In a time when radio personalities have to make every talk break count, a daily showprep service allows morning shows to focus on creativity, Francis Currie says.
The consultant initiated Show Prep to help radio personalities & producers who want to work smarter. It helps morning show teams to work harder on the right things, like engaging their listeners online after entertaining them on air, or optimizing their format clock and speech breaks along the lines of people’s tolerance threshold (which is shorter than you might expect).
“Kidd Kraddick was a great performer”
Present authentic & immediate entertainment
In part 1 of this interview with radio consultant Francis Currie we talked about how to position your morning show (and reposition your competition) by being different. We’ve seen that morning shows are a sub brand of the radio station and may enhance – but should never damage – the main brand. Hence the importance of structured breaks and optimized content, for which The 5 Star Hour formula is a practical guideline. As listeners want real people and immediate entertainment, personalities are more important for radio than ever. We have learned how to build a great morning show team from several different, but compatible characters. Even if they have a great team, morning jocks are under pressure to make every break count. Especially in competitive markets, where PDs and GMs push for the highest ratings.
While listeners have more choice, radio has lesser resources (except for the lucky few stations with deep pockets). Fortunately, you can produce creative radio each & every day. Creativity techniques and showprep resources can help a lot. Before discussing them, we’ll talk about how morning radio evolved over the years, and about what we can learn from some of the world’s most successful, entertaining or creative morning shows.
Build long-term personality image
The late Kidd Kraddick said that personalities should not only focus on triggering audience response and creating shareable content on a daily basis, but also think long-term. His advice was to do one thing per quarter that your listeners remember, and one thing a year that makes you legendary. From all morning shows you’ve heard in all the radio markets you consult in, what are the Top 3 morning shows that successfully use this philosophy?
Francis Currie: “Kidd Kraddick was a great performer and will be missed by many people. He is someone that I often quote when working with morning show teams, because he understood the need to not just entertain on a daily basis, but also stamp a long-term image with both listeners and non-listeners.”
“It is an incredible model of excellence”
Listen to other shows
Currie mentions 3 English-speaking morning shows that radio personalities should aircheck. He finds these to be consistently entertaining and memorable:
“It is an incredible model of excellence. Elvis Duran started presenting the Z100 morning show in 1996 and the show is still improving! Pay attention to their way of telling stories, using characters, and selecting and treating content. It is no wonder that the show is now syndicated to almost 70 markets in the United States.” [See also: Interview Elvis Duran: “I’m Just Into My Own Thing”]
“Ed and Rachel present a tremendous show. They don’t have profile internationally, as the show is outside London and is not syndicated, but they have a great authentic chemistry with each other and with the audience. Both know their listeners and area incredibly well, and are consistently entertaining with good observations, powerful interactions and great sense of pace and timing.”
“Kyle & Jackie O have a show that you will either love or hate, as it can be opinionated, undisciplined and brash. It’s much less consistent than Elvis Duran or Ed & Rachel, but their show is packed full of ideas and has a rough & ready energy.” In addition, they have strong local roots as well: “It can really capture the spirit of Sydney”. [Update: Kyle & Jackie O are now heard on KIIS 1065, formerly known as Mix 106.5.]
“Get on, get to the action, and get off!”
Limit breaks to 2’00”
In your view, how has breakfast radio evolved over the last decade, and what does it mean for today’s morning show presenters and producers?
“Three things immediately come to mind: pace, quality and social media. First of all, everything is faster. As a morning host you have to get on, get to the action, and get off! Shows have to be very disciplined about content duration.” Currie learned from content testing that radio listeners have a tolerance threshold of 2 minutes, which is half of the 4-minute mark based on PPM research in Denmark (see: 10 Ways To Increase Listeners’ Attention Span & TSL). “After 2 minutes, the audience interest is dropping very quickly. Even if the content is well-chosen, the treatment well thought-out, and the performance good. By then, your break either needs dramatic new input or a good pay-off.”
Another aspect is quality, rather than quantity – making choices about what to do and what not, based on clear standards. The radio consultant thinks that now, more than ever, every talk break counts. So presenters should make every bit of content sound entertaining, interesting and useful (or at least accomplish of those 3 goals). “The morning show ratings battle is won ‘one break at a time’. Every single break should add value to the listener.”
Interact with listeners online
Radio personalities should not only work hard on their shows, but build stronger and deeper connections with the audience. Currie finds social media to be a very powerful tool – not just for content research & development, but also for show promotion and relation building. Based on how it’s done in several countries and markets, he feels there’s a lot of potential for improvement. “Many shows still use social media badly, with no real thought or strategy on the activity.” His advice is to plan every social media post as carefully as every morning show bit, because that’s what the most successful radio personalities are doing. [See also: Social Media Run The Radio Show]
“A classic creative technique is
to get new stimulus and experience”
5 creative radio tips
What if you don’t have a ‘zoo crew’ and just a small team of presenters and producers – or if you’re in a small market without any team, where you have to rely on yourself? What are the best sources of inspiration to present interesting, entertaining and useful stuff each & every day?
