Running your own radio station gives you the opportunity and freedom to create content that you want make and broadcast. However, this can be a daunting task as there are so many options and possibilities. In this blog post, we’ll give you some tips and tricks on how to choose talk radio topics for your shows and create engaging content for your station.
Themes, Goals, & Suitability
While many radio stations are flexible in terms of structure and topics covered, in general most have predefined themes or goals so they always stay on point.
For example you could run a breakfast talk show focusing on world news which would appeal to a broad audience – Alternatively you could run a show on local news, which would be for a defined audience. Shows can be as broad or as specific as you want as long as there’s an overall theme or goal.
Topics you could choose to talk about could be anything from news and current events; educational topics like history or science; political commentary; sports; advice; music; satire; and many, many more. Set targets to work with so your shows have purpose and direction.
Although the themes, goals, and topics that you choose could come from a wide array of subjects or interests, make sure that these make sense in the context of your show or station. Having a discussion about the latest political news in between playing the latest chart hits may not provide the correct tone for your radio show. Make sure that the topics you choose correspond with your other content and the overall tone of your station.
It’s all well and good building shows around topics, but you need to know your audience first before you can really get down to the hard work of actually writing your content.
Know Your Listeners?
We’ve all been there when someone starts talking about a topic we don’t really know or even care about. Immediately we disengage, that’s why before you do anything else it’s important to really understand your audience.
Knowing your listeners is the easiest way to guarantee that you pick topics that they can relate to, so how do you really get to know them?
The best place to start is research, so try:
• Opinion Polls: Ask questions using tools like Google surveys and SurveyMonkey.
• Social Media: Use Facebook groups and Twitter lists to gather info about your audience and what they’re currently talking about.
Knowing your listenership is vital in choosing topics for your radio shows. By understanding who listens to you and your show, you can carve a niche or market for your station. This in turn could result in gaining more listeners as we explain in other Radio.co blog post about gaining more listeners.
Often the best way to pick a subject is to look at current events by checking newspaper headlines or trending topics on the web.
You can easily track what’s going on in the world using Google news alerts or by following news agencies on Twitter, to name just a few.
Whatever trending topics you choose, be sure they’re relevant and on point with your station’s output – For example, if you’re a rock station talking about the latest pop hits then that might be the best fit. Talking about a Presidential election in between pop hits may be out of character, compared to the latest celebrity news for example.
The internet is a powerful tool for sourcing content, but it is important to filter out the irrelevant stuff that doesn’t add to your show or station’s output.
Having a fresh perspective on things can really shake up your shows, that’s why guests are a good way of encouraging discussion and debate amongst your listeners. WHTZ-FM, KIIS-FM, and BBC Radio 1 always get new people on board to freshen up their shows.
Whether it’s interviews with guests or phone-ins with listeners, other points of views provide interesting avenues of conversation which actually make it easier as you only need to present a loose topic and then respond with follow up questions.
It’s also super simple to take live callers on air as you can use software like Skype or your phone to record audio, as shown below.
Guests, whether they are celebrities or experts on the topic you’re talking about, can add real credibility and authority to your station. For example, no matter what genre your station is devoted to, interviewing well known or even local bands, artists, or experts will drive traffic to your station.
Celebrity star power or the addition of experts like this has such a big influence on listeners and opens up loads of talking points as they have a wealth of knowledge and experience to discuss.
Whatever topics you decide to choose, keep in mind your audience and what they want. Hopefully this has given you some food for thought and good starting points on the road to creating some awesome radio shows!
What to Do With All These Topics & Content
Once you have assembled all your topics for your radio show, it’s a great idea to plan them out.
One of the most tried and tested ways to do this is to create a show clock. It’s essentially a pie chart with all the elements of your show mapped out hour by hour. You can break down the chart to have news at the top of the hour; songs throughout and what features you want to broadcast at specific times.
By organising your topics and content with a show clock, you can give your show a rigid structure that helps you sound more professional. Styles of radio differ greatly: some people like to prepare and some like to improvise. However, a show clock is a great way to disciplining your output and making your content more engaging for your listener.
Here’s an example of a basic show clock:
Your Turn: Choose Talk Radio Topics
If you have any other great ways to find content and choose topics for your station, be sure to leave a comment below or get in touch with us.
If you’re not already running your own shows and thinking about getting started then now’s the perfect time! Join the Radio.co family by starting your 7 day free trial to get up and broadcasting today. Alternatively, if you’d like to talk to a radio expert about your station’s content, you can book a demo here.