an atmosphere of construction noises during the tour and a nod to the contracting company run by the seven dwarves that was performing the work. Fairytale characters rooted in a real-world situation that anyone could identify with.

So, think about being more real in your writing. For sweepers, what are the real-world benefits of your station’s position statement? How does the station or format fit into your listeners’ lifestyles? For contest and event promos, portray a scenario on how can winning a contest or visiting a remote location improve that listener’s life, even in the short term?

For authenticity in production, swap out lasers, swooshes and zaps for real world sounds. Record various smart phone effects, like text typing, alerts and ring tones. Replace drones for the sounds of interior ambiance of workplaces, retail locations and automobiles (both running and not). Reflect the world that we all live in to drive home realism.

Consider all of those things while relating to person, place and/or time and you’ll find that authenticity that everyone’s been talking about.

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