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Script 98.5

Script

What this guide covers:
1. Introduction
2. Definitions
3. Promos
• Purpose and audience
• The three elements of a promo
• Generic program promos
• Specific episode promos
• Promo placement
• Authenticity
4. Intros
• Episode intros
• Item intros
5. Extros
6. In conclusion

1. Introduction

You work hard to produce a weekly farmer program that serves your farmer/listeners well. But do you work hard enough to increase the number of farmers who listen?

You can grow your audience by creating promos and broadcasting them throughout your station’s weekly schedule. This will catch listeners who don’t yet listen to your program. And it will also remind your regular listeners to tune in to the next show. Once you attract listeners to your show, well-crafted intros and extros will help keep them there.

2. Definitions

“Promos” are brief messages that build your audience and encourage listeners to tune in to your farmer program. (Your station might also use the word “promo” for any activity that promotes the station, such as a contest offering tee-shirts to callers who can name the station’s frequency. However this guide focuses on promos that promote your farmer program.)

An “intro” is the message you broadcast at the beginning of an episode, or at the beginning of an item within an episode. It encourages listeners to stay tuned and it prepares them to listen to the episode or item.

An “extro” is the message you broadcast at the end of an episode or item. It consolidates important learnings and emotions, and sometimes tells listeners where they can learn more about a topic.

An “episode” is one radio program that is a part of a radio program series.

An “item” is a single element within an episode. It could be an interview, a mini-drama, a panel discussion, a phone-in, a market report, or something else.

3. Promos: Purpose and audience

To write a promo, you need to know:
– what you are trying to do in your program or item (the purpose), and
– who is the typical farmer you want to reach (the audience).

First, think about the purpose of your farmer program. If you have a formal purpose statement, that is where to start.

Example of farmer program purpose statement:
“Farming Today” provides farmers with timely information on important farming topics and engages farmers in discussing those matters.”

If you don’t yet have a formal purpose statement, try to define what your program tries to achieve and what it offers your listeners.

Then think of your target listener. This could be a 40-year-old woman or man who has a family and who grows maize and tomatoes. If your target listeners are older farmers, make sure you use language that is appropriate for them. Avoid the slang that is attractive to teen-agers – unless you are producing a program for young farmers!

Knowing your purpose and your audience will help you write promos that work.

The three elements of a promo

Every promo should include three elements: information, emotion, and invitation.

Information: Potential listeners can’t listen if they don’t know when to tune in. A promo for a regular farmer program must:
– name the program;
– tell the listener the day and time it is broadcast (and perhaps the day and time of the regular repeat broadcast); and
– describe what the program is about.

Emotion: It is not enough to provide information in a promo. Information appeals to the listener’s “head” but it does not appeal to the “heart.” And it is much more powerful to appeal to the heart. Make sure that your promo gives your listener an emotional reason to tune in. The promo should answer the listener’s question, “Why should I care?” Emotion can be provided in a number of ways:
– Music – Music appeals to our emotional side even before our mind kicks in and listens to words. Use music that provides an appropriate “soundbed” for the spoken message.
– Affect -Tell your listeners how your program can affect them. People’s ears prick up when they hear something that might make their own life harder or easier.
– Personality – People respond to people. Listeners want to feel that they have a relationship with the people who present the program. Also, if you know a public figure who is well-liked by your listeners, ask them to do a generic promo for your program (see example #3 below).

Invitation: Respect your potential listeners. Invite and encourage them to listen. And at the end, thank them for having listened.

Generic program promos

Start by writing a generic promo for your farmer program. A generic promo is one that promotes your program in general terms. Generic promos provide the big picture about your program, and they can be run any time, and day, any week.

Example of generic farmer program promo #1
Sig tune up and then fade under
“Hello, I’m Simon Akwe, host of Farming Today on Energy 101 FM in Abuja. We talk about everything that helps you farm better – and then we get you to talk about it too! Please join us – every Tuesday at noon.”
Sig tune fades up and out

Example generic farmer program promo #2
Start montage of very brief clips from expert interviews and farmer phone-ins, then fade out
“Hi, this is Susan Majumba from Farming Today on Energy 101 FM in Abuja. Every week we bring you the most important voices on farming. Please join us at noon on Tuesdays – and add your voice!
Fade montage up and then out

Example generic celebrity farmer program promo #3
Fade up tune by a singer who is respected by farmers, then fade under
“Hello, I am Seko Coulibaly. Being a musician has its challenges and its joys. Just like farming! Tune in to Farming Today on Energy 101 FM every Tuesday at noon, and learn how to farm better!”
Sound of musician practising
Voice of musician speaking to himself over music “Now, how does that new chord work here …?”
Singer tune fades up and out

Specific episode promos

Generic promos are fine, but they are not the most powerful way to promote your program. The best way is to create a specific promo for every episode.

A specific episode promo promotes the next episode by revealing something interesting that will be featured in the next episode.

Produce a specific promo for each episode of your program. This will give new listeners a reason to tune in this week. And it will remind your regular listeners about the exciting things happening on your farmer program, and why they should continue to tune in.

