Blog Archives

My Favorite Productivity Apps

By Steve Holstein

In my never-ending quest for efficiency and organization, I download and test productivity apps often (probably too often). What follows are the apps which are currently helping me to get things done.

Note: Except Apple Notes, to the best of my knowledge most of these apps are available on both iOS and Android.

Apple Notes

For a long time my go-to note taking app was Evernote, but earlier this year I switched full time to Apple Notes. It’s fast, it’s free, I like the way it does search, and because it’s an Apple app it works really well with Apple hardware and software.

Some Apple Notes features I like best:

  • iCloud storage that quickly syncs with all my devices (phone, laptop, tablet)

Note: This video explains how to export Evernote notes to Apple Notes.


When I have a few extra minutes and I want something to read I open Pocket, which acts as a catch-all “read it later” for articles I’ve found while browsing on my phone or laptop. When you open Pocket you see a list of your saved articles stripped down to simple text. If you’re a radio show prep hunter-gatherer, Pocket is great to clip articles into because you can tag them based on subject.
The number of features available in Pocket is long so check out PC Magazine’s roundup.

Buffer and Hootsuite

If you share to social media more than once a day, apps like Buffer and Hootsuite will help you schedule posts. If you manage more than a few accounts don’t be afraid to save a few dollars by downloading both of these free apps and splitting your scheduled posts between them.

Dropbox and Google Drive

Every issue of InterPrep, every blog post, every PDF, every photo, every audio file, every everything I digital thing I own is backed up in real-time to the cloud, either in Dropbox or Google Drive. Dropbox is my top choice with Google Drive a nice addition if you use Google Docs, Sheets, etc.


The idea behind password management apps like Dashlane is simple: Store all of your passwords behind one very strong master password. With the app and browser extensions installed you have the option to fill in username and password fields using Dashlane.

Email Me

Many of us use our email inbox as a catch-all for any number of digital things. When I don’t want to send something to Pocket or Apple Notes I use Email Me to send it to my email.


Lots of apps will take what you’ve said and convert it to text, but a dedicated app like Rev is designed for better transcription of long-form content. Open the app, tap ‘Record’ and when you’ve finished the audio is anonymously uploaded to a Rev human for accurate transcription. For a quarter of the price you can also let Rev’s computers transcribe your audio.

Pocket Casts

Pocket Casts has every feature I need in a podcast app — my favorites being offline listening and “up next,” which lets me build a continuous playlist. I can even add non-podcast audio files to Pocket Casts, which I’ll use when doing an aircheck review.


If you do quite a bit of emailing or writing I highly recommend TextExpander to create keyboard shortcuts for often-used words, phrases and even entire emails (think customer support emails, or generic emails you often write for listeners). For example, instead of typing just now I typed #i and TextExpander automatically created the URL for me. When I want to send a new subscriber a “welcome” email I type @welcome and the entire email is “typed” — all I have to do is fill in their name. TextExpander’s feature list is long and once you’ve created a handful of shortcuts you’ll wonder how you got by without it.

Becoming A Content Creator

By Steve Holstein

Remember when you had a Program Director? Now he’s your Brand Manager.

That station General Manager? She’s now your Market Manager.

And you’re no longer a Morning Show Host — you’re a Content Creator. You won’t see this title on the radio job boards, but Content Creator is what you are… or should aspired to be.

I’ve been a Content Creator since 1993, back then I was hosting a morning show and sharing my written bits and jokes with radio friends — by fax. I’m pretty sure content creation is in my blood because since that first fax went out I have learned…

  • to be a pretty good writer by writing regularly.
  • to be a video creator by filming and editing video.
  • to podcast by podcasting.
  • how to set up, launch and maintain a website by setting up multiple websites.
  • learned to set up, launch and publish multiple email newsletters.

Your Market Manager might call you a “Morning Show Host” or “Afternoon On-air Talent,” but if you change your mindset to one of “Content Creator” you’ll find yourself creating beyond your on-air time.

And when you begin to call yourself a Content Creator you can’t help but think of new ways to take the creative ideas in your head and transform them into blog posts, email newsletters, videos, etc.

This content is valuable to not only your radio station but to you, your “brand,” and your career.

Aspiring to be a solid on-air talent is good, but aspiring to be a full-fledged content creator is even better.

Royalty-free Images for Your Radio Station

If your budget for stock photos, graphics and other images is zero there is an option: Creative Commons Zero.Creative Commons Zero means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer.

If you need an image for your website, blog or a home-grown Facebook meme, here are some sources for Creative Commons Zero images. When available we have included a link to each sites’ license page. (info)

Unsplash (info) (unavailable)

Pixabay (info)

SplitShire (info)

1 Million Free Pictures (info)

Gratisography (info)

Little Visuals (info)

PD Pics (unavailable)

Pickup Image (info)

Pikwizard (info)

Ban These Phrases from Your Radio Commercials

InterPrep asked radio pros to share the words and phrases which should be banned from commercials. The question was asked about six weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic.

