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Radio Drama Brief

Learning Outcome 1 - Codes and Conventions, Styles and Structures



Codes are subliminal signs that create meanings

and can be seen through both symbolic and
technical factors. The technical aspect of the
codes are the underlying elements that guide to
viewer to understand text and textual meanings,
they are used to tell the story through equipment.
An example of this is the type of shot that is
chosen to film a scene and what it implies.
The symbolic codes reveal the intentions of what
the shots are conveying; this is often not visible.
Examples of this can be the context by the choice
of words characters use to show the hidden
emotion. Both subliminal and technical codes
work to aid the viewer in understanding the intent
of the storyline, this makes it easier for the
viewers to understand the concealed content and


The words during radio broadcasts are the most important way
of understanding the formality or the informality of the
broadcast. As the presentation of the broadcast is dependent
on the way the drama is vocalized through choice of words that
they decide to use. The whole mood of the can change by the
formality of the words, colloquial language will make the
broadcast seem more informal and using longer words will give
the broadcast a more formal appearance.
The choice of words can give a hint to the listeners of what kind
of language they will be expecting to hear throughout the
broadcast. This way they can use the words to predict the
seriousness of the broadcast weather it is a drama or a
comedy, the way the words are spoken can also indicate the
formality, for example if the words are longer they are less
likely to be broadcasted from a comedy. This example shows
how words have to be acquitted to the storyline to keep the
listeners attention. (skip to 14 minutes 40 seconds)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v= 6D6ulnJq2Pk


The voices of the broadcast refers to the manor of the way the
characters are speaking, weather they choose to speak slowly or
fast. This is a important element to helping the audience
understand the mood of the audience, as the way of speaking will
create a atmosphere for the broadcast. This way the audience
can distinguish between the different genres.
The voices in a radio drama often have to be realistic to capture
the imagination of the audience, therefore in radio dramas it is
often important to make the voices include environmental factors
for realism, for example using a muffled voice will increase the
realism when the characters are talking on the phone. These
effects on the voices are designed to be immersive, so the
broadcast must include these voices with the correct tone for the
situation they are portrayed in. This example shows the manor of
the voices and the realistic expressions they are using. (skip to
19 minutes 20 seconds)


The speech of a radio drama is an important code that is a tool for

understanding the social situation of the broadcast, this makes
speech a sign for predicting the language we expect throughout the
shows. Speech is the method that the broadcast uses to
communicate to the listeners with. Speech can be seen as a
constant narration of the events in the broadcast to assist the
listeners with information from the storyline, narrative speech is
commonly a non-diegetic overview of the events used for guidance.
Radio dramas often include a narrative speech over the main
storyline that is acted out. This can be useful to the listeners as a
guide to the storyline, It can fill in the listeners with vital information
and act as an aid. Narrative speech can also be used to show a
change of time between different events whilst summarizing
notable information from the drama. This example shows how the
speech portrays the language of the characters. (skip to 17



Music is often placed on radio dramas to exaggerate or to

increase the emotions portrayed in the event. It is used as a
tool of telling the audience what emotions the characters are
feeling by indicating the sentiment of the characters. Music is
a speechless method of adding scale to the experience by
dramatizing the situations the characters are going through.
The music during a radio drama is very important for the
audience to understand the level of emotion. Music
accompanies the broadcast and exposes the hidden feelings
of the characters. music is also useful for establishing the
genre of the program, this is because it is a non-diegetic tool
for setting the mood throughout broadcasts. Therefore music
is a way of revealing the thoughts of the characters without
using actual dialogue. This example shows music to create
more emotion in the scene. (skip to 3 hours 21 minutes)


During radio broadcasts ambiance is used to create a more

realistic surrounding for the set of the drama. It sets a realistic
atmosphere for the genre by using background noises to
mimic the sound of a real life situation. An example of this
would be using faded voices talking and footsteps to create a
busy outdoors scenario.
Sounds can be seen as the smaller details in the broadcast, by
using sounds that are diegetic to emulate real life. This is
important to the drama as it appears to sound more realistic
atmosphere. The ambience of a radio drama will include
subtle noises to show the environment and situation of the
broadcast. This is a important way of aiding the audience in
the imagination as they can create a surrounding for the story.
This example shows how ambience and sound create a
realistic surrounding. (skip to 10 minutes 45 seconds)