A specific episode promo follows the same guidelines as a generic one regarding information, emotion and invitation.

Example specific episode promo #1
Start sig tune, then fade under presenter
“Hi, I’m Maria Zomba. Have you ever wondered why some of your friends get government fertilizer and you don’t? Tune in to Farming Today this week. We explore how you can get on the list. Listen next Tuesday at noon, right here on Energy 101 FM in Arusha.”
Fade up sig tune, then fade out

Example specific episode promo #2 (with lots of emotion)
Start sig tune, then fade under presenter
“Hi, I’m Maria Zomba. Would you sit and watch your child die of malnutrition when there is life-saving food close by? Tune in to Farming Today this week, and learn about a miracle food that is already in your house! Listen Tuesday at noon, right here on Energy 101 FM in Arusha.”
Fade up sig tune, then fade out

Formality and informality

When your program is new, or the host is new, it makes sense to start a promo with an introduction like “Hello, I’m Maria Zomba” or “Good afternoon, dear listeners.” Older listeners in particular like this approach. However, once your program and host are well established, you can make a specific episode promo or intro even more powerful by going right to the heart of the matter, without introducing your host or greeting your listeners. Do what works best for your listeners.

Example specific episode promo #2 without host ID or listener salutation
Start sig tune, then fade under presenter
“Would you sit and watch your child die of malnutrition when there is life-saving food close-by? Tune in to Farming Today this week, and learn about a miracle food that is already in your house! Listen Tuesday at noon, right here on Energy 101 FM in Arusha.”
Fade up sig tune, then fade out

The specific episode promo can run for the whole week before the episode is broadcast. And then on the day of the broadcast, you can run two more promotional activities − especially if you have a great program lined up. First, you can alter the specific promo and emphasize that today is the day.

Example specific episode promo for the day of broadcast
Start sig tune, then fade under presenter
“Have you ever wondered why some of your friends get government fertilizer and you don’t? Tune in to Farming Today today. We explore how you can get on the list. Listen today at noon, right here on Energy 101 FM in Arusha.”
Fade up sig tune, then fade out

Host interview promo

The other promotional activity you can broadcast on or right before your broadcast date is to have your host interviewed on air by the host of another major program. For this to happen, you will need a cooperative culture within the station, and you must be willing to interview the hosts of other programs in return!

Balancing the light and the serious

If you have done a lot of research on a serious topic such as polluted water, you will want your episode promo to feature that topic. However, your farmer program includes both light and serious topics, and so some of your specific episode promos should reflect this range.

Example specific episode promo – light or humorous topic
Start sig tune, then fade under presenter
“A farmer near Gulu has been trying to breed his cow for months, but the cow is only interested in a gentleman goat! Tune in to Farming Today on Tuesday. We will talk to the frustrated farmer. That’s noon on Tuesday, right here on Energy 101 FM in Arusha.”
Fade up sig tune, then fade out

Authenticity

Whatever you promise in your promo, you must deliver in the program. You can lose listeners’ trust if you get them listening because of exciting promos, but your programming does not stand up to the promise of the promo. Promos can be enthusiastic and stimulating, but they must also be authentic reflections of the program they promote. When a person hears a promo, he or she should be hearing something that has the sound and pacing and values of the program itself.

Placement

Now that you have created excellent promos for your farmer show, make sure they are used to good effect. You want them to be heard by everyone who listens to your radio station who might be interested in your farmer program. For this, your promos need to be inserted into your station’s program schedule in the right places and with the right frequency.

You will need the help of your station manager. Impress upon your manager that a promo encourages listeners to listen to more of what the station has to offer. And that it shows some of the depth and breadth of radio programming that your station offers.

Go through the whole seven-day program schedule with your manager and identify all the station breaks and look at the programs on either side of them. Ask for a promo slot right before, or right after, each program that might have a farmer audience. Good examples of such programs are: women’s programs, cooking programs, other farm-related programs (animals, veterinary, crops, forestry, trees, fishing, weather, land use, newscasts).

Make sure that your promo runs once or twice on the day of your weekly broadcast, before your program goes to air. That will be a great reminder for listeners to stay tuned.

In addition, ask your manager to schedule your farmer program promos at other, random places throughout the station program schedule. You never know where you might find people who will be interested in your program, and you can never get too much promotion! Your specific episode promo should run ten to twenty times in the week before the episode is broadcast.

Also, find out from the manager exactly how you must deliver your promo so that it is scheduled and broadcast in the appropriate breaks. Later, listen to the station at each time that your promo is scheduled, and confirm that it ran. If not, go back to your manager and sort this out.

4. Intros

Intros are much like promos, but different. They don’t need to draw listeners to the program. The listeners are already there! There are two kinds of intros: episode intros and item intros.

Episode intros

The job of an episode intro is to welcome the listeners, make them feel “at home” and give them a reason to stay tuned in. It should answer the question: “Why should I continue to listen to this program instead of tuning to the other station that is playing my favourite music!”

At the beginning of your farmer program, play a sig tune (i.e., a program theme tune or signature tune) or some other emotion-evoking material that will remind your listeners that their favourite program is about to start. Then present a prepared intro that promotes the most interesting and the most important items in the episode. It might also mention other regular features such as market prices and weather.

