Back To Basics

15 06 2011

Programming 101

So many Program Directors try to create GREAT radio stations before they’ve mastered the art of a GOOD radio station.  It sounds elementary, but as the old saying goes, “You have to walk before you can run.”  One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to “sprint” to keep up with the competition…that will just cause your station to stumble.  So what are the elements that comprise a good solid radio station?


Get the music right.  Unless you are a news/talk format, the number one reason listeners tune into your radio station is the music.  The goal should always be to be playing one of their favorite songs every single time they tune in.  If you have the budget to conduct research, do it.   If not, at least use some of the other tools that are available like Mediabase, charts and more importantly your gut.  Don’t be afraid to use your knowledge of the market and take a chance on a song that you believe will connect with your listeners.  Finally, play the hits!  More on this in my “Play The Hits” article.


There are varying levels of imaging your radio station and some of those just depend on your budget.  I would encourage you though, if you have to cut corners on your budget, DO NOT do it on your imaging.  The “personality” of your radio station is just too important.  Find a voice talent that fits the sound that you are looking for and do everything you can to secure an unlimited deal with him or her so that you don’t have to decide what you want to produce this month.  I would encourage you to produce the imaging yourself because only you can hear the station in your head.  If you don’t have time or that just isn’t your cup of tea, see if you have someone in-house that can do it.  You’d be surprised how many of your employees do good work.  The other option is to outsource it to a production company.  There are many very good ones out there, I personally use Studio 197.  The other piece of the imaging puzzle is a jingle package.  Jingles are the icing on the cake.  Can you get by without them? Sure.  As a matter of fact, some formats don’t call for them.  Again, if you decide to buy a jingle package, don’t skimp.  No jingles at all are better than a low cost jingle package that sounds bad.

Morning Show

Your morning show sets the table for the rest of the day on the station.  A fun, relatable, music driven morning show plays a major role in building a solid station.  Meet with them and critique them to make sure they are doing the service elements: time, weather, temperature, benchmarks.  So often, air personalities get caught up in worrying about being a comedian or coming up with witty parody songs and forget about the basics.  When the ratings come out, they wonder why they’re losing in morning drive.  One of the number one reasons listeners tune in, especially in morning drive, is WEATHER.  How do they need to dress their child for school? If you aren’t giving them this info, they will find a station that is.


Building a winning radio station goes beyond a great morning show and a cool sweeper you produced.  The radio stations that understand the idea of getting out in the community are the ones that begin a friendship with their listeners.  Unfortunately, many jocks think their job ends when their airshift is over.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  You have to find ways to put your finger on the pulse of your community.  Partner with organizations for events, find causes that mean something to you personally and volunteer, speak at the Kiwanis meeting, etc.