Silence in radio dramas are used to both indicate a passing of

time, often used between events to show the time passing. And
are also used to create tension between characters. often in
radio dramas silence is used as a substitute for dialogue as the
silence is an effective way of commutating to the audience and
showing the mood of the characters. Often there is a silence
between the characters dialogue to express tension.
Silence is also a useful tool for expressing time passage
between scenes, often there is a silent gap between each scene
that signifies that time has passed. Therefore silence is both a
diegetic and non-diegetic sound as it is included externally for
time passage and within the drama for tension; this is a
common trait that dramas often intent to include. This example
shows how silence is used to show the passage of time. (skip to
10 minutes 10 seconds)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjq- SdNm5KE


Aural Signposting
Cliff-Hanger Endings
Use of Fades
Use of Silence
Direct Speech
Titles/ Credits

The conventions in media are the general

methods of completing things, most mediums
include these general rules for completing. So
therefore it is what the viewer would expect to see
from each specific genre, and the common factors
that we can predict to see and hear from each
specific genre. For example a science fiction film is
likely to include futuristic gadgets and extraterrestrial events.
The conventions can be seen as a underlying
blueprint for each films genre, they need to
include the elements that the audience will be
seeking when viewing the genre. The conventions
are seen through visual depictions and audio
representations of the theme to help the viewers
understand what common subjects and topics the


Signposting refers to the technique of establishing the location

before the scene starts or at the beginning of the scene.
Through radio dramas, this is done aurally so the location must
be established through hearing. An area is often revealed
through sound effects or background noises in radio drama
broadcasts. These effects are often introduced before dialogue,
and only remain for a short while.
Signposting can be an effective way of revealing the situations
liveliness, for example certain locations can include more
ambiance than others. Nevertheless this is a useful way for the
audience listening to distinguish between different settings as
specific locations may include common background noises.
Therefore these signposts make up the atmosphere of the set
and the pace for the scene. This example shows a setting
being established before the storyline. (start from beginning)


Cliff-hanger endings are common for dramas as they

commonly choose to end an episode at the peak of a
suspended moment. This is likely to occur in dramas because
the episodes often rely on viewers returning to reveal
storyline, it does this by making the ending of each episode
uncertain but by remaining full of tension or excitement.
Cliff-hanger endings are particularly well known in dramas
and radio dramas because the storylines are often based on
situations between characters, and the situation is designed
to be exciting as the full storyline hasnt been revealed. By
ending each episode on the pinnacle of the suspension, radio
dramas can ensure that the viewers will tune in again to find
out t he storylines and conclusions. This example below
shows a cliff-hanger ending. (skip to 42 minutes)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v= W067ZKaKhtM


A flashback in radio dramas are when a character is

temporality removed from the sequence to recall an event
that occurred in the past. Once the narrative plot is
recalled, the sequence will continue as previous. In radio
dramas this is common when the characters are reminiscing
about events that happened I the past or previous episodes.
The flashback is based on the memory of the character and
is taken out of the action, so the other characters present
on the scene are not expiring the same process. However
the flashback is usually a sign that time has paused to allow
for the flashback to occur, therefore the flashback is often a
mutual experience between the character experiencing the
flashback and the audience. This example shows a
flashback. (skip to 39 minutes)

Use of Fades

Radio dramas will usually include aural fades as a transition

between events or to signify the end of a scene or event by
increasing or decreasing the overall audio. This can often be
found at the end of a scene to state that the scene has ended
or is transitioning to the next scene. Fades can also be used
when transitioning to and from flashbacks brining in depth or
a exterior setting that co-exists as the main thread of the
story continues.
Adding fades can help add context to the storyline, it can
reveal important information or reveal moments that led up to
a particular moments. It does this by fading into flashbacks
that can show how a situation can be resolved, this technique
helps to dramatize a moment in the storyline. This example
shows a fade between two scenes. (skip to 10 minutes)

Use of Silence

A common aspect of a radio drama broadcast is that it uses

silence occasionally to externally communicate with the
audience, although the silence is also being experienced by the
characters. This element to a radio drama conveys noticeable
emotion to the interactions between characters as dramas rely on
using silence to signify the emotions being felt by the characters.
The silence in a drama is usually placed to increase tension build
up between characters, this is important partially in drams as
they would need tense aspects to the shows for viewer
maintenance. Silence is a crucial element to the drama broadcast
as it explains the viewers feelings without using words, but
instead generates a rigid atmosphere that reflects on the
characters and is recognized by the audience watching. The
example below shows a silent break in a conversation. (skip to 40


