Driveway moments are those instances where something on the radio is so engrossing, the listeners cannot get out of the car.
Instead she or he just sits in the driveway, transfixed to the radio. If you are a community radio producer, you are probably also a fan. Surely you have had such a moment: a powerful interview, a tender story or a narrative that made you at once uncomfortable and yet unable to tear yourself away.
Community radio is focused on creating driveway moments. How you as a community radio producer create a driveway moment is complicated, but here are a few tips to find the mix that renders a driveway moment for your community radio project.
Keep your eyes open! Stories are always just a few feet away from you. Look for opinionated, philosophical, possessed people who capture your curiosity. Most importantly, seek to convey their essence to listeners. Involve those people in the collaborative process of storytelling.
As you think about radio, think about what story stays with you. Stories about people are most memorable – people talking to people.
Start any story with the audience. What they are interested is the relationship of a story to themselves as human beings. Passion, feeling, what it means to a source. There is a big difference between stories and facts. Use facts to tell a story, but people to illustrate it.
As community radio producers, each of you seeking to create a driveway moment has a mandate to bring a story to life. Good casting (choice of sources) and good mic positioning help.
Rhythm is one of the strongest elements to producing. Don’t tell what audio can demonstrate; how does audio put you in a smoky barroom? A chaotic rally? A one-room home shared by a half-dozen family members? In addition, remember layering of sounds sets a mood.
One can convey optimism, energy, passion in breath and cadence. Performance is important; listeners do not have facial expressions. If you need to go over the top, so that voice conveys more, good. We are not trying to deceive, but to be honest. Emotion sets a tone.
You hear print stories on the radio all the time, but no one remembers them. The mistake that people make is that listeners care about what they care about, and we need to be aware of what their listeners care about, not what we care about. They have their own interests, and we can keep them by telling stories that they care about.
Radio offers an opportunity to convey emotional truths that television never will have. Driveway moments are elusive, but with concentration and care to storytelling one can create a driveway moment no one will ever forget.