Audiences now expect to access visual content associated with radio and audio content

film phone

These days, radio programs can’t solely rely on audio content to reach audiences. It’s as simple as that.

The issue is that when it comes to radio or audio, audio files alone don’t work. Think about it: when was the last time someone sent you an audio link through social media and you clicked on it? Visuals (images and videos) work better and are much more shareable. 

A common mistake when producing photos or videos is to shoot it as an afterthought or an add-on to your audio content. This approach doesn’t work as well or produce the best outcome for your audiences. If you are thinking about visualising radio because you want to engage audiences, you are more likely to succeed if you work your visual production in at the start.

Visualised radio is not TV

Some radio studios have webcams and while it might be interesting for a while, is it really that interesting to check out a person sitting at a radio panel? At the simplest level, visualised radio is a webcam in the studio, sometimes on a live feed. Although, generally speaking this does not provide engaging content. However, streaming video when there is a high profile guest in the studio has proved to be more popular for some stations.

Thinking about how to bring visual content to your audio means asking yourself first: ‘what audio content works best with visuals?’ And ‘what audio content is likely to be popular online?’ It may be a short segment, a special guest or a certain story which is part of your live show.

Creating visual content for social media

If you have a film review segment or a popular guest, you can source a lot of images and information online to post on social media. In the case of a film review, you can use a movie trailer or promotional material rather than just the audio review.

For example, Radio National has a weekly film review show, The Final Cut hosted by film critic Jason Di Rossi. RN already have a popular Instagram channel and they have extended these audio reviews and visualised them for Instagram audiences. The example below of ‘The Girl on The Train’ was made by using promotional material from the film found online and designing a template using online design tool, Canva.

RN film review

Image | ABC Radio National via Instagram 

If you have a high profile artist, brand or page, you could link (tag or #hashtag) back to their existing online community which will bring new audiences to your page.

Outside Broadcasts and Live Music Events

Events with live audiences work well when you’re trying to create visual content. Whether it is an Outside Broadcast where your station is emceeing on a stage or a live music event, you are more likely to get engagement from people who can’t get to the event or who missed it. You can also get people involved at the event by promoting a hashtag and asking people to enter photos via social media. This is a great way to gather content (UGC) from the event and get more people to engage with your social platforms. And you can even run a competition for people to win prizes. 

Check out the #volcomschoolofcool campaign HERE

Videotaping a segment

If your station has a regular segment with presenters and/or guests that you think are particularly popular, try filming the segment. For example, comedy sketches, a live music guide or a topical debate could work well online. 

For example, Triple J have a loyal and successful following on YouTube with their regular ‘Like a Version’ – where artists cover other famous artist’s songs.

Making an audio documentary using a video camera

Rather than making an audio documentary, you could consider shooting a documentary on a video camera and then using the audio from the edited documentary on-air. This was done by BBC 1Xtra when Charlie Sloth made It’s Grime Up North


Photos and Audio

You can create engaging videos with existing audio accompanied with photos. They’re sometimes called photo-films or slideshows. Whatever you call them, they’re usually short photo essays which explore a series of photos which are related to the piece of audio content that has already been recorded. Audio documentary, Murder in a Small Town used old photos and newspaper clippings to visualise the haunting story of a young mother murdered by her neighbour in NSW.

Animating Audio Content

One of our favourite projects is Blank on Blank where old recordings of famous people are given a new life by animators. Watch how cleverly the animation and sound design tells the story of how Larry King was seduced by a listener – live on-air!

Interactive documentaries

Interactive documentaries usually require extra budget and more digital (design and development) skills to produce over a longer period of time. However, they can prove to be powerful extensions of audio storytelling – especially for feature documentaries. 

NFB: The NFB (National Film Board of Canada) produces some of the world’s best online interactive documentaries and you can see how audio is fundamental to their success.

Highrise & The Seven Deadly Sins

SBS: SBS has also produced some of Australia’s best interactive documentaries and feature stories.

Immigration Nation & Exit Syria 

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