The Bottom Line For On-Air Hosts


 (By Jeff McHugh) Last week in Atlanta, I was coaching a team on the importance of starting a show, speech, or presentation with an immediate knockout punch. A military veteran shared his version of the same idea: “We used to call that BLUF: Bottom Line Up Front!”

I had never heard of BLUF before. Being a lazy writer, my immediate reaction was “I’m  stealing that for our newsletter.” 

In the military, decisions are made quickly. Servicemen and women are trained to write recommendations and conclusions in the first sentence with supporting facts after.

BLUF is used by skilled politicians and pundits. Notice how they respond to reporter questions with one powerful headline, followed a detailed statement. The first sentence is what sticks.

The average attention span of Americans today is 8 seconds. Use a BLUF in the setup of your radio or podcast segment. Grab them in the first moment or you will lose them to another show.

What is a good BLUF?

  • Begin a story
  • State the conflict
  • Announce a secret to be revealed
  • Ask a compelling question
  • Express an emotion
  • Start an interactive game and explain how it works
  • Introduce new life-changing information
  • Describe a funny situation
  • Announce breaking news
  • Play a remarkable audio clip.

What is not an effective BLUF?

  • Mentioning a giveaway prize
  • Time of day
  • Day and date
  • Current temperature
  • Chatter: “good morning, glad you joined us…” etc.
  • Artist and title of previous song
  • Traffic and weather
  • Hype for station concerts, client remotes, etc.
  • Sponsor name
  • Lengthy music beds and production.

Give the bottom line up frontthen bring in the station name, frequency, show name, slogan, and other mechanics. You will better capture listeners’ attention so they remember those things.



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