Characterization in radio dramas refer to the way that people

are represented in the sequences by stating its main qualities. In
radio dramas, characterization is a way for the broadcast to
display a picture of each characters to the audience. This often
includes details of the characters attitude, beliefs and
appearance, and is a way fro the drama to give an insight into
what the characters are like aurally.
Through characterization the audience get a understanding of
what the characters in the drama act like and what they look
like, through descriptions the radio drama can give an
perspective of what the personalities of the characters are.
Although this is limited as it can only describe the traits of each
character without displaying any images so therefore it relies on
detailed descriptions and the imagination of the audience. This
example below shows characterization. (skip to 10 minutes)


Chronological development is used to describe the literal

manor of the storyline, when events unfold in the correct
sequence of the overall story as appose to revealing
information that is useful later or suppressing information.
This makes chronological development a linear structure for
the dramas plots and storylines.
The chronological development is mostly set to help to
audience viewing to understand the storyline of the drama in a
sequential fashion that progresses and shows the parts of the
story in a linear way. Most dramas use this technique as a
drama is often based around storyline development and
charterers, therefore it is common to see events unfold in a
straight sequence without any of the main thread being
interrupted by future events. This example below shows
progression in storyline. (skip to 43 minutes)


Another important element of radio dramas is the narration

over the main storyline, through narration the audience can
get a aid to the storyline or a summary from the events of the
scene. Narration often occurs through the transitions from
scenes or at the end of scenes. Narration is non-diegetic and is
used to commutate directly to the viewer, it ensures that the
listeners are aware of what information is important.
Narration also gives an insight into the mind of the character
that is narrating, expressing the thoughts and emotions
directly to the listeners. Narration acts as a explaining and
referencing tool for the storyline through a aural report of the
events that had occurred in the episode or in the scene by
directly comminuting with the audience in a non-diegetic
method. This example shows a narration in a radio drama.
(skip to 8 minutes 45 seconds)

Direct Speech

Direct speech refers to the sentence spoke by a character

often in quoted in speech marks and is the exact dialogue of
the character. This contrasts indirect speech witch is a
estimated version of the quote or text. Dramas are attempting
to create a realistic scenario and therefore require the speech
to be read out exactly as the character has said them, making
them direct speech.
Direct speech is a straight way of observing the point of view
of a character as it is a exact expression, therefore direct
speech is a method of conveying the exact words of the
character. In radio dramas, direct speech is a way to dramatize
the communication between characters often presented in a
quotation mark as it is directly from the character. The
example below shows examples of direct speech. (skip to 8

Titles/ Credits

The viewers of a radio drama or television drama would expect

to have a method for recognizing the specific shows that they
seek, therefore a useful way for them to identify the shows is
by looking at the titles of the broadcasts. By using titles the
audience can discover and acknowledge the shows they seek
however on radio broadcasts the titles are often only read out
aurally by the narrator prior to the episode of the drama
Another expected factor of a radio drama would be the credits
that often feature before or after a series is finished. Credits
list members of pre-production and post production who have
elaborated on the show in any context. For example we can
expect to see producers, directors, actors and editors listed in
the credits. This example below shows a radio drama listing
credits. (skip to 2 hours 50 minutes)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v= 1QlDUWpIeng


In radio dramas music is a non-diegetic factor that

exaggerates the emotion of the scene, the music adds effect
to the characters feelings by expressing there emotions
through the music being played. Radio dramas use music as a
common part of the sequence as it is vital that the audience is
aware of the emotions that are being portrayed in the play;
this also helps to dramatize the atmosphere of the scene.
Through music, the broadcasts can add more drama to the
scenes that they are playing, this is because it helps the
viewers perceive the true emotions of the characters and the
overall scene; music can also give the viewers a understanding
of what the characters are actually feeling. This technique
occurs in a non-diegetic process and is mainly experienced by
the audience. The example below shows music In a radio
drama. (skip to 38 minutes)

Appropriateness to
Target Audience
Radio Drama Styles
Creation of Mood
Or location

The style is often a particular distinctive

appearance that separates genres into there own
categories. The style is the tool that helps the
viewers distinguish between each individual
subject. Similar form and designs are factors that
help the audience categorise what they are
watching and hearing. An example of this can be
the horror style witch is likely to include darker
colours such as reds and blacks, whilst showing
suspense and flashing images.
Styles are the core themes both visual
appearances and a common audio pattern with
appropriate trends throughout. It is the visible aid
that dictates what the viewer is expected to see
and hear. Therefore style is the predicting model
that hints towards the common traits of the genre

o Target Audience

A program will aim its shows based on there target

audiences, because of this each show must be
specifically designed to appeal to the target
audience and there desires. Therefore the radio
shows must assure that the broadcast is
appropriate to the targeted audience for the
subject. To do this they will carry out research and
collect data on what the target audience has
interest in.
Radio dramas will then assure that there programs
are suited to there target audience, they will
create common themes that will be expected by
the viewers and attempt to create a sequence
that pleases them and meets the standards of the
specific age group. By doing this they are making
the show more suitable to there market.


