Make Your Show Prep Locally Relatable

Radio talents’ excessive reliance on national show prep stories is like a drug addiction inflicting many performers.  It’s as if someone wrote “DJ’ing for Dummies” and said national show prep is all you need to succeed.

While we don’t see talents dropping their national prep subscriptions, the secret is how to use the prep—adapt it and don’t read the stories verbatim.

All the prep stories are from other parts of the country, like “a woman from Jacksonville” or from around the world, “a teenager in London yesterday.”  The premise may be fun or interesting, but no one cares about “foreigners.”  Instead, adapt it and make it your story.  Don’t mention the location of the story.  Or, creatively insert a local city or landmark in place of the location of the show prep story.  It’s more relatable to the audience when making it sound local.

One example is a young guy from Florida who ate a Big Mac a day for three years and lost 50 pounds.  Why say Florida?  Instead, say you heard about him at the McDonald’s on 4th Street to make it sound local.

What are other ways to localize show prep?

Establish a listener Facebook group where listeners can post their stories.  Be the facilitator and ask specific questions.  Start with telling your own story to give listeners an example.  Similarly, see what’s trending on social media and the popular topics with influencers.  Nextdoor is a great example of a local-focused social network with interesting stories every day.  Also, check out the messages posted at supermarkets and laundromats, and see the newspapers’ Letters to the Editor.

Observational show prep is one of the best avenues for getting local stories. Practice your listening skills at station functions and community events in your daily life. The art of eavesdropping is another good way to gather local stories.

Six tips for prepping your show:

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Or, in this case, hours of prep make the morning show run smoothly and help it sound perfect on the air!


  1. Prepare the day before. Preparation includes creating bits, scripting, recording, rehearsing, and planning enticing teases.


  1. Play your best-researched songs. Since less music is played in the morning than in other dayparts, play just your Power Hits.



  1. Over-prepare your show. Use every source. Find interesting things to share, especially about the local area.  Don’t feel guilty about leaving unused prep on the “cutting room floor.”


  1. Idea theft is OK. Avoid getting hung up on the pride of authorship.  If someone else has done something that works, it may work for your show.  “Borrow” like a banshee.  Success can be contagious.


  1. Don’t make fun of the music. Even if you don’t like it, understand it, or are tired of it, understand your target demo and why the station plays it. Learn to love the music you play and share that passion!


  1. Create great promos for your show.  After the show, prepare an enticing promo for the next morning’s show.  Promote a benchmark or interview at a specific tune-in time.  Funny morning shows need funny promos that mirror the show’s content.

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John Lund is President of the Lund Media Group, a radio programming, broadcast consulting, and research firm with specialists in all mainstream radio formats. 

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