Intro to Radio Drama

Lesson 1:

Intro to Radio Drama


Objective: Students will be able to understand what a radio drama looks like as they read and discuss a sample radio drama script.



  • Standard 7–8.T.CR.3: Use form and structure to create a scene or play with a beginning, middle, and end that includes full character development, believable dialogue, and logical plot outcomes.
    • This lesson is scaffolding to get to this standard within this project


EUs and EQs:

  • What is a Radio Drama? Why are we taking time to study radio dramas?
  • How can ideas for stories be generated?
  • Story ideas can come from anything, even a random assortment of words and objects.





-Ask the students if they know what a Radio Drama is? (basically a play but performed over the radio-no visuals, only voice)  Show the Studio C clip.


Step 1:

-Give the students a short history about radio drama (Summarize the following encyclopedia article and use the PowerPoint for visual reference):

  • Radio drama (popular before the spread of television) depends on dialogue, music and sound effects to help the listener imagine the story in her or his “mind’s eye”.
  • Since radio dramas are purely auditory, without any visual, both good writing and vocal performance are vital to the radio drama’s success.
    • What difference did the sound effects make in the Studio C Mystery Hour? (It was a lot more interesting because things went wrong.)
    • What about the vocal choices? How did those choices influence the radio drama? (We were able to tell how the characters were feeling through the way they used their voice.)
    • Both sound effects and vocal choices will be crucial in the development of your own radio drama performances. We will focus more on these throughout the unit. This class and next class, however, we are going to focus on the writing aspect of creating a radio drama script.



Step 2:

Have every student get out a piece of scratch paper. Don’t worry about putting your name on the paper. We are going to do a writing activity. All they need to do is to write down their ideas/answers in response to the four prompts I will give you.


First, write down a specific source of light. This can be any source of light such as, a lamp, a stage light, the sun, the moon, the stars, a flashlight, etc. Give students a few seconds to think and write. Encourage them to just go with the first idea that comes to mind. They shouldn’t think too hard about these answers yet.


Second, write down a specific object. This can be anything large or small, such as a paperclip, an airplane, a ticket, a backpack, a fire extinguisher, etc.


Third, write down a sound using an onomatopoeia. For example, boom, crackle, snap, pop, bang, cuckoo, hoot, meow, etc.


Fourth, write down a specific place. For example, a treehouse, a cafe in Paris, the school auditorium, in central park, etc.


When you see that students are finished, have them pass their papers in (they will be used in Step 4).


Step 3:

Ask for volunteers to help perform a sample radio drama. Assign the following parts:









Give each student volunteer a copy of the script and have them do an impromptu performance. (Use music and sound effects if available or have a student make the sound effects)


After the performance, talk about what made the Star Wars script so fun to listen to (taking something familiar and changing it, distinct character voices, etc) 


Step 4:

Have the students get into groups of 3-4 people. Hand each group a few papers of their classmates’ radio ideas (from step 2).


Tell them they may use one of these ideas for their story if they would like or they may come up with their own. Give them the rest of the class period to decide the basic story line for their script, characters, etc.


This is mostly just a brainstorming day. By the end of class, you need to know who your characters are and where the story will take place as well as a rough idea of what the story is. You will turn in a piece of paper with these written on it: character names and descriptions, setting, and story idea. You should feel confident enough and discuss enough with each other that you can stick to this story idea. The idea you turn in at the end of class is the one that you will continue to work on and eventually perform. To change your idea, you will need special permission from me.


NOTE: tell the students NOT to decide who will be playing which roles yet. They won’t decide that until DAY 4. Pre-casting tends to restrict their creativity and box them in. Also let them know that their story can have multiple characters-one person could technically play 50 different roles…they would just have to change their voice!