Dramatic reconstruction refers to the way something is

acted out or voiced out in a more characterized expression
with a greater deal of emotion. In radio drama this can
often refer to the aural version of expressing a speech
with a more impassioned rendering, this can simply be a
more dramatic way a story is read out or acted.
In radio dramas stories or plays can be reconstructed with
a greater emotive vocalization to suite the dramas
purposes. This makes this particular style of radio drama
to be preferable to the audiences as they are created to
entertain by keeping the interest of the audience when
broadcasting the shows. Dramatic reconstruction can be
described as a way something is acted out without full
knowledge of the exact situation or words that were said
therefore making it a rendition of an event through a
estimations or predictions through reenactment.

Radio Drama

There are many styles of a radio drama, these all

categorize under radio drama but are unique. One
form of a radio drama style is a post-modern radio
drama. This particular style represents the world
without traditional standards but instead
experiments with various other representations.
Another technique would be theatre of the mind
witch focuses more on the imagination side of
radio dramas such as sounds created and words.
There are many radio drama styles and these can
be seen as either literal or figurative as they
attempt to create a narrative subject that is only
produced through aural representations of radio

Creation of
Mood or location

When a radio drama produces its broadcasts, It will aim to

convey a certain mood for each scene or act. By using
direct aural styles, the drama will attempt to inflict a
specific mood for the episodes. Mood is often associated
with the overall feel of the drama, however the characters
within the drama will each have there own mood witch will
be emitted onto the listener and to the other characters.
Mood is often created by word choices as it helps the
listener understand the emotions of the character, the
mood can also be created by the characters surroundings
and the actions that the characters take. This is the inflicted
on the audience and the atmosphere of the drama, as it will
reflect of the other characters contrasting emotions.

Narrative Structure
Development of Plot

A structure in a radio drama can be the inner

construction of the product, the factors that build
it up and hold the product together act as a
constructed order to make a radio dramas basic
structure. These structures need similar elements
such as plot development that controls the
characters and storyline to ensure that listeners
are still interested. And narrative structures to
avoid confusion and maintain a steady storyline.
Radio dramas often require a structure to keep the
episodes with a climatic tense storyline that does
not reveal the full plot lines to the audience or to
certain characters making it a more exciting
experience for the listeners. All radio drama plots
require a structure to compose the storyline in a
similar manor to each other episode, this makes it


Radio dramas on average are between one hour

and three hours long, this contrasts a drama
television show witch on average are 30 minutes
to 45 minutes. Radio dramas often require this
much length as they need more time for the
structure of the story to develop and expand,
aurally this takes a longer time as there are no
The first stage of the plot will often be the
establishing plot and will take over the first
quarter of the length, the second stage will be the
new situation that arises witch will also take up
another quarter. The third quarter of the duration
is taken up by resolutions to the plot and the final
section will be used to create another problem for
the main characters. This way the duration of the


Narrative structure focuses on the content of the

story and the form used to tell the story. The story
and the plot both fall under the narrative structure
of a radio drama, this forms a framework for the
unfolding story throughout the drama. The
narrative is a string that consists of a set of
events that are likely to occur in the drama.
A narrative structure often unfolds by starting with
a situation witch leads to a series of changes
occurs according to a pattern that has a cause or
effect to a character. Prior to this the structure
often has a new situation that arises and brings a
end to the main narrative with a new one arising.
This cycle is a typical structure that repeats in

Of Plot

Plot development refers to how the story of the

drama progresses and the progression of the
events in the storyline that lead to a resolution. It
is common for the plot to be interrupted by
obstacles as this would link In to the characters
development and how the viewers seethe
These are crucial for dramas as the often rely on a
protagonist experience difficult situations with
other characters, this is used to make the
storyline more exciting to the listeners and
ensures the plot will grow and expand. It is
important for a plot to develop otherwise the
drama will not excite the listeners and they are
likely to swt0ityhch off, if the plot continues to
develop the listeners are more likely to be