How to start a radio show
Figuring out how to start a radio show? Relax, because it is so simple!
Why do I sound so confident? Well, thousands of people have done it. And thousands more will do it.
Plus, we have some great tips in today’s blog post. But first, you must be ready to:
Put in the work. Give it your 100%.
Never quit so easily, because you’re a fighter!
And with that pep talk, let’s start:
What is a radio show?
It’s an audio program broadcasted live to listeners. The listeners tune in to the station via its FM or AM channel, satellite, online stream player, mobile app, etc.
Radio shows can be a onetime affair. Or your show could have recurring episodes.
Wait…do you create need a radio station or just a radio show?
There are thousands of online radio stations. If a station is what you’re aiming for, learn how to create a web radio station.
If you plan to launch a single radio show that’s anywhere from 5 minutes to 4 hours long, let’s continue.
Also stick around if you want to learn how to start a podcast as the knowledge here is relatable.
I’m I qualified to create a radio show?
Yes, you are!
“What if I have a terrible voice!”
It doesn’t matter.
See, a lot goes into producing a radio show besides voicing it. Behind the microphone (since behind the camera doesn’t exactly fit our context), there are people actively involved in producing the show.
These hardworking talented folks include producers, researchers, fact-checkers, writers, etc.
The second reason I think you should do it is that…
Humanity has always needed to be entertained.
Even lives have been lost for the sake of thrilling the masses. Take the gladiator fights held in the Colosseum for hundreds of years.
Presently, and thankfully, lives are fictitiously lost on TV shows & movies. But far from the riveting subject of death, people also entertain themselves with podcasts, YouTube videos, social media, etc.
And when you’re entertaining:
Change some lives, please. Make someone’s day a little brighter when they listen to your content.
Inspire, teach, educate, empower, even shock & infuriate. And stir up emotions, don’t let your content be bland.
Who is the target audience?
In your mind, can you picture your ideal listener? For instance, my idea for a radio show would be a series titled: “Avocado the Royal Magical Fruit.”
For my Avocado series, my idealistic listener is someone passionate about improving their health, is fit, frequents the gym, and harbors a disposition to eating healthy.
I would want to appeal to moms who want their kids to consume more vegetables & fruits.
This is just my hunch. I could be wrong so I have to research with the aim of finding out if these people will like a 6 episode series on Avocados.
Find out what your target listeners know about your topic? Is it next to nothing? A lot? To do this, examine the information currently available on the topic.
Keep pace with your listeners. Are they a younger audience (age bracket of 18-24 years)? Most likely, they are already listening to shows with current hits, celebrity news, musicians and comedians as most of the guests, etc.
You have to be altruistic and serve the listener and not yourself. In radio or podcasting, the listener is king.
Steps to start a radio show
Choose a format & structure for your show
Radio shows notoriously adhere to set schedules. Or often focus on a particular type of content. For instance, here is how a morning drive show could be segmented:
07.50 AM Music
08.00 AM Traffic news
08.05 AM Ad break
08.10 AM Introduce morning guests
08.15 AM Music
Get familiar with broadcast schedules and know how to prepare a broadcast clock for your radio show.
There are many established formats you can delve into including:
Talk, adult contemporary, classic hits, rock, oldies, gospel, comedy, christian radio, radio dramas, sports talk, weather, education, free-form, conservative, progressive, documentary, among others.
Find a home for your radio show
Everything needs a home. Ants have nests. Bears have caves. Radio shows have studios.
There are two ways to go about this:
- Find a studio equipped with all you need
- Build your own small studio
You could find a friend or relative who owns a studio or has the audio gear. But most likely, renting is the only choice at your disposal.
Visit your favorite search engine, for instance, Google or DuckDuckGo, and search “Professional sound studios near me.”
In case interesting matches don’t pop up, refine your search phrase.
Just ensure that the studio has all you need and that you’re not booking a photo studio 🙂
“I want to have my own equipment.”
Great. Building your own small studio is a fun quest. And with many people such as podcasters & YouTubers finding themselves in need of audio equipment, there are many entry-level microphones, audio mixers, headphones, boom arms, and other parts for your choosing.
Visit Amazon, your local music shop, or other websites online to find what you need.
Your goal is to record the highest quality sound you can. Sound that is free from background noise, passing cars, wailing babies, etc.
For more tips, also check out our blog on radio station equipment.
Build a team
You can go it alone. And at first, it might be your only choice. But as you advance, build a great team.
