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And the Laughs Just Keep on Coming!

His advice: Don’t just wing it

Morning radio. It’s a critical component in the success of any radio station. The mission is to recruit new listeners, while encouraging the existing audience to stick around throughout the show and the rest of the day. You need to be local, entertaining, informative, interactive and topical. It’s a tough job and, at times, can test the very limits of your creativity.

Waking up is hard, but a fun morning show will keep listeners awake and tuned in.

So how can you ensure that you have the edge in your market?

In a word: prep.

It’s amazing to me how many shows simply hope to wing it and achieve success. There are people who have the natural ability to host a show with nothing more than their wit and personality. But those individuals are rare. The rest of us need to seek out content constantly and find new ways to present it to our audience.

In my opinion, a morning show needs to be fun. It doesn’t necessarily need to be funny — but it definitely needs to be fun.

Over the years, I have encountered many announcers who try very hard to be funny. But humor is subjective. The best way to encourage more comedy is to look at the “morning show” versus the “morning man.” If the morning show sounds fun — it is almost guaranteed to garner a few more laughs, as well.

One way to increase the amount of laughs your show produces is by identifying your comedy target. To do so, your need to include these factors:

1. Visibility. Choose something or someone that your demographic is completely familiar with.
2. Merit. Your subject needs to be something that your audience wants or expects to be made fun of. You need to do the research to know what topics or people your listeners have an emotional attachment to and which ones are off limits.
3. Be Fresh. Find the topics that are new and fresh to your audience. Don’t hit them with the same old stuff you hear on any other station. Know your angle and know when a topic has lost its luster. Everything has a shelf life.
4. Be Local. Local content is everywhere. Anything can be turned into something if you give it room to breathe and time to develop. Read the newspapers. Watch your local TV station. Observe what’s happening around you. Know the major players in town and what they’re up to. It’s one thing to talk about what’s happening in Hollywood; it’s a completely different to talk about the mayor, the local weatherman, the guy who’s playing a sax downtown, etc. Local wins every time.
5. The Bit. Once you’ve found your target, what’s next? Whether it is a fake commercial, a parody song or a phone call or interview that’s been staged with a listener or guest, the key is to do something that is rarely heard or has never been done in your market. If you believe in the idea, give it the time it deserves.
6. Real. One thing you want to make sure you do at all times is to be authentic. If you are truly having fun and showcasing your personality, the laughs will naturally come. Laughter is contagious.

A key to ratings success is to create water-cooler talk in your market. By touching on the things that your community is already making fun of, you’ll have an easier time including them in the joke and ultimately increasing the laughs (and listeners) your show gets.

Gary Begin is the founder and president of Sound Advantage Media, a radio programming consulting firm. He has more than 30 years of radio programming experience.