Thursday, June 5, 2008


It’s probably pretty obvious to say that content is important to what we do on the radio, but what may not be as obvious is how to best go about selecting and delivering that content. You’re likely working with the same stories and information that your competitors are using. What should differentiate you is how you choose your stories and how you present them. Anybody can read the same stats, figures or facts; what makes you different is how you use them.

Before going on, I should say that I don’t pretend to have one magical formula that will work in every situation. Not every story will be right for every format, and not every story that’s right for a given format is right for every personality working in that format. The trick is to pick the stories that are right for you and your audience. If you pick a story that works well with your style, but isn’t going to be of interest to your audience, what’s the point? Or if you pick a story that will be of interest to your audience, but you won’t be able to effectively deliver it, again, what’s the point? Neither of those scenarios is likely to lead to success. You need to marry the right stories to the right personality.

You are your own best judge of what’s right for you and your show. If you don’t think a given story is both of interest to your audience and something you can deliver effectively, stay away from it. Of course, there are many ways to skin a cat, and if you find a story that you think is going to be of interest to your audience, you should work really hard to find a way to deliver it effectively before you decide to skip it and move on to something else. Remember, even though it’s “your” show, it’s not really about you, it’s about your audience.

On that same note, there are some stories that you just have to talk about. For example, if there’s breaking news, listeners are counting on you to let them know about it. That doesn’t mean you have to impersonate a grizzled hard-news journalist (unless that’s what you really are…in which case you’re not impersonating anything), but in those moments, substance will be much more important than style. (Breaking news is a separate discussion, but if you need help developing or refining your breaking news plans, just say the word.)

Once you’ve picked a story that’s right for you and your show, then the real fun begins. You need to decide where in your show you’ll be discussing that story, how you’ll tease it, how you’ll intro the story once you get to it, how you’ll deal with the body of the story and how you’ll get out of it and move on to the next part of your show.

Just like with selecting stories, I don’t pretend to have one magical formula that applies to the placing, teasing, intro-ing, discussing or exiting of every story, but I can tell you that you need to keep your listeners in mind every step of the way. How can you best position this story for your listeners? How can you hook them with your tease(s)? How can you reel them in with your intro? How can you ensure that the “payoff” of every story was worth the time they spent listening to you? How can you move on to the next item on your agenda? And, maybe most importantly, how can you get them to reward you for all of your hard work by tuning you in again tomorrow?

None of this is necessarily easy, but neither does it necessarily have to be all that difficult. With every potential piece of content for your show, ask yourself if it’s relevant to your listeners. If it is, then your job is to find the most compelling way that you can share it with them. That will be different for every personality and every audience, but the end result should be that both you and your audience feel it was worthwhile.

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