Tips: producing a music radio package

Georgia Mann-Smith is a producer at BBC Radio 3 where she has produced for music shows including In Tune, Music Matters and Late Junction. We caught up with her at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to hear her tips for producing a successful radio package.

A radio package is pre-recorded audio content cut together to tell a story and delivered for broadcast. There are no set rules as to how a package has to sound or how long it should last as this depends on the type of story you are telling and the radio network it is for. It could be a five minute news report, a lively film review or an in-depth biography of a composer.

Depending on what type of package you are producing it may include voiceover, interviews, 'wild track' (sounds from the environments where you are recording), music and effects.

Have a plan
Go in with a strong sense of the story you’re trying to tell. If you know you’re dealing with a certain type of music or a major event, have a sense of the key aspects you want to get across to your audience before you start recording.

"A lot of it is about working closely with presenters." – Georgia Mann-Smith

Be organised
As you’re recording, write things down. Just a quick note such as “Track one = song x” will be a big help, otherwise you could end up returning from a recording with a load of unnamed tracks which you can’t remember anything about. Be organised as you’re collecting your content, and as soon as you start editing, label everything.

Time is of the essence
Have an idea of length in mind, and be realistic. If you’reproducing a four minute feature, there’s no point interviewing ten people.

Be clear, concise and ruthless
You might think that particular piece of music is lovely, but it’s more important that you tell a clear story to your listener. As a producer you can get very wrapped up in the thing you are making a feature about, but you have to remember that the audience are hearing this for the first time.

Use your imagination
There’s a lot you can do to capture the spirit of a package imaginatively – try to be creative with them. It’s easy to forget how many techniques are available to you.