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How To Present On The Radio....

Paul Denton in the studio showing how to present on the radio

The art of radio presentation

After spending over 28 years presenting shows on radio stations in the UK here is my list of tips on how to present programmes on the radio.

Always be prepared, never walk into a radio studio with a blank canvas. You may be creative and can think on your feet but this approach will be your downfall in the end. There are many showprep sites on the web that can give you ideas for show content or supply you with a daily bunch of topics, gags and news stories. If you decide to use this material don't just read it off the page take it as a basic starter and build upon it and craft it in your own style. Check out my Showprep Page for some basic free information.

Mention the station name at least every 15 minutes. Some stations require this to be done during every link to be in the minds of listeners when survey time comes round. If playing 3 songs back to back then a sweeper ID is played between each song.

Be Local - learn about the area that you are broadcasting to. Sound knowledgeable about the area, check pronunciation of place names if unsure. Have a drive round the area that you are broadcasting to, look at the local landmarks so when you mention the local football club you know what you are talking about.

Be topical, or trivial, or relevant - (or all three!!!)

Look after your support staff, treat news/sport readers with respect. They are not an intrusion on your programme. Listeners tune in for this information as much as they do to listen to you.

Smile when you're talking, this may sound a strange thing to do but it's been proven to make you sound happy and nobody likes listening to somebody that sounds bored.

Try to put your personality into your links - talk about yourself and things that have happend to you. You are the listeners friend and they like to know how you are and what you have been doing. Building a realtionship will give them a reason to tune in to listen to you.

Paint pictures - make use of imagery on air - use links in a way that paints a picture in the mind of the listener. Use produced sound - edit live.

One thought one link - most listeners will only take in so much information at one go, if you hit them with three different items by the time they have heard the third they will probably have forgotten what you said at the beginning.

Shrink your link! - do not waffle, think about who you are aiming each link at, plan ahead and if you have nothing to say then just play the music, your audience will love you for it.

Example of a radio show clock

Radio show clock - a simple way to plan your show

Create a show clock for each hour and use it to plan out your features and what you intend to do. If you are presenting on a music station plan your features around the music. After you have added in news, sport, weather, travel, Q cards, competitions and scripts you’ll be surprised at how full it can get. A clear plan helps keep it all under control and keeps the show running consistently from day to day. Not having a clock and changing the features every day will just confuse the listeners who won’t recognise the show and you run the risk of alienating them.

Promote ahead and sell the next feature, competition, song, presenter or whatever it may be. You should always be looking to the next 15 minutes to keep your audience listening just that little bit longer.

Keep links short into breaks, use Q cards or teasers to features or strong songs that are on the way in the next 15 minutes.

Listeners are jumping in and out of your show all the time and will probably not have been there from the beginning. Think about new listeners that might be joining for the first time on your next link. Don't be afraid to recap if you're in the middle of something so they can instantly join in and won't feel left out trying to work out what's going on.

Always monitor off air as listening off the desk does not portray what is being transmitted. The station may have a fault and gone off air and you're carrying on doing fabulous links that are going nowhere.

Try to do a voice link every two songs but this will probably depend on your stations policy. Too many links will get in the way of the music and you will become annoying. Use short regular links not long spans of music and then 4 minutes of speech. If you can get it said in 30 seconds the better.

Never talk out of breaks - play a station ID and straight to music. The listener may have just had to endure 4 mins of ads and doesn't want another 2 mins of presenter waffle.

Don't deliver the same links every time, vary your links and content. Sitting down before a show and working on your showprep should eliminate this.

Don't promote the next presenter too early it's a better idea to throw ahead to their first few songs then in your very last link you can say up next is Sam Smith.

Check new scripts Q cards, promos before reading on air - you don't want to be the one to find the spelling mistake or the line that doesn't make sense.

If the station is running a competition make sure that you understand any elements that may involve you.

Only talk about the weather that will immediately affect the listener. 8-10 hours ahead is ample - unless it's Friday and everybody is looking forward to the weekend or to a special event.

Don't put listeners on air unless you are in delay. This is very risky as you can't guarantee that they will not swear or say something libellous. You could record the conversation whilst a couple of songs are playing then if all is good play the piece out after the songs finish. At the end of the day it's you that could be in trouble for allowing something to go to air that breaks broadcasting rules.

Always prefade your tracks - do not trust your music scheduling computer to give you the correct information - this will also remind you of how the track starts and prevents the chance of you talking over the vocals.

If a song has a proper end then let it finish before talking, if a song fades, still remember that it's someone's favourite song before you destroy it! Do not talk over the beginning and the end of a song - this really annoys listeners especially if it is their favourite song.

Respect the music. Ask the question is it necessary to back announce every song you play especially if it's a really well known one. If it's new then that's fine but sometimes it might be better to throw ahead to a song coming up - and don't always make it the next one.

Have a studio log and list information you have given out in your show so other presenters can follow up on it or promote it for you. It's also useful for if a listener calls asking for the charity phone number that was given out 2 hours ago. You will have the information at your fingertips and you just made another happy listener.

Don't mention other radio stations or other station presenters even if they are in the news as this just gives the opposition free publicity.

Always make the station sound BIG, sound authoritative and friendly. Don't put listeners down, you need as many as you can get - remember that when the survey comes in, no listeners means no job.

Where a popular feature or show has been moved due to restructuring of the schedule, talk up the change at the old broadcast time, this obviously reminds regular listeners that they can still hear the "horoscopes/comic cuts etc. at ## o'clock" Always sound positive about the moves.

Do not cut short songs to insert a feature such as the news, it's bad and lazy that you can't be bothered to do a few sums. Learn the art of backtimimg so that you hit the news on time without cutting short somebodys favourite song. If your maths is not great most PC playout systems will do it for you or show if you are running under or over. If you're not sure ask somebody like the station engineer who can demonstrate how to get the best out of the system.

Never criticise the music because as far as the listener is concerned all the songs were chosen by you. If you don't like a particular song just ignore it, if you really do like a particular piece of music then say so.

Don't drop songs because you don't like them they have been carefully selected to take in a variety or criteria. Discuss the songs with your Programme Controller and if a song really bothers you an alternative can be substituted that still conforms to the music schedule parameters.

Make sure you're fully aware of the broadcasting codes and regulations. Read the Ofcom guides on the rules around competitions, local elections, libel, contempt of court etc. There's no excuse to say I didn't know you couldn't say that.

Remember to check social media and emails during your show. It could be you that has a major story or humorous item first.

And finally if you have something amazing to say then say it but don't be afraid to shut up. If you have nothing interesting to say then just play the music your audience will love you for it.


YOU....are an entertainer
YOU....are trusted
YOU....are a friend, on the radio, in the community, on the phone
YOU....are lucky!

NEVER abuse your position

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