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Let’s face it: I’ve neglected to write for the ear.

Limiting myself to print and online writing mostly, I never realized how strange my work sounds when read aloud. Last week while producing a radio piece for WORT, a community-based radio station here in Madison, it became perfectly clear that I had to change my writing style to make things work.

The piece focused on Wisconsin’s Sporting Heritage Bill. Click here to listen (Move the cursor to 17 minutes in to listen to my segment).

If I can share one thing I’ve learned so far, it’s this: Economy of words is key.

News stories entirely suitable for print or online can sound like a jumbled mess on air. Take whatever you wrote and parse it in half; avoid strange alliterations; choose the most simple, short words. Pacing matters too, and it’s likely something I’ll have to get the hang of in future radio pieces.

I also didn’t realize the importance of speaking with confidence — I’ve grown comfortble hiding behind the printed word, not reading it to listeners with style.

But there’s certainly hope for this reporter, including online resources and helpful colleagues. I found Michael Meckler’s website on radio reporting useful. Also, having a really patient, experienced person to work with (WORT’s Molly Stentz) helps as well.

Happy listening!

Photo by Ross Murray/


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About Me

Marianne is a science communicator working in Madison, Wis.

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