Intro to Genre: Podcast Scripts

As a member of Gen Z, one of my favorite modes of story-telling is through podcasts. Between podcasts like Serial and Dissect (more of a general, informative, thought-provoking style perfect for family road trips) to ones like Call Her Daddy, Morbid, and Tiny Meat Gang (which have a little more of a … defined audience), podcasts certainly have a large scope that captures most, if not all, demographics of society. Regardless of a podcast’s length or content, in my opinion they are an engaging way of conveying a message to your audience. For certain discussions, I think being able to hear a speaker’s passion and listen to them actually vocalize and explain their thoughts is really helpful. For my own project, since it is personal and a little hard to properly explain over text ( it has a lot to do with culture and my own experiences), a podcast could be an interesting medium to explore. The genre I am choosing, however, is the prelude to the podcast, a podcast script. I think that by navigating my thoughts through a podcast script, I will have more effectiveness and clarity in the message I want to convey from my origin piece.

After doing some research, I’ve been able to collect some information regarding certain conventions of podcast scripts. Below, I’ve listed some tips I’ve read about:

1.Make your script “invisible”

Even though you’re scripting your podcast to avoid it sounding messy when it’s recorded, make sure it doesn’t actually sound scripted when you speak. Podcasts are meant to be conversational, friendly, and natural, and reading off a defined script can ruin that experience. That being said…

2. Make your script conversational and written for the ear, not the eye!

The script should be easy to read so when you’re recording, you don’t slip up! Capitalize written words for emphasis. Write out words that are difficult to pronounce. Bold out different speakers. Read out your script to make sure you can breathe a little, your ideas and wording are clear and conversational.

3.Pay attention to rhythm.

Write sentences shortly and make sure they flow well when you read it out loud. Yet, also make sure there’s some variety, because in any conversation, having no variety in sentence length makes you feel like you’re talking to a robot.

4.Follow some general script elements.

Include a standard podcast opening (includes thanking your sponsors, production team, etc.) and move into an introduction to introduce a topic and any guests. At the end, use the standard podcast closing as shown by your production company.

5. Write out things you normally wouldn’t. 

Similar to above guidelines, make sure you write like you speak. Use contractions, shorter sentences (even fragments!), easy words, and everyday lingo. Even consider writing out certain symbols to make it easier to read: for example, instead of writing out 10,000 mm, write “ten thousand millimeters”. Similarly, write out acronyms and abbreviations! Also, don’t use parentheses since they don’t exist in spoken language.

6. Avoid the passive voice.

It’s just that. Don’t use a passive voice, you’ll just sound annoying.

7. Format the script clearly and to avoid mistakes.

Use a large, clear font and space your lines 1.5. Break pages at the ends of passages and number lines! This will make it easier to read.

8. Consider a who, what, when, why, how in your story, and how you will engage interviewees, research, recorded noises, production.

Like any story, make sure your script has purpose to it. It’s important you make sure you’re conveying all the information you want to in your podcast to get your content across clearly! Yet, podcast scripts also will include some references to interviewees, the research you’ve done, and certain sound clips you will play. All of these are noted throughout the script so the entire production process can move swiftly.

Here are some snippets off of a podcast script I used from an NPR Training Article, “What does a radio script look like?”. Here, you can see the speaker’s part’s written out in grey. There are some sounds indicated by <<crossfade…>>, and <<OBAMA>> (indicating his speech and its duration). Additionally, other speakers are bolded to make a distinction from the main.

In addition, this script includes contractions, conversational dialogue, and wording that is easy to follow. It is also formatted clearly and visibly to avoid mistakes.

I’m excited to explore this genre more and start working to turn my origin piece into a podcast script. I think it will give me a lot of creativity in voicing my thoughts.

3 thoughts to “Intro to Genre: Podcast Scripts”

  1. I also love podcasts, but had never really thought about what they look like behind the scenes, so reading this was super interesting for me. It sounds like a really cool format to get your point across in a more personal and less rigid way than another genre. I’m interested to hear how it goes and see what strategies you use to make something written sound conversational.

  2. A podcast script is a really interesting genre. It has the freedom that a conversation has, but the structure of a written piece which will be a really cool balance to find. I think it lends itself well to your topic too because like you were describing it will allow it to be more approachable, but still maintain the seriousness the topic warrants and deserves. I can’t wait to see how your experiment turns out!

  3. For whatever reason, whenever I think of podcasts I think of them just being recorded in one go and then being edited based on whatever the people said. That, however, definitely is not how podcasts work, so reading about all the little details that go into writing a podcast is really interesting! I like how personal podcasts can be and that it is a genre that can allow you to really explain your thoughts in a way that text sometimes doesn’t allow. Im excited to see where you go with this experiment!

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