Radio work really isn't very complicated. The recommendation-after listening to the ATIS and then the tower frequency from about 25 miles out to get a rough idea of what's going on-is after making sure you're not interrupting, to call in when you're about 15 miles away, and announce who you are, where you are and what you want to do. If there's an ATIS, you'd also include the fact that you have the current information. "Albany Tower, Cessna Cardinal 828JT, 15 miles south at 3,500 feet, with November, landing Albany." The controller will respond with something like, "Cessna 828JT, Albany Tower, Runway 1 in use, report left downwind, wind 020 at 6, altimeter 30.10."