Radio Intros Guide: With 7 Tips and Examples

Is your current radio or podcast intro dull and in dire need of a revamp? 

Today’s blog presents tips on how to craft ear-catching intros. You’ll learn:

  • What is a radio intro? (Chapter 1)
  • Common mistakes that can kill your intro (Chapter 2)
  • Ways to make your radio intros rock (Chapter 3)
  • Exemplary intros six examples (Chapter 4) 

Let's get started:



Chapter 1: What is a Radio Intro?

Chapter 2: Common Mistakes Made with Radio Intros

Chapter 3: Tips to make your Radio Intros Rock

Chapter 4:
Exemplary Intros from the Broadcasting and Podcasting World


What is a Radio Intro? 

It’s a short segment at the start of a show. It serves to introduce the hosts or give a preview of what's coming up such as the guests in studio, the topic of discussion, etc.

It lasts anywhere from 10 seconds to several minutes. Radio intros have multiple styles; you can play the show's jingle then introduce the hosts; the host can give a summary then play the show’s jingle, etc. 

A simple example of a radio intro:

“You’re listening to Captain Jack’s Afternoon Show on CloudRadio. It’s Saturday the 1st of July. Today, the best hits are coming your way, "Think About It...Staying Alive...Do you Dance by Rose Royce," and more. Less spiel and more music. Prepare for takeoff.”

Attention Span & First Impression

To create the most amazing radio intros, you must understand two factors:

  • Attention span

  • First impression

What’s the average attention span? Is it 8 seconds or is that just an urban myth. The truth is; your attention span varies depending on the activity.

Remember the famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire, “You had me at hello.” When listeners are finding new podcasts or radio shows, they often listened to the first seconds; they stay if you sound interesting or skip to the next show if you’re dull.

It’s therefore critical for your radio or podcast intro to grab the listener’s attention instantly in the first 10 seconds or less.

In those first seconds, the listener passes a judgment on your show; is it interesting, boring, stupid, or exciting? Your intro must grab attention and form a good first impression.

Elements in Radio/Podcast Intros

#1: The Voice

Who is the voice of your radio intro? Should it be the host or a voice artist?

It really depends on what's effective. In that, the first voice must make the listener stay.

Have you ever watched movie trailers? It's often a deep and ballsy voice doing the narration, and rarely the actors, though they are awesome entertainers.

If you want to sound professional, get an announcer. The voice artist will do a better job introducing the host.It also gives the host credibility and authority. But if it’s a music show, the DJ is always the one welcoming listeners and introducing the songs.

#2: Music

Why is music important in an intro? It sets the mood and creates an atmosphere. The music can be slow, fast, groovy, etc.

You should only use licensed music. That's music you have rights to. For instance, you can't use a Beatles track, unless you have explicit permission from the record company (Apple Corps).

However, you can search for royalty-free music or compose your own music for the intros.

#3: Sound effects

Sound effects make your radio intros more vivid. For instance, what comes to mind when you hear a horse troting on concrete?

The sound evokes the picture of a horse in your brain. It may invoke a different feeling if you have interacted with horses in the past.

What does the sound effect of a ticking clock signify? The passage of time, perhaps.

Adding sound effects to your radio intro is like seasoning a piece of steak with cumin or rosemary; you make it more delicious and palatable.

#4: Episode information

Intros are the place to give vital info about your show to listeners. Firststate the title of your podcast or radio show. “But they can read it.” Well, restating it helps it stick in the listener's mind.

Mentioning the episode title, number, and date is also essential. The hosts must identify themselves and the guests they are interviewing.

If the show contains material of a disturbing nature, you’ll need a disclaimer. For sponsored shows, you also say, “In association with or brought to you by.”

#5: The writing style

Writing for radio requires that you write conversationally. Not using pompous words or an inflated vocabulary.

Good writing respects rhythm. It's fast. Then slow. It's clear because listeners have one chance to comprehend the message.

Mistakes People Made with Radio Intros

When writing this post, I had the chance to review lots of radio intros.

Some rocked, while others had some defects.

This chapter highlights some of those pitfalls.

Let’s see them:

#Mistake 1: Making the intros too long

The intro should just be 10 to 60 seconds long. But some intros drag on for over one minute. It’s mostly because of ads placed at the beginning.

