Broadcasting Pet Peeves

I hope you’ll add to this list. Some of these things are a little “inside” but some are recognizable to radio listeners who have no knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes. 

On the weekend, while punching through the dial, I heard part of an interview with a novelist whose book I decided I wanted to read. I’m pretty good with Google but it was difficult to find this guy’s work, even though I had committed his name to memory: Ed Rich. Here’s what I discovered. His surname is spelled with an e on the end AND he’s listed as an author under Edward! These things make a huge difference in a search. The host could have easily and quickly explained this had she – or her producer – thought about how a listener might react – ie. want to buy the book.

“Hello everyone!” This is the dumb thing I still hear hosts say on radio. It’s a microphone, not a megaphone. People don’t gather at the radio in groups. Many things have changed, but one thing is still the same – if you’re going to be successful on the radio, you need to master the art of talking one-to-one.

close-up o f a stereo system

“Interesting”. When I hear a host begin a monologue by describing what’s coming as “interesting” I shake my head for two reasons. I. Interesting is a vague, virtually meaningless description. 2. If you’re going to spend time talking about it, I should be able to assume that it’s of interest! As a listener, I will decide what it is, and I will use a more descriptive term than “interesting”. The same goes with good or bad, especially in news. Don’t tell me what to think. Just tell me.

Assumptions. Stations get new listeners all the time. The test is whether they will stay. So assuming that everyone knows who you are is not only arrogant, it’s a mistake. If your show has become a country club for a few insiders, you’re not doing your job. Identify yourself, your station, and what you’re talking about.

It’s not about you, except when it is. Radio hosts attract loyal listeners by sharing personal details and stories about themselves. But if there’s nothing in those details for a listener to relate to, or find amusing or surprising, it’s just more chatter. You’re not fascinating just because you’re on the radio. Great example: relaying the story of a friend’s opinion on a topical discussion doesn’t have to start with a huge setup of how you know this friend and why you were hanging out – unless that’s part of the story. Get on with it. There is so much boring blather on radio and so many Program Directors putting up with it. We need to demand better. There are so few of us left!

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