Radio has evolved over the years to meet the ever- changing needs of listeners. Nevertheless, the basics of putting together a radio show have remained much the same.
Radio managers annually review their on-air offering in terms of talent, revenue opportunities and strategies for the year ahead. Presenters and producers should also take time to critically evaluate their programmes.
Here are some of the things that should be looked at.
Know your audience
Of course this makes it so much easier to prepare a show. It does not require a focus group or listener survey. By simply looking at the topics that gain your show the most calls or social media engagement you have an indication of what your listeners want to hear. The opposite is also true: when a topic/feature does not draw the desired interaction, it may simply mean that it does not interest your listeners. Know what makes your listeners tick, and what doesn’t.
How do you want your audience to feel?
Radio has a way of connecting to listeners’ emotions. As a producer or presenter, with every content or story you share on air, it is an opportunity to connect to your listeners. With any piece that is to be shared on air, there should always be a few questions one must ask. Is this compelling? Is this interesting? Is this informative? Is this educational? Does this content change a listeners life? Does this make a listener laugh? Does this content make the listener want to make a positive impact? These are a few of the many questions producers and presenters should be asking themselves when putting a show together.
Prep! Prep! Prep!
When I was still a programme manager at a campus station, I used to remind presenters that preparing for a show does not begin an hour or 30 minutes before a show, but the minute your show ends. If you are working on a breakfast show ending at 09:00, prep for your next show should ideally start at 09:01. Many think preparing for a show only entails doing internet research, but it goes far beyond that.
As a presenter or producer, the conversations you have with your colleagues at the water cooler, something interesting you may have experienced at the coffee shop, a phone conversation you may have overheard in the queue at the grocery store are all possible content pieces for your show.
Working in radio requires one to always be inquisitive and not only rely on Google or newspapers to generate content, but also requires one to look around to source content.
Tease a bit…
A radio presenter will always do to two things on air, teasing and then delivering. Throw-forwards, a must on any show, highlight an activity that is happening later on. This could be a new song to be premiered on the station, reminding listeners about a popular feature on the show or an interesting interview coming up.
The rule of thumb about throw-forwards, is to always make sure the tease is worth it.
Use RAM to monitor listening patterns
Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) is a useful tool to show listening patterns. If you see sharp peaks or declines at certain times on your quarter hour graph, these are valuable insights as to whether a certain feature or segment is working or not.
Lwazi Mpofu is the 2017 Liberty Radio Awards Bright Star Recipient and a radio production lecturer at the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa ( NEMISA) in Parktown, Johannesburg. He has previously worked as a producer at Tru FM in Bhisho in the Eastern Cape and as a programme manager at the Stellenbosch University Campus station MFM.
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