“Smaller teams and tighter budgets are a reality in many markets, so this is an important question. If you don’t have a big production team around you then you have to work smarter, because you can’t work in the station 12 hours a day and still expect to come up with fresh, exciting, creative ideas.” Francis Currie offers 5 recommendations for more creative radio that anyone can use anywhere:
1. Get a life!
“The best content often comes from real life. Very little of it comes from inside a radio station. Presenters have different techniques for recording observations to turn into content. Favorites include leaving a message to yourself on your mobile, sending yourself an email or jotting down the thought.”
2. Use social media
“Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are all fabulous resources for finding content and testing ideas. “Don’t be afraid to use social media to share highlights of today’s show and create tomorrow’s morning show. You’ll be amazed about the quality of the feedback and input, if you pick the right topic.”
3. Get new input
“A classic creative technique is to get new stimulus and experience. From driving a different way to work to shopping in a different mall; from reading a different magazine to going to a different bar, these are all ways to break habits and see the world with a fresh pair of eyes.”
4. Keep unused ideas
“If you don’t use all of your material planned for one show, keep it for another. It might sound obvious, but a lot of people just don’t do it!” It might be smart to organize inspiration, like keeping a notebook or digital file to store ideas, so this archive material can be used anytime when needed.
5. Use pre-written showprep
“Why try to do everything yourself when you can have a virtual team working for you? To address the issue of more pressure and less resourcing for presenters, I’ve launched a prep service, Show Prep. It delivers topical showprep to give radio presenters more time to be creative with it.”
“Take all the hard work out
of sourcing material”
Use radio-optimized showprep material
There are several different showprep services out there. How’s this one different from the outset?
“We have put a lot of thought into Show Prep to make this service useful and user-friendly. It is radio prep, written by radio people and for radio people. Our chief writer gets up at 2 AM every morning to ensure that all showprep is fresh and topical. All material is laid out in sections so that the content is easy to navigate, and all copy is written for speech. We have regular editorial meetings to review the service, and have just completed the first subscriber research survey.”
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback in the research, but I especially loved this user’s comment: Show Prep has really helped me to enhance my show. I was skeptical, but now I’ve tried it out I am really satisfied with the results. The survey results and bizarre stories are fresh and interesting, the showbiz and music news is up to date, and it’s presented in an easy-to-view package. I absolutely love it.”
Choose most relevant content
Is this showprep service useful for any format and any target demo? Meaning: listeners to an Oldies-based AC have other lifestyles, interests, aspirations, values, beliefs and identities than the audience of a Top 40 station.
“Show Prep’s ‘Daily Edition’ delivers over 25 pages of material every day, which means that you are given way more ideas than you could possible use in a show. You can select the topics that fit both your own personality and the needs of your audience. Radio prep services like this one take all the hard work out of sourcing material.”
“Get insights and ideas
about radio programming and promotions”
Apply showprep as resource
Unlike other radio show prep services, this is not market-exclusive. How can you let content that your competitors could access as well, sound unique on the radio?
“The truth is that every radio presenter has moments when they have to grab a prep sheet and read it to get through a break. This show prep tool can help with that, but the real value is in using it as a resource. All topics are pre-filtered and prepared for you, so that you can then select and develop the content that’s best for you and your audience.”
“Here’s another subscriber comment from a recent survey that answers that question perfectly: I use Show Prep every day and it’s essential to my radio broadcasting. A prep sheet takes the strain of having to trawl through endless newspapers and over the web, when I can get it at the click of a mouse. It doesn’t make you sound like everybody else that uses it, because it’s all in the delivery!”
Enjoy additional membership bonuses
Show Prep members will also be getting several bonuses in the near future. What can they expect?
“The free bonuses are rewards for subscribers. They get insights and ideas about different aspects of radio programming and promotions”, Currie promises, mentioning the following incentives that are either online now, or will be uploaded soon:
- Eleven Lessons from Elvis: how Elvis Duran & The Morning Show stays on top and continues to get better (e-book)
- Seven Secrets To Supercharge Your Radio Show: how to use show prep to help you raise your ratings and reputation (e-book)
- Morning Show Presenters Tactics: how to secure your position of being a morning host on the same radio station for at least 10 years (webinar)
This showprep service covers anyting from news headlines to showbiz gossip, and from interesting facts to topic ideas. Although some of the content is UK oriented, many topics can be localized or adapted – and there’s a great deal of content that can be used in any market. “I would encourage anyone to sign up for the 7 Day £1 Show Prep trial”, Francis Currie concludes. “Subscribe for £1 and you can try out Show Prep for a week to discover what a practical and powerful service it is.”
Radio))) ILOVEIT occasionally highlights products & services that we believe to be interesting or valuable for you. When you opt in for this showprep service through us, we’ll receive a referral commission. This will be invested in further development of Radio))) ILOVEIT, so you’ll get more free inspiration & resources to make even better radio. Thanks for your support, and for trying Show Prep!