But I don’t have money? Well, ask people to volunteer their time. Community stations are run by volunteers and there is great content there. So, find out how they pull it off.
Seek people that are:
- Honest – they promise to get the job done & then do it.
- Hand’s on – they know different stuff because they have experience with it.
- Filled with ideas.
- Some of your recruits should be keen on current trends such as social media.
Find your topic and come up with episode ideas
A radio show starts with an idea. For instance, I have the clever idea of creating a radio series on avocados. Yeah, the green super fruit. The next logical step for me is to ask WHY?
Simply because I like avocados. And millions of people love them but very few have insight into this royal fruit.
Next, I’ll generate a list of topics.
Title: Avocados the Royal Magical Fruit
Episode 1: The curious origins of the humble avocado
Episode 2: Conversations with home cooks and how they use the avocado
Episode 3: Tips & tricks: Avocado yummy recipes
Episode 4: Current superfood trends
Episode 5: National Avocado Day: The Holiday you never knew about
Episode 6: Where Avocados come from: The tale of the global fruit
Those are just my examples. You can make your radio show about any topic in the world. Just aim to spread credible & factual information to your listeners. That’s your mission, after all.
Booking your guests & Interview tips
Each person is a gold mine of knowledge. When you set up interviews and ask the right questions, you help them share their ideas, facts & experiences. Follow these tips to carry out the best interviews:
- Go for guests that you find interesting
- Book your guests early
- Prepare for your show and don’t wing it
- Be willing to listen intently to your guest. Give them your full concentration and seek to understand what they are saying.
- You can find more interview tips here.
Prepare your first radio show script
When you’re trying to figure out how to start a radio station, script writing is part and parcel of this process.
“But should I script my shows? That’s cheating!”
Well, no. Most of the entertainment you watch or listen to is scripted. It is the professional way.
Now, I’m not saying that every word that gets said is first written down. Except for most movies or radio dramas, perhaps.
But in the act of preparing for your radio show, you may have talking points written down, ideas carefully outlined, jokes, etc.
Coming up with super original things to say spontaneously is hard. Even the world’s best comedians have routines.
The creative process is a process. Your thoughts need time to form, grow and mutate.
Learn more about preparing radio scripts.
Tips to present your radio show
Talk directly to your listener. Shine with your personality because listeners want to connect to you directly.
Don’t go as far as becoming a talking caricature, be authentic.
Have high energy during your presentation. Let it infuse your colleagues, guests, and your fans.
If you’re dully and boring, how do you expect to rouse emotions?
Enunciate every word clearly. If you can find ways to incorporate listeners to your shows, go for it!
People are always curious about what fellow fans think about the show. Social proof.
“I’m I the only loony who listens to this crazy show?” A question like that might be loose in their mind.
So have your fans call in or send their questions through social media.
Check out more tips on becoming a great radio host.
Producing a radio program – the technical side of things
Producing a radio show entails both audio and creative production.
For audio production, the role entails recording, audio editing, adding sound effects, music bed, speech, jingles, promos, etc.
The creative side has to do with researching the topics, finding callers, writing scripts, etc.
“So how can I become good at audio production?”
You just have to do it to become good at it:
First, try working with different audio recording & editing software like Audacity.
Know where to find sound effects, music beds, royalty-free music or paid music sources.
And each time you start the show…make sure you’re recording it. You will be a lot safer if you can record and save more than one copy in an external hard disk or Flash disk.
You don’t want any blue screen error pages taking your effort away. And you might accidentally delete your original recording.
Know how to operate the broadcasting desk even if you’re the host/interviewer.
There is a lot that goes into creating a perfect sounding radio show:
Instead of hopping from one tutorial to another might I suggest that you find a course that can teach you all the steps of audio recording & editing from A to Z.
Distribute your radio show
Syndication is a popular way to distribute your show to existing radio stations.
What is the first step of syndication?
First, you need to produce a marketable demo. You can send this demo to program directors – who are in charge of the content that gets played on air.
Secondly, you can find websites online dedicated to connecting radio show producers to radio stations. For instance, On Air, Key Networks, etc.
Also, remember that you can offer your show for free to a radio station.
Some syndicated content is offered on a bartered agreement where instead of cash, the show’s producer may ask for time to run ads.
You may also distribute your radio show as a podcast series. Many radios including the BBC create podcasts.
- Creating a website for your radio show
- Creating social media pages e.g. on YouTube, and then upload footage from your show.
More resources & final send off
And remember you need to work hard to pull this off!
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