(By Tom Zarecki) Show prep rule of thumb: It’s a fact — the more planned your next show is, the more casual, conversational, and spontaneous it will sound. Obviously, when there’s a one-time event in your market, you’ll talk about it (concert, flood, local bank robbery, etc.), but what do you do on the days when there’s not much going on? How do you plan what to talk about when it’s a plain ol’ average day?
There’s nothing worse on the radio than a music show with no customized content. So make some up! It’s easy. But where can you get ideas, day after day, week after week?
Here’s where (and how).
Top Topics: Customize These Now!
Hashtags: But not used the way you might think. Search topics that might be used anywhere, so you’ll get results from everywhere. Not to use on the air, just to trigger ideas. I’ve tried these, and there are always people commenting on topics like #myweakness, #trafficmess, #mybiggestlies, #motivationmonday. If there’s a hashtag you do want to localize, add your station name to it, like #rock101mybiggestlies. Even “generic” hashtags like #badweather will get tons of responses from average people, many of which make great one-liners. Try it!
Use music log hookups in unusual ways: “Coming up, all artists starting with the letter B!” Or all singers with kids in the music biz too, all artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, all artists who’ve been in at least one movie, and so on.
Your “Everyman” role: Let others hear that you are, um, “normal,” just like your listeners are. You pay bills, drive a car, mow the lawn, raise your kids, get fast food, the list goes on and on. Nearly every “normal” thing you do can become a story or a lead-in to a discussion.
More ideas from Texture: Texture is a free app that’s a digital magazine, scooping up links to stories from hundreds of publications. You select only the magazines you want to see, so the hundreds of topics you’ll see are right up your alley, so to speak.
Jobs in your area: You should know this anyway — the prevalent occupations and job titles in your market, so that occasionally you can refer to people in that business.
But Wait, There’s More!
Local events: If you don’t talk about major local construction issues, or protests at City Hall, or big community events that draw hundreds or thousands, you may as well be a satellite channel, right? This is part of what top local stations do to rule a market.
Car talk: A dominant part of radio’s listening comes from people in cars. Mention car brands, types of drivers, beat-up old cars, bad drivers, etc. Not all at once, of course, just one every now and then. Do some homework on topics you create.
Keep a topic list: Add to it and subtract from it every week or month, with the top topics in town, to trigger show prep discussions.
Show prep meetings: You do have these, right? If you’re the lead in a morning show, get with your co-host and news and sports person to get their take on what tomorrow’s show should feature.
Other dayparts: Actually, the above ideas apply to all DJs in all shifts. If you’re hosting a weekend shift and you’re not allowed, for example, to stop the music and talk in depth, that’s OK. Take one of these ideas and reduce it to a 10-second music intro talkover. You can do it!
Tom Zarecki is a former Marketing Director with RCS Sound Software, and an Adjunct Professor of Communications and Marketing, Western Connecticut State University. Twitter/Instagram @TomZarecki.