The Killer Show Checklist


(By Jeff McHugh) Randy Lane recently wrote about the one thing all great media presenters have in common: planning.

Planning requires discipline, which is defined as “training oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way.” That’s why Randy followed up his planning article with one on rituals.

What helps a person develop rituals? A checklist.

Some things are too important to rely on memory. Surgeons, pilots, and rock stars setting up for concerts all use checklists.

Winning radio shows and podcasts use some version of a checklist. Here is one you can consider and customize to work for you.


  • Gather relevant breaking news and topics.
  • All players bring personal dilemmas for content.
  • Prepare games with trivia, sound, and prizes.
  • Plot the whole show. Layout every segment before airtime. Deviate from the plan as needed.
  • Write out teases for each segment and plan where you’ll air them.
  • Pull audio clips, music, and sound effects for appropriate segments.
  • Do a “table read.” Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David had a rule while producing Seinfeld: if they both laughed, it was usually a good joke for the show. Test each segment with your primary cast members. If the premise evokes a reaction from all players –it’s a go.


Review the plan for each segment with the Execution Rule of Four.

  • Setup: How will you begin in a compelling way in under :08 seconds? (Tip: your tease for this segment often also works as a great setup.)
  • Payoff: What’s the high point of this segment? That’s your best exit. Determine as a team if the segment is worthy of one minute, two minutes, or more of airtime.
  • Point Of View: That includes opinions, thoughts, feelings, and stories from each player. Who has the strongest take – that person goes first in the mic order?
  • What Else? Any tweaks that would take it from good to great?


  • High fives: What worked well on today’s show or how did that segment work?
  • What didn’t work well or why didn’t that break work well?
  • Why? What would you do differently next time?
  • What’s left over that you didn’t get to that can go on tomorrow’s show?
  • Podcast: What is the best segment of today’s show? That segment is the first thing people hear on the podcast. The second best segment goes at the end, and the hosts tease listeners to stick around for it.
  • Social Media: What is coming up on the show in the next couple of days? What can we post today that evokes stories and content that we can use on the air later?

Jeff McHugh is known for developing remarkable talent for both morning and afternoon drive. He brings an uncommon mix of positivity, creativity, and strategy to the shows that he coaches. He is a member of the team at the Randy Lane Company. Reach Jeff at [email protected]


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