Use the episode intro to prepare your listeners for what is coming. Is there a phone-in today and do they have their cell phone handy to call in? Do they need to alert their spouse or their friends to listen? Do they need a paper and pencil to write down detailed instructions?

As with promos, intros need information, emotion, and invitation.

Example episode intro
Sig tune
SFX: sound of animals and grumbling herders
“Good afternoon dear listeners, and welcome to another episode of Farming Today. Cattle prices are very low right now. Should you sell yours, or hold on and hope the price will rise? In a few minutes we will talk to a market expert, and he will take your calls. But first, do neem trees leaves really protect your bagged maize from weevils? We visit a farmer who has had mixed results. That is all coming up on Farming Today, right now. But first, here is James with today’s commodity prices at the Gulu market.”

Item intros

By now you have attracted listeners to this episode. What is the role of an item intro? The host should provide any details that will help the listener understand the item. The host will also introduce the participants – the interviewers and speakers. If it is a phone-in, the host will prepare the listener to make the call, and to understand the question posed by the phone-in. If it is a long interview, the host should mention something important that is featured in the interview, so the listeners will consider it worthwhile to stay tuned in.

Example item intro
SFX: braying cattle
“Well, those cattle at the Gulu market last week did not make their owners rich! In fact, the price of cattle has dropped each week for the past ten weeks. What is a farmer to do? Do you sell now and get today’s price, or hold on and hope for a better price later? But what if the price keeps dropping? In the studio with me today is Michael Rostand, who has been following the ups and downs of the cattle market for seven years as a professor at Gulu Agricultural College. Michael will explain the main forces that influence price, and then he will take your calls. So make sure you have airtime on your mobile because we want to hear from you.”

5. Extros

An extro helps listeners consolidate what they have learned and felt from an episode or an item. It runs at the end of the episode or the item. Since your program is about farming, and since farming can be complex, a good extro repeats the main points made, and says where the farmer can get more information. If the item has been very emotional, the host might want to talk in a way that helps listeners deal with their emotions. However, one of the best extros following an emotional item is to play suitable, thoughtful music that will allow listeners to manage their emotions in a private way.

Example item extro
“Thank you to Mary Kato and Olivia Banda for coming in to our studio today and helping us understand how to interplant corn and beans. Remember that rows should be one metre apart, and the plants should be thirty centimetres apart. Use a taut string to mark the row, and then poke holes every thirty centimetres, drop in three seeds, then fill each hole. More information is available from your extension worker and from most women’s clubs in your area.”

Remember: It is never too early to promote!

The first opportunity you have to promote your next episode is in your current episode. If you know enough about one item in next week’s show, promote it at the end of the current episode. And don’t forget to promote the repeat broadcast of this episode.

Example next week’s promo in this week’s episode
Extro theme up and then fade under
“Thanks again to Mary Kato and Olivia Banda for coming in to our studio this week, and to extension agent William Susuma and our reporter Susan Gwetchu. If you missed anything in today’s episode, you can hear the whole program again Saturday night at nine. Or call us for program highlights on 022 345 6789. And don’t forget to tune in to Farming Today next Tuesday at noon for a brand new episode. Do you have children who are moving to the city? Then who is going to do your heavy farm work? We will talk to farmers who have found the answer − and it might not be what you expected! That’s next Tuesday, at noon, here on Energy 101 FM. Until then, thanks for listening. I’m your host Betty Chapota.”
Extro theme up and out.

6. In conclusion

Great farmer programs deserve great audiences. Use your skills and the resources of your station to ensure that your great programs are heard by as many farmers as possible. Create and broadcast ear-catching and heart-grabbing promos, intros and extros.

Good luck!

Acknowledgements

Contributed by: Doug Ward, chair of the Board of Farm Radio International (FRI). He was Radio Producer, Station Manager, Regional Director and Vice President at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

The draft was improved by contributions from:
Rita Celli, Host of Ontario Today, a news and current affairs program heard weekdays at noon across Ontario on CBC Radio One.
Havoc Franklin, Director of Local Program Development at the CBC.
Marvin Hanke, Director, Audio Clinic Productions, Blantyre, Malawi. He was a Producer at the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, and Executive Director of Story Workshop.
David Okidi, Manager, Business for Peace Project, at International Alert, Kampala, Uganda. He is the Director of ABS FM and was the Station Manager of Mega FM. David is a member of the FRI board.
Freyhiwot Nadew, Country Director, Ethiopia, Farm Radio International
Kevin Perkins, Executive Director, Farm Radio International.
Glenn Powell, freelance writer and communications consultant. He was a Farm Broadcaster and National Radio News Reporter at the CBC. He is a member of the board of FRI.
Caitlynn Reesor, Host/Producer of the farm program “Call of the Land,” broadcast weekdays on 25 radio stations across Alberta, Canada.
Walter Rinaldi, Producer, CBC Radio Promos.
Wendy Robbins, freelance radio producer and retired CBC Radio Producer.

Project undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD)