What Radio Can Learn From The Beatles.


If you listen to Beatles singles, you’ll notice how clever their producer, George Martin, was at grabbing the listener’s attention at the very beginning.

‘The Beatles 1’, is getting the deluxe reissue treatment this autumn. It contains all 27 number one hit singles. All of the songs start with something designed to grab your attention. For instance, the song ‘Help’ should start with, “When I was younger, so much younger than today…” but George Martin starts it with John Lennon’s loud cry for help;

‘A Hard Day’s Night’ starts with a guitar chord played simultaneously on 12 string, 6 string and bass guitars;

‘All You need is Love’ starts with the French national anthem;

I recently attended Morning Show Boot Camp in Chicago where radio programmer and consultant Tracy Johnson explained that you only have seven seconds to get a listener’s attention.

If you want to learn how to write for radio, listen to how Beatles songs grab you at the start; the feedback at the beginning of ‘I Feel Fine’, the harmonica at the start of ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’ opening with a multi-tracked Paul and violins singing, “I look at all the lonely people…”

Beatles songs were written for radio. Everything we write for radio should be written with the first seven seconds in mind. The top line of a news story, first line of a commercial, first words said when a song ends. Listeners won’t still be there at the end if you don’t grab them at the beginning.

This year, a room full of radio people at a conference in Chicago were told what George Martin had worked out more than fifty years ago.

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