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Guest Article: Radio isn’t easy – Contract’s Nima Namchu

23-September-2010
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Guest Article: Radio isn’t easy – Contract’s Nima Namchu

It’s not easy writing radio spots.

The radio spot writer in an advertising agency competes with the big guys – folks like Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, Prasoon Joshi, John Lennon, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan and (while you might not like hearing this) at times even The Spice Girls.

It’s not easy writing radio spots.

When someone sits down to read a book or a magazine, that’s what they intend to do – read. A person might stop to reach for that elusive bowl of potato wafers once in a while, but he is more or less focused on the written word staring back at him. Processing the words, painting pictures in his head…

When he’s watching television, it’s usually at the end of the day – he is tired and has probably switched off some parts of his mind. While his brain defragments, he lays back and passively receives information from the box.

But with radio it’s a little different. We turn it on, but we’re focused on gazillion other things.

Will I get to the meeting on time?
Should I stop to offer that pretty little thing a ride?
Why can’t cyclists stay off the road?
Now, if I can only squeeze my car through that tiny space between the two trucks.
(And if you’re in the kitchen) I hope I didn’t overdo the haldi.

It’s not easy writing radio spots.

In film, there are lens filters, edit patterns, music, actors and exotic locations to make your idea attractive. In print, you have location, photographer and, if required, Photoshop. In radio, all you have is black. And sound.

It’s not easy writing radio spots.

The radio writer is quite like King Leonidas facing the Persian army with just 300 men. Ever heard of a radio spot that cost Rs 60 lakh to make? Neither have I. Tight deadlines and budgets tighter than Leonidas’ loin cloth – that’s the story.

It’s not easy writing radio spots.

Most of the time, you will get two days to produce a radio spot. Most of the time, there will be no pre-production meeting, where the client team and the agency team deliberate over the finer nuances of the accent and intonations. Most of the time, the voiceover artist you are using will be the voiceover artist everyone else is using. Most of the time, the client will ask “Thoda launchy nahin ho sakta!?”.

It’s not easy writing radio spots.

But you will churn out script after script after script. You will ride the radio waves on sheer guts and determination. You will write that script that stops a hand from changing stations. You will write the script that’s supposed to get you that piece of gold or titanium or whatever metal they think of next. Then someone comes along with a better script, a few more rupees and several few extra hours to craft and fine-tune his spot till it’s just right.

No, it’s not easy writing radio spots.
But that’s why we are still here, aren’t we?


(Nima Namchu, Executive Creative Director, Contract Delhi, and is part of the Jury panel for the first ever exchange4media Radio Advertising Awards, to be held in Mumbai on October 7, 2010.)

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