❌ We’re all in this together.

❌ In this difficult time

❌ During this “new normal”

❌ In these unprecedented times

❌ Anything referring to a helpful, friendly or knowledgeable staff.

❌ “There’s not a bad seat in the house.” I promise there’s a bad seat somewhere.

❌ Redundancy, like “this Saturday, April 25th!”

❌ We truly care.

❌ It’s that time of year again!

❌ Now is the best time to buy.

❌ Commercials that ask a question: “Do you need a new roof?” “Have you been thinking about a vacation?”

❌ Locally owned and operated.

❌ That’s right!

❌ Conveniently located…

❌ Are you looking to buy a new _______.

❌ And so much more!

❌ Phone numbers, unless they’re crazy easy.

❌ We service what we sell.

❌ When it comes to…

❌ Website mentions that begin with WWW. Or “Find us on Facebook.”

❌ Your hometown store.

❌ For all your _____ needs.

❌ In business since…

❌ Commercials that ask a question: “Do you need a new roof?” “Have you been thinking about a vacation?”

❌ Hurry in.

❌ Officially. As in, “Dave’s Burger Barn is officially open!” You’re either open or you’re not.

Audio is the Not-So-Secret Ingredient Your Radio Show is Missing

Let’s talk about the not-so secret radio show prep ingredient that your show is missing. I got a message from a subscriber the afternoon of the Kobe Bryant Memorial and they were asking how was I planning to handle the Memorial on my show the next morning. My answer was audio. There was so much great touching, heartwarming and even funny audio that came out of the Kobe Bryant Memorial.

You see, even if you have trouble talking about a tough subject like the death of a celebrity, you can let the audio take care of it. Check out this clip from Vanessa Bryant. It’s short and could be used in any format on your show.

“Kobe somehow knew where I was at all times. Specifically, when I was late to his games. He would worry about me if I wasn’t in my seat at the start of each game and would ask security where I was at the first time out of the first quarter. And my smart ass would tell him that he wasn’t going to drop 81 points within the first 10 minutes of the game.”

Such a powerful clip and a touch of humor. I don’t know how Vanessa did it, but it’s audio like that, that will set your show apart. You see, audio is the not-so secret ingredient your show is missing. So whether you’re talking about a local sporting event and you use a short listener comment from a phone conversation or you’re talking about the reboot of Jurassic Park and you’re pulling out a classic clip from one of those movies, it’s easier than ever to incorporate audio into every hour of your show. But don’t stop there. You’ve got a smart phone. Get a good audio app and make it a habit to record people who share interesting things.

I was at a parking lot party at a local Harley Davidson dealer and recorded random conversations with five people. One of the women I talked to had recently been to the Florida Keys and shared that you don’t ride your bike at night in Florida because gators like to lay on the warm pavement. I never thought of that, but it was a fun, short conversation and it was a local. Your smartphone is a powerful tool for recording audio at the local level. The internet has more than enough audio for you to spice up your show every single hour. It’s the not-so, so secret ingredient you should be using, and it’s a way to set yourself apart from the show across town.

Train Your Brain: Radio Show Prep is Everywhere

As I said in Episode 2 of the InterPrep Podcast (featuring WQDR’s Mike and Janie), today’s radio professionals shouldn’t struggle to find show content — the difficult task is deciding what not to use.

Radio show prep is everywhere. Recently, while listening to the awesome M*A*S*H Matters podcast, I was reminded that my cohost, Melissa, doesn’t like her food to touch. The guys in M*A*S*H Matters played a clip of Major Burns scolding Private Igor for not keeping the mess tent food compartmentalized. Touching food comes up on my show now and again and I’m glad — it’s one of those personal, recurring everyone can relate to; either you hate your food to touch, or you’re married to someone who’s food can’t touch.

A good radio pro borrows and makes it their own — and that’s what I did: borrowed the audio from the podcast to reboot a great conversation with my cohost.

Love the Flub

On a recent episode of the BBC podcast More or Less: Behind the Statistics, the narrator begins by telling listeners that the episode was almost pulled because of an error.

(Spoiler alert: When comparing the world’s best golfers, the host compared Tiger Woods to Jack Nicholson.)

Instead, they decided to release the podcast episode as-is — and invited listeners to spot the error.

The average American worker makes 118 mistakes each year, so why can’t you? After all, it’s content no one can copy and it shows you are human.

Love the

Radio Pros Recycle

Never treat a break as “one and done.” If it’s good enough to air once it’s likely good enough to rerun later in the show or early tomorrow.

Is the topic generic? Save it to your Best Of and Evergreen folders.

Never waste great content. Replay it as-is; reboot the conversation with new audio or a phone call; recycle to other hours and days.

Add to an Evergreen Folder Every Day

Every day, commit to adding at least one of your show’s best breaks to an ‘evergreen’ folder. This folder is your backup in case half of your two-person show is out sick or on vacation. These should be non-topical and not time sensitive.

The folder is your go-to when one or more of the microphones stops working.

