In principle, radio presenting seems relatively simple. All you have to do is talk so how difficult can it be?!
Well there is a lot more to it than initially meets the eye and far more to it than most listeners appreciate.
The ultimate challenge for all radio presenters is to make more people listen to you for longer. You will not achieve this if you talk about the first thing that you think of with no prior preparation or planning. Engaging, relatable, fun content that will impact with your listeners and have them texting and calling your show will not just happen. You need to work at it.
Presenters may sound like they are talking about the first thing that comes to mind and maybe some do, but the very best don’t!
A good analogy is to think of a comedian stepping on stage with no jokes and stories planned and expecting to engage and make the audience laugh with whatever content springs to mind. Chances are it will not happen for them and it will not happen for you.
Start with asking yourself these 3 questions before you produce and deliver any content on the radio:
- WHAT is the point?
- WHY am I doing it?
- WHO cares?
And make sure you know the answer to these 3 questions before you deliver any content in your show. This will help you deliver radio that is relatable and engaging to your audience. Any radio you do think of your audience and ways to include them. What do you want them remember and react to?
Always be relatable, always be engaging. A link with a purpose and a point will always be more engaging than a link with no direction.
Keep it short. Keep it simple. The golden rule is radio is “one thought, one link” If you have too much information in your link (radio term for when a presenter talks) you will confuse your listener and you could lose their attention. The best analogy is to think of your link as a shopping list. If you go to the shops and try to remember 10 items to buy you will forget a few on the list. If you have 3 items on your list you will remember them all. The shorter and simpler the link the easier it is for your listener to engage with what you are saying.
Plan your links
- How are you going to start the link?
- How are you going to get into your content?
- How are you going to end your link?
The last question is the most important of the 3. It is key that you plan how to get out of your link. How do you get out of what you are saying into the next song seamlessly? A good link can be undermined by the lack of planning in how to end it.
Learn from a very early stage to not talk over songs. This really does annoy listeners. If the song has a solid end and doesn’t fade then simply wait for it to end. This sounds so much better than crashing the vocals. Every song you play is a listeners favourite song. Respect the music, respect your listener.
Learn to sell. If you present on a commercial radio station then one of your jobs will be to sell/promote either a competition or another show on the station.
You will do this by reading it off a piece of paper but the art is to sound like you are not reading it at all. It is very easy for presenters to sound like they are reading it and sound bored while doing so. If this happens then the impact of what you are saying is lost on the listener. So pre-read any scripts, get to know what you are selling and either sell it without a script or write little bullet points to guide you. Learn to bring your scripts alive off the paper.
AVOID DJ-isms. Or cheesy radio talk. Listeners do not need to be told to turn up the radio if you’re playing a song they love. They know to do this already. When you play a song from years ago please do not describe it as a blast from the past. One rule to consider is if you do not say it in real life do not say it on the radio.
You can only learn to do all of the above with practice, practice and yet more practice. This is where hospital/student/community/internet radio is vital. It is the perfect platform for you to practice, gain experience and to fine tune your presentation style.
You need to find out what kind of a presenter you are. Are you a presenter that is good at talking about yourself, your life experiences and funny little observations? Are you a presenter that is comfortable just talking about the songs you are playing? You need to find out what your comfort zone is, what your strengths and weaknesses are as a presenter and you will still need to work on both.
Train your “radio ear”. Listen to lots of different styles of radio presenters both on local and national radio. Listen and learn from what you think sounds good and what doesn’t sound so good. The best presenters instinctively know what works on the air and what doesn’t and they know this from listening to lots of radio.
BE YOU! Listen to your radio idol, learn from your radio idol but do not try to be your radio idol. Radio already has them but does it already have you?
Record every bit of radio you do. Do not let any radio go to waste. Record it, save it, listen to it, learn from it. And this includes shows you are not happy with. Listen back to your show in real-time and like training your radio ear, listen and analyse what worked and why and what didn’t work and why.
And the most important tip, have fun on the air and enjoy it. You never ever know who is listening to you. On the day you have a bad day and you sound bored and fed up on the air could be the day a programme controller from another station is listening to you for the first time. Your show is your best time to shine and show off what you can do so make the most of it.
So, back to the question. All you have to do is talk so how difficult can it be?!