Well, the show also needs money. I’m not disputing that, however, if the first 2 minutes are all ads, at least they should be interesting and relevant. Because at some point, the listener will wonder if the whole episode is just ads and tune out.

There is a better approach.

In the first 10 seconds, inform the listeners what’s coming up, for instance, “An owner bites his dog in New York. A man finds oil in his backyard and more strange headlines. But first here is a message from our sponsors. Did you know that you can reduce your radio hosting costs and get more features by migrating to CloudRadio?”

#Mistake 2: The host voice on the intro and when it doesn't grab attention

If you’re short on cash, voicing your own intro seems reasonable. Okay, plenty of podcast and radio shows opt for this route. But it quickly gets boring, particularly, if the voice is not effective in holding the listener's attention.

If it's absolutely necessary, consider having a mix of voices in the intro. Let the host speak first, then a voice-over artist can speak, for instance:

Host: “The AAC party holds demonstrations today. NASA lands an astronaut on Mars.”

(Drum Roll, Trumpet, and Fanfare sound effect)

Voice Over: “It’s the Yesterday Show with your super crazy host, Matt, the Anti Matter.”

Multiple voices make your intro different and entertaining.

#Mistake 3: The same old

I get it:

There are reasons why you may stick with the same intro. Maybe it’s very effective. Or you want to build a strong identity. It may be an expense producing another intro.

But for the regulars on your shows, the intro will become boring. It’s another 30 seconds they have to endure before the show starts.

Try experimenting with different intros. It can be the same intro with up to 3 variations. But if you must repeat your intro make it very short. Your listeners might not get annoyed if it’s 5 seconds or 10 seconds.

#Mistake 4: Not professionally produced

I have encountered intros where the host starts by clearing their voice or pausing to collect their thoughts. That's not professional at all.

It would be better if the intro featured a voice artist introducing the host. It even gives the host time to prepare their first words.

Tips to Make Your Radio Intros Rock!

This chapter is all about dishing out the best tips on creating effective radio intros.

First off, just because the intro is 20 or 30 seconds long…
…doesn’t mean that it’ll be easy to make.

If you spend several hours creating it and lots of effort, don't fuss as it’s worth it. You’re not wasting time.

#1: Download a Podcast App On Your Phone

Why is this the first tip?

ANSWER: You need to listen to as many intros as possible.

REASON: Just as good writers like Stephen King, read as many as 100 books in a year, listening to other intros helps you develop an intuitive feel of what works and what doesn’t.

Have a pen and paper so you can take notes.Write down the weaknesses and strengths in each podcast or radio intro.

If you allocate the next 30 or 60 minutes for this exercise, you’ll be well prepared when you sit down to create your intro.

For shows that start with ads, don’t skip them. Endure them so you can know how your listeners feel, and see how you can minimize their pain.

#2: Short Intros are Sweeter

Short intros are better than 2 or 3-minute intros.

The intro section is not the main event, so keep them brief and light.

It doesn't matter if you bought the best royalty-free track, hired the best voice artist or commissioned a theme song – regardless, keep it short.

#3: Don’t worry about explaining everything

Summarize what's coming up in the show and don't give away a lot. For instance, if your show is one hour long, chop it up into 4 parts, then say in less than 30 words, what’s happening in the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, and fourth quarter.

Listeners just want the highlights, so they can decide if the rest of the show is worth their time.

#4: Stir up some emotions

Humans are inherently emotional beings. We react to stimulus from our surroundings.

Listeners will react to your intro. Now, the question to ask is which emotions will your intro stir up in them?

“Anticipation, joy, pleasure or warmth because you sound so welcoming?”

#5: Involve your listeners

Involve your listeners in your radio intros. Make it clear that the show is all about them: 

For instance, you can start by saying:

“On today’s show, meet 3 child prodigies smarter than the average college professor. Have you ever wanted to think like a genius? Or see the world through a new set of eyes? Stick around. I'm your host, Dash the Full Stop!”

#6: Stir up some emotions

You’re just from recording your show. It had peaks and valleys. Places where things got heated and interesting.

Maybe it’s when the host and guest disagreed on abortion. Or when your conservative guest said something controversial. Milk all the drama from that moment by featuring it in your hook.

Movies and TV shows employ this technique a lot. They show you a glimpse of the most contentious moment of the show and leave you hanging on a cliff.

