Radio Show Prep – Why Do We Keep Talking About Prep?


Show Prep Isn’t Just Show and Go

So many people come into radio thinking that they can just turn up and do the job and do no radio show prep.   A good programme controller or programme consultant will tell you about prep and its importance to creating great radio.

So what is it presenters and producers should be doing with prep?

Do the Research

It’s not just looking through the newspaper or going to websites or indeed to the cut paste prep service.  It most definitely isn’t going into the studio with that material and reading it directly to air.  So many people read the weather or showbiz gossip direct from a paper as is.

Research is about finding something that relates to you and your listener.  If you’re going to talk about something on air it really does have to interest you, it has to spark something in you, and if not why bother?   Prep is about knowing your audience understanding what their wants and needs are. Understanding what makes the listener tick and what makes you tick and why are they listening to your show goes a long way to helping you prep.

Own the Content and Make it Yours

Make it yours and make it stand out.  There is a view that if people say they have heard something and you delivered as your news, then the listener is likely to credit you if they tell someone else about it.   Form a view on the subject matter, tell us why you think Cheryl is great even though some say she mimes, and don’t just say Cheryl clearly mimed on TV last night add something of you to the link.

Speak Like a Real Person

Never take the actual cutting or piece direct form the newspaper, website or live read.   Always readjusts for your style of broadcast. It is about making it about you and speaking like a real person and spoken English.

It is a Performance

Radio presentation is about performance, you are on stage and performing and many programmers ask you to make it count.  One programmer once said to me that they had spent thousands on getting me on air so I need to deliver when I open the mic fader.

One way of looking at it is most stations are lucky to have someone listen through just a few links.  The listener will be doing the usual busy and hectic things that occupy their lives; you have been invited in to that environment.

I know for example when I’m driving away from home towards work I lose the local station within a few records.   In addition I like to be entertained, informed and made aware of what’s happening in the world around me.

Therefore make it count.  If you’ve carried out the research you should be able to deliver.  Don’t just deliver a lame read out of the newspapers link.  Make it personal, make it yours and make sure it relates, entertains or educates your audience.  Are you changing their day by what you say?

What Else Do I Need?

You could also ask yourself about other elements to make a link work, why should it just be you and speech.  What about getting interactive with a caller either to start or end a link, could you include music, an audio cut or perhaps sound effects.  What about another presenter to create a cut about the story. A member of the news team could add authority while you add your spin to the subject matter.  You could make a dummy advert or a sketch with you playing out the characters or mimicking the event.

It’s Not the First Time

When you open the mic and are ready to deliver the link it shouldn’t be the first time you’ve heard it.  You don’t have to read it out loud, some do, but you should have rehearsed it in your mind.   It should be researched thought out and made from your heart it should be a performance that is real and about you.  That is why we talk so much about prep.

Does Formula One Need the BBC More Than the BBC Need Formula One?

Formula One – Should it Drop Free to Air Broadcasts?

According to Guardian Media Bernie Ecclestone has signalled that Formula One could drop free to air coverage of the sport. He explained that of the 25 million households in the UK Sky can reach 10 million while the BBC normally hits around 6 or 7 million.

I hope Bernie hasn’t got confused between reach and actual viewers or perhaps he is looking at further revenue generation.

Who is Watching?

How TV companies measure audience is interesting and strewn with the chance of errors in the numbers.  Take the BBC where viewing is measured in samples of around 5 thousand people, they upscale and extrapolate the sample and estimate the number of people watching a programme.  I would estimate a 2% plus or minus error which could be in the thousands.

Sky often use the amount of people signed up to a subscription to promote the value of their service but can they tell if you’re actually watching that subscription?

I’m sure Bernie hasn’t fallen into the trap of we know what they are watching.  Your Sky Box is certainly a superb piece of kit, via the phone line every so often it informs Sky of the channels you have switched on and how long you have had that channel on.

What they cannot tell is what you are actually watching.  How many times have you turned the TV off and left the Sky Box running on the channel or you walk in and find the kids have left the TV and Sky running where no one was watching.  Fact is they still have to carry out audience research.

Formula One Needs the BBC

So here is the nub of problem with Bernie’s suggestion of stopping free to air viewing.  Sky can say they have 10 million households yet the BBC on the other hand can say they have the opportunity to get into 25 million homes.  Each will have a percentage that will tune in.

Sky pulled in 1.02 million viewers for the season-opening race in Australia which is over 2 million fewer people who witnessed the BBC’s coverage last season.  Australian broadcaster Network Ten pulled in 1.4 million viewers for their free to air broadcast of the race.  The BBC pulled in 3.2 million viewers with their free to air highlights package of the same race and Sky had just over 8 hundred thousand for its live coverage.

Maybe this is more to do with money than actual viewers and I hope this goes the way of the sprinkler systems to wet the track and excite the races.

The question is without free to air coverage F1 could become very specialist and the potential of sponsorship albeit targeted could adversely affect F1’s revenue streams in the UK.  Doesn’t  less viewers equate to less opportunities to sell a product?

I have a feeling that Formula One needs a free to air BBC more than they need Formula One.

Martin Brundle the BBC-cum-Sky commentator got it right when he  tweeted: ‘Very happy SkyF1, BBCF1 (+ hopefully BBC5 live) had strong Oz F1 audiences. So important for British m/sport, Silverstone and F1 generally.’

Diamond Jubilee Pageant: Where was Dimbleby when you needed him?

The BBC’s coverage of the pageant yesterday was lamentable.  Who had the idea of pointless fillers with Tess Daly jiving in Battersea Park, John Sergeant on Westminster bridge not knowing how to use a microphone and telling the crowd ’cheer come on cheer’, and the stint with artists painting in the rain with Aneeka Rice – why?

I was confused about the studio shots with Mat and Sophie clearly looking sideways at TV screens of the shots I wanted to see – hello?  Has TV coverage descended to watching TV presenters describe what they are seeing and not showing the pictures – wait isn’t that radio?

Sophie Raworth’s sudden fake laugh to camera not realising she was already on was superb and laughable, after which every smile and pseudo laugh felt about as real as her continued suggestion that the Queen was smiling – No she wasn’t Sophie, and no matter how many times you say it.  In all reality The Queen looked a little glum, probably thinking like the rest of us – ‘Bloody Rain’.

Let us not forget Fearne Cotton interviewing WW2 vet’s while patronising and not listening to them and getting their names wrong ‘So Jim… er John… Er Jim’.  All the while we were watching Fearne fumble the Royal Barge passed under Tower Bridge and I began to wonder what I’d tuned in for.

The BBC’s coverage lacked the gravitas this historic event deserved; it should have been Dimbleby with his dry wit alongside knowledge from experts on all things Royal, London and The Thames chipping in to the conversation of the event.  We should have had a who’s who of the participants and perhaps some audio interviews with the people of the moment layered over the pictures.

Instead I found myself doing what my mum does and shouting at the TV – ‘Shut up and just show me the flotilla Ahhhh’.

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