Friday, May 9, 2008

One Goal for a Good Morning Show

I consider myself pretty well-informed when it comes to what’s happening in the world, but I’m delighted when I learn something new or hear a totally new perspective when I’m listening to the radio. I’m especially delighted when that happens when I’m listening to a morning show, because that lets me face the rest of the day armed with some new nugget(s) of information. And I think that’s one of the things a good morning show should do every day: prepare you for your day. Sure, it should tell you everything you need to know for the day: weather, traffic, etc., but it should also tell you everything you want to know for the day: what’s cool, what happened on TV (or whatever) last night…basically anything that people are going to be talking about today.

Part of your job is to inform listeners enough that they can take part in a water cooler conversation even if they didn’t spend all of the previous night watching the show/movie/game/sunset/whatever. On the morning after “Secret Talents of the Stars” aired, I heard WYCT-FM/Pensacola, Florida’s morning hosts, Brent and Dana, playing clips and explaining the goofy voting system from the show. Even though I hadn’t watched the show (and, judging by the fact that CBS cancelled “Secret Talents of the Stars” after only one episode, neither did you), I felt like I had experienced it, and I’m sure other listeners did, too. Once you establish yourself as being the authoritative source for everything listeners need and want to know, they’ll come to rely on you for that kind of thing. And when you’re talking about something that’s already happened, like in this example, try to incorporate actualities into your show. With one simple clip, you could illustrate the same thing that you could spend all day trying to explain.

As you prepare for each day’s show, you should know what each day’s “lead story” is and plan your shows accordingly. Is there one topic that everybody is going to be talking about? Then make sure you’re talking about it, too. But also work on ways to make sure what YOU say is different and more compelling than what everybody else is going to say. Every host in town will be using the same basic set of facts for any given story; the challenge for you is to make your story stand out, to figure out how you can tell that story in such a way that it matters to your listeners. It could be funny, it could be heartbreaking, or it could be something in between. Whatever it is and however you do it, make sure you make it relevant to your audience.

Your show preparation will naturally be focused on the show that you have coming up next, but that shouldn’t stop you from thinking about a show that might be coming up in a week, a month or even a year. Some plans take time, and one of the best things you can do is to keep an organized file of ideas. That file can certainly include generic ideas, but it should definitely include ideas about specific days, events and occasions. Those could be holidays, celebrations, memorials, or any other notable things. After each day’s show, think about what you would do differently -- if anything -- if you could do that show again. Was there an opportunity you missed? Did you come up with a brilliant idea after it was too late to do anything about it? Don’t let that get you down. Instead, write those ideas down and try them next time. Did you come up with a great Tax Day idea on April 16th? Rather than curse your bad luck at missing this once-a-year opportunity, celebrate the fact that you’ve got a great idea in the can for next year. And if you wouldn’t change anything about that show, figure out what went right and how you can replicate that success again.

With every show, always make your listeners your number one priority. What do they need to know, what do they want to know, and what’s going to make them tune you in again tomorrow?

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