Heard of the phrase "fail to preprare, prepare to fail"? It is a phrase that can warn you for, well, pretty much anything in life. School, college/university, job interviews, visa applications, holidays, etc.
This phrase is especially true for radio shows and podcasts.
From my experience preparation can make your show sound like either: a slick, entertaining and memorable event; winging that best man’s speech or sound like you’re quoting Encyclopedia Britannica syllable by syllable.
I’ve seen/heard many radio shows and podcasts over the years, with very little or literally no prep at all. On the other hand I’ve seen/heard many radio shows and podcasts over the years with so much prep that it sounds stilted, dry and bland.
For me show preparation is like a see-saw. Both extremes can produce undesired consequences.
So my formula for good prep is:
So how do I prepare?
There’s no right or wrong answer on how to prepare. You have to find the best preparation method that works for you and your show, much like swotting up for a school exam complimenting your learning style.
For The Feelgood Lounge, which has the additional complication of being presented remotely and I don’t do the technical operation myself like I would in pre-COVID times, the following components are:
I prepare a running order with timings, segment details (feature or link and it’s intended length), song details and next item cues. The last is very important since there’s no visual indicator for my engineer.
Alongside the running order I also have my notes for links and features which I keep in very short bulletpoints. This acts something like cue cards that can be read at a glance.
Other things that help
Throat lozenges with menthol, for me it helps to clear my nasal passages and therefore clearing my voice.
Large bottle of water (typically 2 litres) to keep hydrated and obviously wet the whistle. Keeping your voice in good condition is critical.
Skyping my engineer prior to the show so I can go over any important details, discuss anything technical issues I need to be aware of and also create a mental fence where I enter "the zone" and not think about anything else.
Good prep of course is no guarantee your show will win a Sony award or it’ll enter radio folkore; but it can minimise the chances of your show becoming an on-air tragedy.
How do you prepare your radio show? Any tips of what and what not to do? Do you think that prep is essential or a waste of time? Feel free to share in the comments below.
The Feelgood Lounge, Thursday evenings, 2000-2200 UK time on Southern Sound (Channel 8 in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow and southernsound.org.uk)
I lived alone during lockdown so for me there were two pluses: Concerns of the virus being brought into the flat by others was non-existent and being left to my own devices.
What also helped me get through this tricky time was my radio presenting.
Access to SunnyG and Southern Sound studios were (and still are) off limits as soon as the virus took off in Glasgow. For many it brought a temporary pause to their volunteering.
Thankfully my home studio (ok, mic on a mic arm, mixer, some cheap duvet for soundproofing in a tiny cupboard) saved the day. However there’s no air conditioning, light fixtures and the only way my laptop, which acts as my recording/streaming device, could be placed was outside the studio. It wasn’t perfect but hey it works.
Cupboards and walk-in wardrobes in my opinion are good for home studios/home recording booths. Especially if there are fittings, the headroom is lower and the space is more confined which can act as partial soundproofing. I also have £6’s worth supermarket duvet at the back of my mic just to be sure.
This has been my setup for recording The Feelgood Lounge and even before the pandemic, the Monday at Six Christmas special for SunnyG and the Hansen’s Corner podcasts.
I miss presenting radio shows live – sadly my “studio” currently doesn’t have the technical capacity to fully broadcast live other than down a Skype line and the technical operation handled by someone else.
Besides such a setup is expensive and would cost hundreds, if not thousands of pounds to be compatible with the station’s existing playout infrastructure.
Nevertheless such an activity gave me another purpose during the lockdown. In this case, to provide some kind of distraction for the hospital patients who not only have to worry about their own health but also that vicious virus.
Having such a purpose inspires me and reminds me that I’m actually lucky to be in a position to do so.