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Radio Show Prep is not scripting out every word of your program in advance.

It’s not following a formula or a blueprint from which you dare not deviate.

Show Prep is having a game plan.

I know there are a few misguided souls in our business who think “preparing” is “unprofessional.” That “a real pro” adlibs everything.

If you look at Radio not as just a “job” but as a profession, then there’s one fact you must face:

All professionals prepare…across all professions.

Preparing is professional, because preparing is caring.

Preparing is caring enough about your listeners that even if you’re having an “off day,” your show still meets a fairly high level of entertainment value, interest, and relevance to your listeners’ lives.

Great radio personalities occasionally have bad breaks….Bad moments….Bad ideas….But never bad shows. Because they prepare.

And the truly brilliant “spontaneous” performers — the great ad-libbers, the outstanding improvisational performers — will be the first to tell you that the more prepared you are, the more risks you can take.

Show Prep is your safety net.

You try something new, on the spur of the moment, and it works? Great! Run with it. You might never return to the rest of your day’s prep.

But if you try something completely spontaneous and untested and it flops — No problem. You’ve got your safety net to return to.

Real Show Prep allows and even encourages spontaneity.

Radio is the easiest thing in the world to do badly. That’s why there’s so much of it.

Bad radio is easy to do….While good radio is fun to do.

The more you prepare, the more fun you and your audience can have together.

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  • D. Hennessey September 22, 2011, 2:57 am

    I still record or write down my remarks, ideas…etc, going about my daily routine…watching t.v., interactions with others, news, shopping, gossip, road conditions…much easier to prepare the little breaks.

  • Coppelia September 23, 2011, 10:06 am

    Thanks for the reminder that good show prep encourages spontaneity. This can even apply to married couples. You sometimes get so busy, you have to plan fun & dates on the calendar. But even if it’s planned, you can still make the “content” of the date spontaneous and fun!

    I have also found it helpful to write down what I’m going to say, but not necessarily as a “script.” It just helps me to get the thoughts out & organize them before I open the mic.

  • Di Rice September 28, 2011, 12:50 pm

    Great article, Dan! Feels good to have my sentiments echoed. I work part-time at a radio station, and F/T DJs actually laugh at me because I come in early to do show prep. Here’s the thing: the last thing I want to be is boring, or bored. I don’t want to read liners verbatim, since we are allowed to put things in our own words, and we are allowed to talk about the music, and topical, relevant things…to me radio is not just a job to stroke my ego, it’s truly a profession! Thanks for the reassurance that I am doing the right thing!

  • Dan O'Day September 28, 2011, 1:08 pm

    @Di: In my radio talent seminars, I warn people that if they consistently show up for their shows with their show prep in hand, there’s a chance that some other jock will ridicule them:

    “Oh, isn’t that cute? You’ve got your little show prep. Y’know, REAL pros don’t need to prepare. We know how to ad-lib.”

    That kind of remark never is made a truly successful radio personality. It’s always from some guy (always a guy) who’s been in radio for many years and doesn’t have a thriving career to show for it.

    Often it’s someone who worked in a larger market for five minutes, couldn’t cut it, and now is back in smaller market…and bitter.

    That type of person is threatened by you. If you always do your show prep and he never does, that must mean (he thinks), “Either I’m lazy or the guy who does show prep is stupid.”


  • James Rabe November 6, 2011, 1:27 pm

    Years ago, I was working FT in Southern MN and we had a part-timer that came in an hour early, photocopied the music log, grabbed the newspaper, wire copy and his egg timer and he hid in an office, doing show prep for his 6 hour Saturday shift. He knew which liners he was going to run, what his live promos were going to be and what his non-station content would be for each break.

    He was the only part timer we had that sounded good every hour, every weekend. I wish I could remember his name…would like you know where he is now and what he’s up to. If he stayed in radio I assume he’s running a kick-butt show somewhere.

    It was a good reminder to me that every shift is important. I couldn’t stand the idea of a part-timer out working me, so I started prepping my weekend show, too.

  • Eric White November 6, 2011, 2:24 pm

    When Laughed at I say Leno is Prepped if not scripted hell WWE is scripted some of the best one liners in the world. Heck there is a reason the names that don’t prep are just that names nobody remembers. Thanks for the reminder I need to go prep tomorrow mornings show….

  • Thom Richards November 7, 2011, 8:29 am

    Research to help with relevance in your region is key and as regards scripted vs. spontaneity: it’s amazing how often a tidbit you just found on the web works really well into the next intro, break or somewhere in the show that day.