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the art of preparation (1)

December 3, 2021


Written and contributed by Kenny Wall of Partnered Programming and Clear Media Network Country Format Specialist and On-Air Talent.

Last week, America observed Thanksgiving, and tradition dictates that every home in the country should celebrate with a significant number of calories on the table; Turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans swimming in mushroom soup and topped with fried onions, yeast rolls, and about three different types of pie.

This meal requires more than a little aforethought. One thing that I learned from my momma, you gotta plan ahead. There is a lot of food to buy. It takes time to get it ready to eat in a safe and semi-nutritious way. And, if guests are part of the equation, it might be good family politics not to put Grandpa Mike next to his brother-in-law who hasn’t paid back that loan from back in 1984.

All of this requires careful preparation.

Good radio takes preparation, too. At Partnered Programming, our team of major market pros plan every show in every city we serve, just like we lived there. Preparation has become a lost art in these days of someone in San Antonio voice-tracking a show in Bangor. But not around our place. We practice preparation every day.

On any given weekday, I personally prepare for about ten shows in cities from coast to coast. It takes time but the results of our preparation set us apart from a lot of folks who don’t work quite as smart.

Whether you voice track or do your show live, I have a few tips from my playbook that
I don’t mind sharing. I hope that they are helpful to you and your station, but I mostly hope that they help your audience bond to your content.

In no particular order, here are Partnered Programming’s Preparation Policies:

1.) Do the work – Commit yourself to the process of doing what it takes to engage one listener. That’s right. I said one. While we may call ourselves broadcasters, we truly shine when we make that one-to-one connection that we all seek. Take that from Ted Lasso. Ted knows.

2.) Set up a system – I use an old-fashioned prep sheet; not the kind that you buy from a syndicator, but the kind that lets me combine all of my research, my show schedule and plan, and the beginning, middle, and outcue for every break, into one place. To accomplish this, I request the music log out front. Music is still the central focus of most of my clients, so it is important that I understand what a listener wants, the songs that I’ll spotlight, and the artists who perform them. It isn’t just the song; it’s a memory, some backstage insight, or just a feel-good message about the artist.

3.) Know your city – The people who live there and what they do for a living, what they love, and what they care about in their community. I need to know how to pronounce street names, and which local TV anchor hangs out at Tim Horton’s in Buffalo or Hurts in Springfield.

I need to know that Kelly’s store, Blooms in Motion, is right there by Driver’s Edge, where Pedro works. I have to be able to talk about the people listeners meet every day and why those people make their town special. If my listener doesn’t know them, I get the privilege of making the introduction and conveying why my listener should care about them.

I need to know the price of gas. It seems like a little thing, but California prices are not Texas prices, and I need to know where the Misery and Joy Indexes fall in each city. I don’t want to talk about the price of oil going up in a town affected by a huge spill off the coast.

I need to be present in every break. Are your personalities present? I hear live shows that might as well be simulcasted from Croatia. Don’t let that be what you’re known for.

4.) Take advantage of others – I love live reads. I know; most don’t, but I do. Live reads are excellent opportunities to localize my presentation.

I need cooperation from the market personnel. That means going the extra mile to communicate with the PDs and GSMs. It means chasing down other on-air folks to do pre-recorded crossovers with me to sound live, right before they take the reins, or I do.

These are just a few ideas for you. Sure, they’re basic and you would think that every on-air host would tackle them like it’s the two-minute warning and their team is up by two, but the other guys have the ball on the 4-yard line…but they don’t.

If you’re on the air, I urge you to embrace your own preparation right now. Don’t wait.

If you supervise voice trackers, make sure that you ask them how they prepare.

But if you supervise live talent and they aren’t willing and ready to do all of these things, call me at (918) 284-3540. I can help.

Written by Kenny Wall, Partnered Programming and Clear Media Network Country Format Specialist and Talent.

Clear Media Network is a 24/7 Format Syndication service that combines the most advanced automation and delivery technology, custom programming solutions, award-winning programmers/talent and flexible format clocks. A “RADIO STATION IN A BOX”, that lets YOU stay in complete LOCAL control of your operation.


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