Types of Radio Programs

This post is for academic purposes only. Credit is to the original author(s).

A Radio format can be split into three parts, they are:

  • Spoken Word or Human Voice
  • Music
  • Sound Effects


Announcements: These are specifically written clear messages to inform. They can be of different types. For example station/program identification. These mention the station you are tuned into, the frequency, the time and the program/song you are going to listen to. As mentioned already you find in today’s commercial radio channels, these announcements have become informal and resemble ordinary conversation. There can be more than one presenter in some programs like magazines.

Radio talk: The radio talk probably is the oldest format on radio. There has been a tradition in India and Britain to invite experts or prominent persons to speak for 10 or 15 minutes on a specific topic. These talks have to go through a process of being changed into radio’s spoken word style. Over the years, these long radio talks have become unpopular. Instead, today, shorter duration talks are broadcast. Of course, you can listen to these talks only on public service broadcasting stations.

Radio interviews: Have you ever interviewed anyone? Probably yes. In the media, be it the newspaper, magazine, radio or television, journalists use this technique of asking questions to get information. There can be different types of interviews in terms of their duration, content and purpose.

Radio discussions: When you have a problem in your family or with your friends, don’t you say “let us discuss?” Yes we do. Through a discussion we can find out a solution to problems. In any discussion there are more than 2 or 3 people and then ideas can be pooled to come to some conclusion. In radio, this technique is used to let people have different points of view on matters of public concern. Radio discussions are produced when there are social or economic issues which may be controversial. So when different experts meet and discuss such issues, people understand various points of view. Generally, these discussions on radio are of longer duration-say 15 to 30 minutes. Two or three people who are known for their views and a well-informed senior person or journalist who acts as a moderator take part and discuss a particular topic for about 30 minutes. The moderator conducts the discussion, introduce the topic and the participants and ensures that everyone gets enough time to speak and all issues are discussed.

Radio documentaries/features: If you see a film in a movie hall, it is generally a feature film, which is story based and not real. But there are also documentary films which are based on real people and issues. A lot of programs you see on television are educational and public service documentaries. Radio also has this format. Unlike documentary films, radio documentaries have only sound – i.e. the human voice, music and sound effects. So a radio documentary is a program based on real sounds and real people and their views and experiences. Radio documentaries are based on facts presented in an attractive manner or dramatically. Radio documentaries are radio’s own creative format. The producer of a documentary needs to be very creative to use human voice, script, music and sound effects very effectively. Radio documentaries are also called radio features.

Radio drama: A Radio drama or a radio play is like any other play staged a theatre or a hall. The only difference is that while a stage play has actors, stage, sets, curtains, properties movement and live action, a radio play has only 3 components. They are the human voice, music and sound effects. Radio of course uses its greatest strength for producing radio plays and that is the power of imagination and suggestivity. The voice of the actors, music and sound effects can create any situation in a radio play.

Running commentaries : If you can’t go to see a football or cricket match in a stadium, you may watch it on television. But for that you have to be at home or at some place where there is a television. But if you are travelling or outside, then you may listen to radio for a running commentary of the match. A commentator would give you all the details of the match such as the number of players, the score, position of the players in the field, etc. So by listening to the running commentary, you get a feeling of being in the stadium and watching the match. The commentator needs good communication skills, a good voice and knowledge about what is going on. Today radio running commentaries especially of cricket and other sports can be heard on your mobile phones.

Magazine programs: You are familiar with magazines which are a form of print media. They are published weekly, bi-weekly, fortnightly or monthly. There are general magazines and magazines for specific readers. These magazines could be for children, women, youth or on health, sports, science or music. If you open any one of these magazines, you will find articles, reviews, features, photo features etc. Radio also has magazine programs like those in the print media.

NEWS: Among all the spoken word formats on radio, news is the most popular. News bulletins and news programs are broadcast every hour by radio stations. The longer news bulletins have interviews, features, reviews and comments from experts.


When we say radio, the first thing that comes to our mind is music. Music is the main stay in radio. There is no radio without music. Music is used in different ways on radio. There are programs of music and music is also used in different programs. These include signature tunes, music used as effects in radio plays and features.


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