Anyone Done Radio Copywriting?

15 replies
Hey Fellow Copywriters,

I was wondering if anyone has written any radio copy before. If so, I'd love to ask you a few questions.

Thanks,

Mike
#copywriting #radio
  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    I've done some. In the 90s I created a campaign around a character I invented and actually went into the station and recorded the spots with their producer. They were humor-based. The character was a crusty old gal named Virginia, from West Virginia. She chewed tobacco, spit and had a weird sense of humor.

    Years before I worked with this gal and got good at impersonating her. She was a real pistol. I pretty much adlibbed the stuff in the studio while getting in the important details for the spot. I used an index card cheat sheet for the details. Virginia was apt to say almost anything and that's what made the ads so popular.

    The spots were for a travel agency. They tripled his business. It was a small market and people started booking with him hoping Virginia was actually going to show up on some of the group trips. There was a lot of buzz about the commercials in the area for a while. The identity of Virginia remained a secret.

    I've written some straight stuff for radio as well but none of it went over like Virginia. The approach with radio is pretty much the same as print. The difference is you’ve only got 30 or 60 seconds to put it over. Knowing your target audience is essential. My approach was to hit them with the hook right away with a grabber statement, the equivalent of your headline in copy.
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  • Profile picture of the author briancassingena
    Ask away mate, I've done a little bit of radio, what do you want to know?
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    • Profile picture of the author Mark Andrews
      Banned
      Many, many years ago yes. But for sure others here will have more experience than I in this area.

      Brian McLeod? Didn't he have a lot of experience in this niche? Correct me if I'm wrong.
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  • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
    Banned
    I was the senior copywriter for Australia's #1 FM station - 20 years ago.
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    • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
      Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

      I was the senior copywriter for Australia's #1 FM station - 20 years ago.
      This does not surprise me at all, Mal.

      Did you ever voice any of 'em?

      B
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      • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
        Banned
        Originally Posted by BrianMcLeod View Post

        This does not surprise me at all, Mal.

        Did you ever voice any of 'em?

        B
        Yep. Only "character" reads. Did a lot of gag-writing for jocks too. Also had a breakfast program for awhile - "In your face for breakfast".

        I'll share a story. When the station I worked for was sold...the owner assembled the entire staff in the board-room to make the announcement...pulled out a chain-saw...said "This is the end of an era" and sawed the very expensive board-room table in half.

        I went from that one to a brand-new FM station. In its first week of operation I wrote and produced twenty two 30-second spots in one day. They were good too. One of the guys from that session went on to become the "Voicecover talent of the year".

        The story is worth telling - he was a salesman who fancied being a Voiceover guy. He had a home-made Demo tape and arrived unannounced at Reception. The receptionist buzzed me and asked if I had time to see him. I didn't but asked him to leave his tape. He rings the next day. I hadn't listened to it. Then he rings a few days later. I still hadn't listened to it. But promised I would if he gave me a week. He rings back in a week. Was starting to be a bit pushy and annoying. So to get rid of him I say "I'll listen to it now...ring back in ten minutes". I played his tape and it blew me away. The guy was amazing - could do any voice. When he rang back I said "I have a gig for you - how soon can you get here?"

        We put down half-a-dozen spots that afternoon - 6 versions of each - 36 scripts. And he earned himself $1200 and entrée to a career in Voiceover for radio, film and television. That's what persistence does.

        I still talk to him. Whenever I ring I never know who's going to answer the phone - John Cleese, Homer Simpson, Sir Winston Churchill, Dudley Moore as Arthur.

        Radio is great training for copywriters. Teaches you to grab your listener by the throat in 3 seconds.
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        • Profile picture of the author max5ty
          Originally Posted by The Copy Nazi View Post

          Radio is great training for copywriters. Teaches you to grab your listener by the throat in 3 seconds.
          Very interesting story.

          Sounds to me like you've got a best selling book idea there - would be interesting to read.

          You make good videos also, I like the one on your site - good work.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bruce NewMedia
    It's interesting, seems many did radio ads in the past, but not currently. (me, as well)...

