The intro of a radio story introduces the story. The narrator hasn’t come on yet, its just the host explaining to the audience what they are about to hear. Even though, really, most of the work is heard in the minutes that follow, those few seconds in the intro can do a lot to either pull the listener in or bore them from the start.
The very basics of an intro are just two things: accuracy and the news, what makes your piece newsy? Moving into the details: bad intros had too many ideas and numbers, they give too many fact and figures. Nothing like statistics to get someone to switch stations or nod off mentally (don’t tell my statistics professor that I said that). Cliches are another easy pitfall…avoid them like the plague! More on that later…the next one is promises made in the intro that are never returned to or kept. Also vagueness, you don’t want to be too general, you know? Because then you don’t know what’s going to be what and stuff like that.
Good intros, on the other hand, seduce, focus, surprise and show what is at stake (this is not all my vocabulary, I’m reading a handout from class). Seduction: you know that your story is important, what would you say to catch the listener’s ear? To drag them away from other important things they are doing with the radio going…like driving. Focus: intros will need at least one sentence at the beginning and end sum up what your story is about. Language and content do a lot to bring in a surprise that helps to pull listeners in and keep them listening. I’m a little worried about how surprising, seductive and edgy I can make the sequester sound for my story. The last piece of a good introduction is telling what is at stake. For my story this is the easiest thing to indicate; I think a lot of my intro will end up revolving around that aspect.
Now, I know this post is getting long, thanks for bearing with me. Because as mildly interesting as all the above is, its not the point I was trying to make. I heard most everyone’s intros last weekend and it really called attention to how important these intros are. But they aren’t kidding when they say that. It’s not just about pulling the listener and keeping them listening ( I mean, its a LOT about that, this is radio), its the first impression of your story. Like in any situations, first impressions do a lot to set a foundation that lasts long into further acquaintance. If your intro gives one impression and your story portrays something else your listener is still left with their first impression and instead of listening they are trying to reconcile these two differing impressions and ideas.
So, no pressure as I get into writing my intro. I’m fascinated with how such a short piece of copy can do so much to make or break a piece, to add or detract from its quality.