Radio Hed: Character Development

Radio-Hed-Logo-2By Jeffrey Hedquist

Are you different now than you were last year, last month, yesterday, a few minutes ago? We’re all changing. So should the characters in your radio commercials. As difficult as it may seem, you want your audience to be interested in those characters.

It’ll make your story more compelling. Even in the short duration of a radio commercial. Aside from making the story about them, with a plot that your target audience can relate to (based on their needs, wants and desires), if you can have your characters move, it will draw listeners in.

If your characters remain static, you’re less likely to keep the listener’s attention, especially upon repeated exposure.

A character can go from being a devil’s advocate to an advocate, sad to happy, frustrated to relieved, frightened to calm, shy to confident, coward to hero, from a loser to a winner, from the throes of passion to the depths of outrage, hysterical crying to hysterical laughter.

And what can be the catalyst for these changes? Other characters, each behaving from their own point of view, which you’ve already developed in your back story. As they experience their lack of, discovery of, or interaction with the advertiser’s product or service, they change. What else? Self-discovery, overcoming obstacles, and emergencies - all the vicissitudes of life cause us to change.

Show the changes with dialogue and the attitudes of the actors, but also with sound effects and music.

A simple example is the problem/solution commercial. On this month’s RAP CD is an example of this type. It’s one of a campaign we created for Full Partner, a website development and hosting firm.

If you’ve created a character your audience can relate to strongly then they will have the same “aha” experience as the character in your radio play. Now you have the ideal situation where your listener is co-creating with you. They are to an extent “rehearsing” that discovery themselves.

Try applying this technique to all your commercials, even the monologues. See if your character has remained static or has changed. Change is movement, which attracts and keeps attention, which leads to involvement and eventually to a purchase.

© 2003 Hedquist Productions, Inc.

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