The #1 Rule in Radio

I’ve decided that an unwritten rule finally needs to be written.

Let’s cut to the chase. Here’s the #1 rule in radio: Yield to the host.
photo credit: theakshay via photopin cc
For whatever reason, many people lose sight of this simple, yet vitally important rule. It’s not created out of arrogance. Rather, it’s a function of the need to promote maximum efficiency in a program. It’s also there so that the best possible content can be created in a live environment. Scheduled breaks have to be taken, topics need to be covered, and points need to be made. None of this can be done without someone being designated as the leader. In radio, it’s the host.
No matter what role you play in a radio program, this rule always applies to you. Let’s take a look at some specifics:
  • The peripheral personalities. Most live radio programming involves at least a few different people playing supportive roles to the host. This could be a traffic reporter, meteorologist, news reporter, producer, or just “the other guy”. But all of these individuals should treat on-air conversation the same. Basically, they should play verbal hot potato with the host. Except the host is wearing oven mitts and can hold the potato as long as they want. As a peripheral personality, you need to make your comments as concise as possible and pass it back to the host as quickly as you can. Always let the host have the last word. Only speak if necessary to support what the host is doing. Anything else will damage your relationship with the host, and make you sound overbearing to the audience. Get the picture? Yield to the host.

  • The guest. You’ve been invited to participate in a radio program. Consider it a wonderful privilege! Have as much fun as you can on the air. But above all else – yield to the host. Let them mention the name of your book. Don’t plug your website unless they ask you to do so. When asked a question on the air, be sure to respond as efficiently as possible. Don’t say anything that could embarrass the host. If you let them lead, things will go really well for you. You might even be asked back! [for more tips on being interviewed on radio, see my previous blog post on the topic]

  • The listener. One of the most difficult things for listeners to understand is that air time is extremely limited. It’s also very valuable. That means that if you call a radio station and make it on the air, you should use your time wisely. Think through what you want to say before the host takes your call. Don’t be afraid to jot down some notes if necessary. If you make your point or ask your question as efficiently as possible, you’ll sound great. And you’ll make the host supremely happy. If a host needs to cut you off, it’s almost always because they’re running short on time. It could also mean that they have lots of other listeners on hold waiting to share their ideas as well. Don’t treat your air-time as your moment in the spotlight – treat it as if you’re there to quickly share your thoughts, and then yield to the host.

If you end up on a radio show, you likely have lots of confidence and a big personality. You probably also have a ton of interesting things to say. But if it’s not your show, you’ve got to play by the rules. And the #1 rule in radio is the foundation for success in live programming. Yield to the host.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *