Radio Programming Sources & Syndicated Shows

Tending to the content steam engine at a radio station is a full-time gig.

You need a constant supply of fresh coals---audio content. 

Shortly, you’ll discover some new sources of free syndicated shows, bartered shows, paid shows plus free & paid music sources.

Just getting your foot in the broadcasting world?

No problem, you’ll also learn more about radio programming: 

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To see the full list of syndicated radio show sources, feel free to scroll down to that section.

Speech and music programming

Audio content falls into two types:

Speech programming – the name says it. It’s spoken content. If most of the content is speech, it’s a talk radio station.

Music programming – Do I have to unravel this one? Okay, it’s sweet music; jazz, hip hop, the Blues, Punk Rock, Alternative Rock, Folk, Popular Music, etc.

And when music content prevails, it’s a music radio.

Well, most listeners seem to favor a balance, some music, some speech, and that’s what most commercial radios prefer.

Even a talk radio might have some music segments during the evenings.

Radio day parts

The broadcast day is segmented into blocks starting with the morning drive from 5 am or 6 am to 9 am or 10 am.

That’s when most people listen to the radio as they commute to work. Hosts talk between music tracks (linking). Some will have weather announcements, do newscasts, phone-ins, talk about traffic, and run giveaways.

You can always think of the content as a percentage: Is it 50% music, 50% speech. Or 60% speech, 40% music.

Mid-day

Starting from 9 am or 10 am to 2 pm or 3 pm, mid-day hosts take over the airwaves.

Music is the main programming during this slot because people can passively listen to music as they work, while it will be a lot harder to pay attention to a very important debate.

But if you’re talk radio, what can you do? The talk goes on…

Afternoon drive

Then, we have the afternoon drive from 3 pm to 7 pm. Audience numbers soar again due to the evening commute.

Evenings & Overnights

Evenings start from 7 pm to 12 pm. Radios receive fewer tune ins since people are either watching TV, streaming shows, etc.

Overnights or if you prefer the more ominous name “graveyard” shift spans from 12 am to 5 am or 6 am.

Radio Content Sources

a) Station generated programming

The goal of the programming department at a radio station is to produce original on-air content.

For music stations, the radio personalities work in shifts that may be two, three or four hours long.

Popular examples include The Steve Harvey Morning Show that airs from 6 to 10 am and the four-hour Matt and Mollie Weekend Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 1.

On the other hand, talk shows are under sixty minutes. For instance, the Freakonomics radio show, This is America Life, etc. 

Newscasts tend to be shorter 5 to 15 minutes at the top of each hour.

So what content can we produce at our radio?

You can do newscasts, hosted shows, phone-in run shows, panel game shows, DJ mix shows, countdowns, contests, radio dramas, newscasts, weather announcements, man on the street segments, concerts, interviews, investigative pieces, and more!

b) User-generated content

The user is the radio listener; who may be a chef, nurse, doctor, teacher, banker, endocrinologist, pulmonologist, otorhinolaryngologist, and now I’m just googling professions with difficult titles.

Some users have a knack for producing original audio content. And the proof is in the numerous podcasts you’ll come across on the web.

If you want to learn more about using user-generated content, here is a great resource on the BBC Academy.

c) Syndicated Content

Syndication is licensing content to different radio stations. Who makes syndicated shows? Radio stations, media companies, or individual producers.

Are they are pros of using syndicated content?

You know how you could make your own bread in your kitchen. But you don’t since it’s much easier, less-expensive, time-saving, and yummier to just buy bread from the bakery. 

This metaphor explains the benefits of syndicated content.

Do I have to pay for syndicated content?

Some syndicated content is free. The producers may want their programming to reach as many people as possible.

And what better incentive to nudge radios to take up the show than giving it away for free?

Paid syndicated shows

It takes time and money to produce high quality shows so many producers can’t just offer shows for free.

What you pay may depend on the show’s popularity and demand. The notion is; if a show is popular, it will attract more listeners. So the radio can charge more money for ad-slots.

Bartered syndicated content

Cash doesn’t always change hands for content. Some syndicated content is offered on a barter arrangement.

The producer offering the show may ask for time on the affiliate station to run ads instead of money.

How can I spot bartered shows?

Check if one of the requirements listed on the show’s website is bartered minutes; for example “8 Bartered Minutes.”

Unhosted shows

Radio stations strive to maintain their local vibe. And though they may use syndicated shows to fill up their programming, they will still want the show to sound local & original.

