Radio and the Divine Commission

Radio and the Divine Commission—No. 2

The do's and dont's of radio technique.

By DALLAS YOUNGS, District Leader, Williamsburg, Pennsylvania

If we would obtain our share of free radio privileges, we must study to make our pro­grams unusually strong in attention-getting value. For a program to get on the air, it must appeal to the broadcasting officials; and for it to stay on the air, it must appeal to the public. The smaller radio stations especially are constantly on the outlook for programs that are high in quality, and that in the man­agement's Judgment will increase the station's prestige and good will. When such a program appears, it is given consideration.

Broadcasting ' officials are generally quite astute in judging the quality of a program. The listening public, however, passes the final judgment. If a program has merit, a certain volume of fan mail may be expected. If fan mail is lacking, the program is likely not to be continued long. It is, therefore, of prime im­portance for us to develop a program of the very highest quality, but, if possible, to origi­nate some feature that will catch and hold the attention of the radio audience. If we do not have outstanding musical talent at our com­mand, it is better to use a studio record. Choose something appropriate—such as, per­haps, the "Hallelujah Chorus." This is atten­tion arresting. Commercial broadcasters use this strategy continually. Oftentimes ideas may be gleaned from commercial broadcasts that may be adapted to religious uses with good success.

Securing Free Time.—In trying to secure free time, we should work out our program very carefully. No amount of time and effort should be spared to give it appeal. When we approach the station management, we should be fully prepared as to our plans and purposes, and be ready to give the reasons why we think our program will be successful. Take an open and fair attitude of mind to the station, and, after much prayer, be prepared to abide by the decision of the management. You are asking the station for time that at the card rate would, in the course of a year, amount to several hun­dred dollars. All that the station gets out of free time is public "good will," and the man­agement has a right to decide whether your program has sufficient merit to get that good will. It is unfair to expect the station to carry a program that will not do this. Of course, if time is being paid for, then responsibility for the merit of the program rests with the sponsor.

In approaching a station for free time, it is well to listen in and become as conversant with its programs as possible. Learn the history of the station, its wattage-power, and the names of the personnel, if possible. In short, learn all you can, so that you may be able to talk intelligently at the time of applica­tion. Most stations. have a program director, and in arranging for an audition or a broad­cast, he is the one to see.

Preparation of Script.—A successful broadcast demands careful preparation. Mat­ter that goes to press may be proofread for mistakes, but mistakes made before the micro­phone are not subject to correction. The goal, 'though seldom achieved, is a perfect delivery. Public speaking allows certain idiosyncrasies, grammatical errors, and errors in pronuncia­tion, clearing of the throat, blowing of the nose, self-corrections, etc., but the persistent indulgence of these in radio speaking will soon mean failure.

It is, therefore, highly important that all material that is presented to the radio audience, even to the prayer, be carefully prepared and written out before presentation. A well-prepared script gives confidence and goes far toward assuring a good delivery. To attempt to speak from notes or an outline lessens con­fidence, upsets the tempo, and impairs delivery. Furthermore, listeners oftentimes challenge statements made, and it is imperative to know the ground covered.

Broadcasts Cannot Wait.—If a minister, in delivering his morning sermon, runs over five or ten minutes, the consequences are not likely to be serious. But this cannot be in radio preaching. Likewise, a minister might be a few minutes late to an appointment, and peo­ple would wait for him. But if he is a few minutes late to a radio broadcast, the broad­cast cannot wait. If our program runs over the allotted time, we gain the ill will of the station management. This is unwise, espe­cilly when we are getting free time. The program director, in arranging the week's schedule, divides each hour into four fifteen­ininute parts. The program that follows ours may be a paid one, and the broadcaster may be anxious to make the most of every moment of his time. His program is timed for fifteen minutes. He neither wants to crowd it nor cut out any part; so it is imperative that we begin and close on time. In fact, we should close from fifteen to thirty seconds before the ex­piration of our time, as this allows the an­nouncer opportunity to close our program and open the following one.