    Anyway, I did radio ads around 2000 - 2001. Did quite a few, and I found that 'dialogues' between characters (with distinctive voices) proved most effective. So, I'd have 'Bill Overpayer' who always overpays for tires, talking to his friend, "Gary GoodDeal" about solutions to his tire needs, etc. Corny? Oh yeh, but if run in a steady rotation it was effective. ...I don't know if that helps any Mike, but it's what i can recall without my coffee. :-)
    _____
    Bruce
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    • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
      Originally Posted by brucerby View Post

      Did quite a few, and I found that 'dialogues' between characters (with distinctive voices) proved most effective. So, I'd have 'Bill Overpayer' who always overpays for tires, talking to his friend, "Gary GoodDeal" about solutions to his tire needs, etc. Corny? Oh yeh, but if run in a steady rotation it was effective
      +1 for character driven spots.

      My experience exactly, Bruce.

      Also, jingles for fairly boring markets like hair replacement, etc.

      B
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  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    Originally Posted by MikeHumphreys View Post

    Hey Fellow Copywriters,

    I was wondering if anyone has written any radio copy before. If so, I'd love to ask you a few questions.

    Thanks,

    Mike
    Hey Mike...

    It's been a long while, but I've written a bunch of DRTV and Radio spots.

    Give me a ring.

    B
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  • Profile picture of the author Jay White
    Started out that way. Radio to catalogs to TV to web to freelance.
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    Copywriters! Want to Get More Clients and Make More Money? FREE Webinar: www.GetCopywritingClients.com
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  • Profile picture of the author peewhy
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    • Profile picture of the author DaveHughes
      I've been doing radio professionally for over 20 years (it'll be 25 this March), and still do it.

      Heck, I'm typing this on the production machine in the studio during a commercial break on my morning show. :rolleyes:

      If I had to estimate, I would say I've written tens of thousands of pieces of radio copy, and produced around half that many. And Nazi hit it on the head...

      ...with radio, you don't get to write two thousand words' worth of copy; a thirty second ad is roughly eight typewritten lines.

      Double-spaced.

      Show the benefits, give a feature or two if possible, present your call to action...eight lines. Of course, if I had a nickel for everyone in radio that thinks they know how to write a spot I'd be rich.

      I used to enter the various awards contests (was a runner-up in the Radio & Production Magazine International awards one year), but stopped years ago, when I realized that all awards competitions reward exactly the wrong things.

      I'll be glad to chat with you about it if you want, Mike.
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      • It must run in the gene pool. Like my brother Dave (above) whom I have never met, I'm an award winning radio copy writer, producer, and voice over talent. One of the biggest awards you can win is the Mercury Award (which does recognize the right stuff) and I've won that. Even more important, my clients make money off my stuff - so much so that some of them have been working with me for years.

        How can I help?
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      • Profile picture of the author The Copy Nazi
        Banned
        Originally Posted by DaveHughes View Post


        ...with radio, you don't get to write two thousand words' worth of copy; a thirty second ad is roughly eight typewritten lines.

        Double-spaced.

        Show the benefits, give a feature or two if possible, present your call to action...eight lines.
        Let's see shall we? Here's an old spot of mine - from a successful campaign that ran for years. The client was a common-or-garden-variety Pub. No U.S.P. so I made the Publican - a popular man-about-town - the hero. I dubbed him "The Cold Man".

        “Shane O'Connor's a cold man.


        Why is he a cold man? Because he sells the coldest beer in Queensland.


        The "Bottlo" beer you buy at The Anglers Arms, Queen Street, Southport is kept at a constantly-monitored temperature just over freezing point.


        So by the time you get it home it’s perfect to drink.

        Anglers Takeaway Beer – probably the Coldest Beer in Captivity.


        Brought to you by that cold man – Shane O'Connor.

        The Stranglers Arms. Queen Street Southport.

        (See what I did with the last line? "The Stranglers Arms" was the local nick-name for the pub. We copped a few complaints from "offended" people over that.)

        Oh yeah - "The Cold Man" became the Publican's new nickname. Even years after that campaign stopped he was getting mail addressed to "The Cold Man...The Anglers Arms, Southport"

        * "Bottlo" is Australian slang for "bottle shop"
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