Some syndication companies meet this need by having the original host mention the affiliate’s call letters and station ID.

Unhosted shows have empty slots. They ship with cue sheets used to prompt the live host when to fill in with speech. Most unhosted shows you might encounter will be music shows like top 40 countdowns.

Are syndicated shows same as network radio programming?

So what happens when several radios stations fall under the umbrella of one corporation? For instance, Emmis Communications which owns about fifteen radio stations in the US.

This may result in network radio programming where one program may air on several stations owned by the same parent company.

There is a similarity between syndicated shows and network shows. But I think the difference is clear. 

Where can I find free syndicated radio content?

Okay, here are places you can find free syndicated content for your radio:


1) NRT Radio Syndication

Do you operate a Christian or church radio? New Release Today has been offering free Christian radio content since o6. PS. They also cater to internet radio station

2) FrequencyCast Radio Programme Syndication

FrequencyCast offers syndicated shows to internet, hospital and community radios for free and on a non-profit basis.

3. ON AIR

ON AIR distributes shows created by artists. They ask for so little in return.

You have to provide feedback on how you use the shows; promote the shows to your listeners on social media among other requirements.

4) Public Radio Exchange

PRX is the largest distribution marketplace for radio shows. They rep some big names including This American Life and Reveal.

While public radio affiliates get their content from PRX’s automated delivery platform, advertisers can also use PRX to find shows to sponsor.

5. Vinyl Impressions Radio Shows

For six times in a month, you can get the Vinyl Impressions show for free.

The shows are generic, which means you can broadcast them at any time of the day.

More Places to find Free Syndicate Shows

More Places to find Free Syndicate Shows

There are as many free syndicated shows as they are stars in the sky. Well, at least wish there were.

Still, you can score more free radio content sources on these external lists:

6) The Radio Directory

It’s a links site where radio industry members can contribute links. Lucky for us, there is a page just for syndicated shows:

7) Intercollegiate Broadcasting System

Next. check out this list of news and radio programming sources curated by Randall Davidson a professional associate member of the IBS. It has over 100 radio content sources.

8) Radio Links

It’s also a radio links site also with a syndicated show list:

Bartered and paid syndicated sources

9. ORBYT Media

It’s a syndication group that distributes shows like On Air with Ryan Seacrest & American Top 40 Countdown in Canada.

10 GLR Network

It offers Spanish programming like Minuto 60 a five-minute newscast on a bartered arrangement.

11. Hispanic Communications Network

The network has over 270 Hispanic affiliated stations in the US that syndicate their six radio shows. Their shows have bartered slots.

12) This is Distorted

Music and speech shows.

13) Old-Time Radio Hour Wood Songs.

It’s a show about grassroots music syndicated in 515 radio stations.

14) Radio America

For daily and weekend talk programs.

15) Mid York Syndication

They are behind the Retro 80’s weekend show.

16) National Public Radio (NPR)

There is a little confusion as to how NPR works. NPR member stations are radio stations that air NPR shows. They are usually non-profit, non-commercial, public owned and college radios.

To be an NPR member, you have to meet certain requirements like broadcast for more than 18 hours a day and have at least five full-time employees. Affiliates pay yearly fees to NPR, which earns them voting rights, and they also pay fees for NPR programs they broadcast.

17) Public Radio International

PRI is a non-profit that distributes content to public radio stations.

18) Syndicast

Syndicast helps its members get their shows on radio stations. They work with Online, FM, DAB, and Satellite stations.

19. Radio Express

Discover weekly shows

20. Syndication.net

Syndication distributes shows and also helps producers prepare their shows for syndication.

21. Pacifica

Pacifica is a network of community stations. Using their web-portal –Audioport – the stations can distribute their shows nationally.

22. TOP 40 with a TWIST

It’s a two-hour un-hosted show.

23. The Dave Ramsey Show

It is a three-hour show with over six hundred affiliate stations.

24. BlueRevolution

Blue Revolution is also another platform with a variety of shows.

d) Paid Music sources

Are you looking for places to buy music for your radio? We covered some of the sources in a past blog. Iterating the same information here will take the joy out of discovering it for yourself. So check it out.

e) Royalty Free Music Sources

Royalty free music is music that you don’t have to pay royalties for every performance. Check out our blog on royalty-free music sites.

More radio programming...let us know

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