Arranging the Pages.—Therefore, in pre­paring our program we should time it accu­rately. There should be no guesswork in this respect: We should go over and over our presentation until we know we can deliver it, without crowding, in the specified time. It is far better to cut out a paragraph, if need be, than to run over. The script should be type­written if possible, and double-spaced on one side of the paper. The microphone picks up every sound—the desired and the undesired. Papers should not be crackled, but handled noiselessly. The best way to eliminate any undesirable noise is to allow the completed sheet to fall to the carpeted floor. For this reason the sheets should never be stapled or fastened together.

Another caution is to number each sheet in consecutive order and see to it that they are in that order before beginning the broadcas. I well remember the anguish I experienced through making such a blunder. In giving a question-and-answer program, the answer to one question ended at the bottom of the first page. The third and closing sheet was in the position of the second, and, without noticing it, I began to read. It was only by the Lord's blessing that I managed to complete the broad­cast without marring it.

Beware of sentence insertions and marginal notes. They cause confusion of mind, and result in many a stumble. There is no time to hem and haw before a microphone, to decipher insertions and marginal notes. Go over your manuscript until you can almost tell what is coming next without looking—until it is almost as familiar as well-known Bible verses. Leave nothing undone that will ensure a smooth, un­interrupted, continuous delivery. Sometimes mistakes are made which the audience will not detect. When such is the case, it is never wise to correct them. Go right on—don't interrupt the program. Remember, what comes out of the home radio or the public loud-speaker is the finished product, and should be as smooth and perfect as possible.

Posture and Voice.—It is generally better to stand before the microphone than to sit, as you can give more expression to your words when you are standing. Stand still, facing the clock. Don't move around after you begin to speak. Learn the proper distance to stand from the microphone. It is generally about eleven or twelve inches. If you are too close, the microphone will pick up hisses and lip sounds. The same voice level should be main­tained from beginning to end. Do not start with a high pitch and gradually lower the voice toward the close. The reason for this is that the operator sets the volume properly at the start, and if the voice is lowered, the volume is not right then. Unless the operator detects a change, the reception is affected.

Do not shout, but use inflection for empha­sis. A moderate tone of voice must be main­tained throughout; yet a monotone must be avoided. This may be done to a large extent through inflection. "A great many words are softened and sweetened and made almost poetical in their sound by the least bit of inflec­tion," says William Black. By inflection we bend words upward or downward. Do not spead too rapidly, but by all means avoid speak­ing too slowly.

Never under any circumstances eat peanuts, candy, or anything else, or chew gum, before going on the air. Sometimes someone in the studio will pass candy or peanuts around, but be sure to refuse ; otherwise delivery will cer­tainly be impaired. A flow of saliva is started, especially by peanuts, which necessitates con­stant swallowing.

Avoid coughing, sneezing, or clearing the throat as far as possible. This can fre­quently be done by sheer exercise of the will power. The best way to avoid coughing is to take care of your health. Avoid catching cold. Watch for the first signs of a coming cold, and do all possible to prevent its develop­ment. This, of course, is not always possible; so in case of a severe cold or other sickness, it is wise to have three or four transcriptions made and held in reserve against such an eventuality, particularly where no substitute speaker is available.

Don't knock other churches or speak dis­paragingly of them. Remember, every knock may be a boost. On one occasion a fellow radio minister named the religious programs that were being given over that station that were worth listening to, but he did not men­tion my program, "The Bible Question Box." This was immediately challenged by telephone calls, cards, and letters of protest.

Remember Mr. and Mrs. Average Citizen

Convey your message through the medium of simple, direct sentences that the average person will be sure to understand. The edu­cated person will not be offended ; so make your discourse simple, plain, connected, and logical. People appreciate and benefit from that which they understand. If we fail to get our message across to Mr. and Mrs. Average Citizen, we suffer loss.

