Blog Post

Radio is Not a Genre

Jan 15th, 2019

Radio isn’t so much a genre, as it is a medium.

You’ll find the typical action/adventure comic book hero genre in film, television, comic books, and graphic novels (even literary novels): a Main Character defined by his Universe and an Objective Story exploring an imbalance of Physics.

Black Panther follows this genre. As does the Daredevil series on Netflix. And the classic Frank Miller graphic novel series, The Dark Knight Returns.

Occasionally, you’ll find comic-book stories that break this convention of the genre. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse trades a Main Character Domain of Universe for one of Physics. Miles biggest problem isn’t who he is but instead, what he does (or doesn’t do). It’s all the Spiders together who must contend with who they are and where they belong. They’re from other Universes, and their very existence threatens themselves and the rest of the city.

While this is a film, you could easily translate the same narrative into a graphic novel without the necessity of changing anything.

A Tendency Towards Genre

Some mediums lend themselves better to certain Genres.

Superhero action/adventure stories turn to Universe or Physics because it’s the external spectacle that captures the essence of that genre.

On the radio, you have thoughts and ideas communicated primarily through dialogue or narration. Like a Shakespearean play, what the characters think—and the conflicts inherent in those thoughts—make for better drama.

Because of this similarity, the radio format likely feels more at home communicating Overall Stories in the Mind Domain—just like the majority of plays.

But again, this is a tendency of the medium. You could certainly tell the same narrative found in Spider-Man over the air—it’s just that you would miss out on the spectacle.

I would recommend choosing the genre that fits your narrative first (pun intended), then think of medium. What do you want to say with yours? What is your Narrative Argument?

Once you have that, the structure of that genre will become apparent. Then, you can start working towards taking advantage of your chosen medium’s strengths to communicate your original intent—your Narrative Argument.