How to Create a Stellar Radio Show in 5 Steps

So, you want to your own radio show.

Sounds simple enough. You obviously have lofty goals.

But you don’t know where to start.

I have worked on both sides of the microphone. I’ve hosted shows for over 20 years and taught new and upcoming talent how to create or to improve their shows.

As a radio consultant, I often audit, or professionally analyze, the radio shows and offer suggestions.

It doesn’t matter if you choose to work on an online or traditional radio station, the steps are the same. A good show is a good show regardless of the way it’s broadcast.

Here is how to create a radio show people want to listen to in five (hopefully pain-free) steps.

1. First Things First

In the words of Mary Poppins, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”

Creating a show requires some planning and research. Here’s a few things to consider.

  • Audience: Who will this show target. Radio station managers have the information at their fingertips. They can give you a snapshot of the target audience.
  • Format: Is this a music or talk show? How many times will you talk? Do you want to include special segments?
  • Name: What’s in a name? Quite a lot. Consider a name for your show that is memorable. Sometimes simpler is better.
  • Cohosts: Do you plan to fly solo or include a cohost? If you decide to include a cohost, chemistry is important. Audition potential cohosts to make sure the two of you jive.

Once you have planned out the basics, you can start the second part of the process.

2. It’s 90% Preparation and 10% Presentation

Radio is more than pushing buttons and talking. As the old adage says, “content is king.”

Even veterans of the industry prepare for their shows.

Show prep is easier with access to the internet. It cuts prep in half. You should spend 15-30 minutes prepping for each hour of the show.

What’s considered good show prep?

For music radio, feel-good stories, local news, and artist information make good content. Promote station events and shows.

Talk radio is topical and requires extensive research into the topic. Know all sides of an issue.

Sports radio is based on stats and player information. Sports radio requires the most amount of time in my opinion. Watching games is part of the prep.

My early days of radio in 1995.

3. Don’t Wing It

While experienced on-air talent can go on the air without much prep in emergency situations, we don’t wing it.

Even talk breaks that sound off the cuff aren’t really unplanned. We like to call this planned spontaneity in the business.

While responding to listener calls happen in real time without much prep, you have researched your topic and should have a response.

The key to being successful is don’t be overconfident. There is truth in the phrase “pride often comes before a fall.”

4. Give the Audience what they want

The greatest mistake new talent makes is forgetting the audience. A popular show starts with the audience.

It’s easy to think the show revolves around you. I mean, your name is on it.

But without an audience, your show will not succeed. Stations want shows that can draw ratings. Ratings equal revenue. Ultimately, you helping the station earn money.

In this age in social media, you can determine what topics excel and what topics flop. You can post polls to engage the audience.

Keep in mind, it takes several months before your show will generate any measurable results.

It’s all about promotion.

5. Promote, Promote, Promote (and promote some more)

Don’t assume the audience knows your show exists. Another mistake hosts make is assuming they have a larger audience than they really have based on a few comments.

If you work for a station that budgets for marketing, you have the best situation. Not every station can afford to market every show, especially in smaller markets.

Here’s a few low-to-no cost ways to promote your show:

  • Community: Get out into the community. Go to events. Speak for groups. Volunteer to emcee or judge contests. Find ways to physically engage with the potential audience.
  • Social Media: Find the social media platforms that appeals to your audience and post regularly. Use multiple methods like videos, lives, and photos.
  • Guest Hosting: Offer to guest host on other shows and podcasts with a similar target audience.

There is no such thing as too much promotion. You will continue to promote for the life of the show as new competitors enter the market.

So much goes into the creation and success of a radio show. These steps should get you started.

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