Audio postcard: How to write a successful radio drama

Tony Mushoborozi, 34, is a script writer from Kigezi, Uganda. He is currently working on a mental health radio drama to be aired on radio stations nationwide in Tanzania to help tackle the stigma associated with mental illness.

He is also the writer and creative force behind the successful My Children radio drama in Uganda, which highlighted the nutritional and health benefits of cultivating and consuming orange-fleshed sweet potato.

In this audio postcard, Tony talks about his upbringing and explains the process of writing a radio drama.

Tony explains how he intertwines three stories to engage the listener, mixing tense and happy story lines to play on the listener’s emotions. “If one character is dealing with a tough, grim situation, the other one might deal with a sweet enchanting situation in their life.”

Once he has settled on the story lines, he drafts a synopsis and begins writing the dialogue, which he says is harder than it looks.

The weird thing about drama is it’s a reflection of real life, but it’s not real life. So there has to be conflict when people are talking. There has to be personal motivations for what they are doing. There has to be the beauty of language that is drama. Otherwise if you hear people talking normally and being normal human beings, it’s like peeking into a conversation and it’s a bit boring.”

Tony says he enjoys the characters he is able to write.

I’ve been lucky to write dramas that target country audiences and I say I’m lucky because I grew up in the countryside. So I understand the country people,” he says. “I create people that are based on the people I know.”

The Integrated mental health in Malawi and Tanzania project is generously funded by Grand Challenges Canada.


About the author
Adam Bemma is a Canadian journalist based in Arusha, Tanzania. He is currently volunteering his time for the Farm Radio International office there.

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