Tease these bits in your intro. Just a 10-second segment extracted from the rest of the show will suffice.

#7: Use the three-act structure

First, you establish the characters. For radio shows, the main players are the hosts, guests, or callers.

Second, introduce conflict or complications. Just ask where did conflict arise during the show?

Third, raise the states. Tell us what the characters stand to lose or gain.

Lastly, tease the conclusion. How was the conflict resolved?

Here is an example to illustrate this point:

V.O. “Mark takes on the President of the Poultry Rights Association on today's episode.”


Mark (shouting): “I love eating chickens, I can’t quit the crusty, the juicy, the crunchy, the spicy treat. Never in a million eons.”

President: “How dare you say that? When 137 million chickens are slain every day!”

Raise the stakes:

Voice Over. “Will Mark abandon his bird-eating ways?”

Tease the conclusion.

Mark: “From this day henceforth I promise never to...”

V.O: “Which side are you on...?”

To reiterate: Present the characters, introduce conflict, raise the stakes, and tease the conclusion. It’s what movie trailers have been doing all along.

Exemplary Intros from the Broadcasting and Podcasting World

Let's check out some great intros. 

You should listen to as many intros as you can, also. 

#1: Ted Radio Hour

If you listen to the Ted Radio Hour, a typical episode begins, “Support for this podcast and this message comes from…..” After the ads, the show starts. And trust me I love to hear Guy Raz saying, “This is the Ted Radio Hour. Each week groundbreaking (Ted Talks, Ted talks, aah Ted, Technology Entertainment Design). Is that what it really stands for?”

Why do I like it?

It’s interesting; because of the multiple voices and clever editing. It’s informative as you hear the show's name, and get to learn what it means, and what it’s about, “Groundbreaking talks delivered on Ted stages around the world.” After the intro, Guy Raz begins the episode by asking the listener a question or sometimes starts off in the middle of a call.

#2: The Ben Shapiro Show

Here is an example of an intro voiced by the host. In the first seconds of the intro, Ben Shapiro teases the listeners on what’s about to come, for instance, Episode 851 Titled: When Everyone Is Hitler starts, “A Washington Post columnist decides that Hitler had a dog, you have a dog, therefore you’re Hitler. James Comey….”

Nine seconds into the show, the host introduces himself, “I’m Ben Shapiro, and this is the Ben Shapiro Show.” Then you hear a 4-5 second jingle, and in under 20 seconds, the intro is done. Ads follow the intro, which is also great.

Why do I like it?

There is no ad at the start of the show. You’re immediately told what to expect if you stick around.

#3: Stuff you should know

I like the intro from The Rubik’s Cube Episode. It starts with an ad that takes up the first 45 seconds. Then the intro kicks in, and it’s a lady doing the narration over a music bed. “Welcome to stuff you should know, a production of iHeart Radio...”

Why do I like it?

The voice-over is done over a music bed that’s catchy without drawing attention from the speaker. It’s also short – minus the ad.

Why do I like it?

The voice-over is done over a music bed that’s catchy without drawing attention from the speaker. It’s also short – minus the ad.

#4. Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations

If you’re looking for a simple introduction that just works, listen to the Super Soul Conversations Podcast. The intro is just 22 seconds long, and it starts with an uplifting & inspirational music bed.

The first words are, “Hi, I’m Oprah Winfrey, welcome to Super Soul Conversations, the podcast. I believe the most important gift you can give yourself is time. Taking time to be…”

Why do I like it?

The music bed compliments the message. It builds an atmosphere of trust, and just from the intro, you realize that you’ll gain wisdom and inspiration.

#5: Star Talk Radio

Are you waiting for an example of a radio show or podcast that went all-in with their intro? Star Talk Radio Show with Neil Degrasse Tyson. The intro is voiced by a voice actor, and there is a catchy theme song.

Why do I like it?

It’s unique and memorable.

Where to listen:

#6. The Dressage Radio Show

The intro is professionally made. It starts with the sound of a galloping horse. An announcer gives a highlight of what's coming up. This segment is then followed by a jubilant intro track. The hosts then introduce themselves.

Why do I like it?

The intro has a classic touch. It catches and holds your attention. There is a mix of voices and the sound effect is very relevant. 

Where to listen:

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  • Winston
  • Updated September 23, 2019