And now something about pronunciation. The dictionary should be consulted freely con­cerning any word on which we may be in doubt. It is generally better in radio work to substitute a word for one we have trouble in pronouncing. Even though we may go over and over the difficult word until we think we are sure of it, still, under the tension of the broadcast, we may find that memory has failed when we come to it.

The church congregation is at the mercy of the preacher. They will sit docilely by even though the minister hems and haws, coughs, clears his throat, corrects himself, makes grammatical errors, and uses words which they do not understand. They will not walk out even though they do not like the subject or the speaker's voice. But such isn't the case with the radio audience. The turn of a dial or the push of a button will cut us off and bring another program on. We should, therefore, make our subject matter as interesting as we can, and present it with all the appeal possible, choosing such subjects as are likely to interest the largest number of people. Few people will follow us through a detailed explanation of history. Side issues should be avoided. Keep to the main line of thought, and move with rapidity from one point to the next. To hold any audience there must be progression, and this is never more true than with a radio audi­ence.

In radio speaking the listeners must be influ­enced wholly by the power of the spoken word. The speaker is hidden from his audience—his facial expressions, gestures, personality, and magnetism count for nothing here. The in­spiration of the audience is lacking. In fact, the studio atmosphere is likely to be noncon­ducive to spiritual and devotional thought. A hillbilly company may be going through their songs and speeches in another studio, and through the glass partition you may have a full view of their antics. These are circum­stances that must be overcome by earnest prayer and sobriety of spirit.

Make Yourself Friendly—Make your voice and talk friendly. The radio preacher who would win for himself a friendly follow­ing must be friendly. Show interest in the problems and perplexities of your listeners. Pray for the sick, the aged, and the shut-ins. Pray for parents, that they may have divine wisdom to train their children for the king­dom, and for children, that they may escape the snares and pitfalls of sin. Pray that the entire family circle may be saved without loss in the kingdom of God. And let the prayer be short! Allow not more than one minute for this in a fifteen-minute program.

Offer free appropriate gifts, such as book­marks, literature, pictures, etc. One friend made will advertise your program and win to it other friends. Make it a point to answer all mail you receive in a friendly, spiritual man­ner, especially all Bible questions. All this pays dividends. I had the pleasure of baptizing my first radio correspondent.

Make friends of the studio family, and in­vite their criticisms. Listen attentively to the criticism of friends and enemies, and do not be sensitive. Before changing any part of a program, it is best to get a large number of opinions, and then seek expert advice from some member of the studio management. I once engaged two women to sing on one of my programs. About half the critics said their music was fair and good; the other half said that it was poor and was hurting the program. I asked the assistant manager his opinion, and he said, "It's about as good as some churches put on." That settled it. It was not good enough. The studio management is generally friendly and cooperative. They, too, are anx­ious for your program to be popular. A popu­lar program begets good will for the station, and that is the stock in trade, as it were, of every broadcasting company.

The wise evangelist leads his . audience to agree with him. He will perhaps start off the first night with a point upon which all can agree, and ask for a show of hands. This is done night after night, perhaps several times during the sermon, against the time when he will call upon them to make the really impor­tant decision of accepting Christ, keeping the law and the Sabbath, and paying their tithe. He thus creates in his audience the habit of co­operation. The radio speaker cannot ask for a show of hands, but he can accomplish the same thing in fact. He can lead his audience to cooperate with him in thought. Following the giving of the Signs of the coming again of our Lord, such an appeal as this might be given : "Can you, my friend, in the light of all these plain signs, afford not to be prepared to meet Jesus in peace when He comes?"

Ascertain the policy of the station in respect to asking for donations. Generally when a station gives free time, it will not allow the solicitation of funds over the air, and some will not allow it by letter. It is better to find this out at the beginning than to ignorantly conflict with some regulation, and lose the time. All men like to be dealt with fairly. They like honesty and fair dealing, even though their own rating may not be so high. So it is best to take to the person in authority any problems and difficulties that may arise, and lay them on the table.

(Concluded next month)

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By DALLAS YOUNGS, District Leader, Williamsburg, Pennsylvania

April 1941

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