It’s what you turn to when you’re flying solo on a holiday and still want to sound like the gang’s all there.

It’s that once-in-awhile backup when a cohost oversleeps.

Go Ahead, Do Your Show for One Listener

When you have benchmark features like offbeat news or good news, it’s not uncommon to get suggested stories from listeners. Very often these stories are days or weeks old, so you’ll typically reply with “Thanks for listening!” and delete their story suggestion. Instead, use the story suggestion to turn the listener into a fan.

While the story they emailed or messaged might be a bit dated, it’s new and important to them, so why not record a custom version of your benchmark featuring their story? Play your standard benchmark intro, mention their name and read their submitted story, then email them an MP3. They won’t know and won’t care that it didn’t make it on-air — only that you used their suggestion on your show!

Why You Should Use Video Submissions for Radio Station Online Contests

Why You Should Use Video Submissions for Radio Station Online Contests

Steve Holstein

Your radio station has likely been doing online contesting for years. The formula is quick and easy: “Sign up on our website for your chance to win!” However, while these online contests are great for getting listeners to your website and building a listener database, they’re not so great for on-air programming.

Because we’re in the audio business, you should always be looking for opportunities to get audio to use on your show and in station imaging. The next time you’re doing an online contest, consider taking video submissions. It’s simple: at the end of the form ask your listener to submit an optional video selfie explaining why they’re entering.

Why? You’ll have AUDIO of listeners to use when you talk up the contest.

As a bonus you might discover a unique ‘character’ in your audience that can become a part of your show: a wise-cracking waitress; a well-spoken police officer or nurse; a funny mom with three kids.

To encourage these video selfies, offer a bonus prize.

Radio Blast from the Past: The PD Planner


Radio Blast from the Past: The PD Planner

Way back in the 1990s, Programmer and Consultant Michael Langevin published “The PD Planner,” a planning tool to help radio program directors better plan their days, weeks, months and beyond.

1. Check the program log for missed commercials, problems etc.
2. Check the music log for accuracy and deal with any problems
3. Check the transmitter log
4. Meet with general manager and sales manager
5. Review the day’s promotional activities and check for loose ends
6. Set up your daily/weekly planner
7. Return phone calls

1. Write new liners
2. Update station promos
3. Meet with morning show talent (daily if possible)
4. Do analysis of your music scheduling software
5. Review music adds
6. Make sure that you’ve run proper EAS tests
7. Conduct a promotions meeting
8. Aircheck sessions with non-morning drive full-time staff
9. Read appropriate trade magazines/newsletters
10. Make sure website is updated
11. Conduct call out research on currents/recurrents

1. Aircheck all part-timers
2. Finalize transmitter logs and place in public file
3. Review rules/priorities/settings etc. in music scheduling software
4. Review marketing plan
5. Do a complete competitive analysis on your biggest competitor and review
6. Meet with station consultant or group program director

1. Put together programs/issues list and place in public file
2. Prepare a new programming plan
3. Review station research
4. Get out of the station for a day for a fresh perspective

1. Conduct a perceptual study in your market
2. Do a focus group
3. Conduct a music test on the gold base of your music library
4. Review and renew air staff contracts/agreements
5. Conduct staff reviews and give raises
6. Have a complete engineering analysis of your station processing
7. Prepare a budget for the programming department
8. Attend at least one industry convention
9. Take a fun and relaxing vacation – you deserve it

Temi is a Personal Assistant for Radio Pros

Some of your best show prep and promotional ideas probably come while you’re driving, out for a walk, or at the gym. Every Radio Pro has an audio recorder app on their phone for recording quick notes or impromptu interviews but the app Temi goes one step further.

Temi will record your notes then send your audio files to the cloud to be transcribed in minutes by a Temi team member.

So the next time you’re out for a walk and have an idea for a blog post or morning show bit, read it out loud to Temi and send it off. By the time you get back to a computer the script will be in your email.


Local Guests: 7 Ways to Maximize a Community Interview

Local guests are a great way for your show stand out from voice-tracked, satellite-delivered national radio shows. One segment of local guests many shows shy away from is community organizations. Why? Well, obviously, the topics just don’t seem entertaining, fun or interesting.

But the content and connections made from a simple five minute appearance will be beneficial to your show and radio station for weeks and months to come.

Here are seven ways to maximize the value of community guests.

Create a Sign-Up Form

This doesn’t have to be a public form (though having a “Want to be a guest on our show?” link could result in some guest ideas you hadn’t considered). The objectives of the form are:

1) Gather lots of contact info. You’re not just getting one-time guest information, you’re building database of contacts of local movers and shakers.

2) Get lots of details. While the idea of talking about a 5K charity run doesn’t sound exciting, a particular element of the 5K could be what drives the entertainment value of the conversation.

3) Verify their interest. Being on your show is a big deal, a bigvaluabledeal. Truly interested groups will be happy to take the extra steps necessary to request a slot on your show.

At a minimum the form should get info on the organization, unique elements of the event, a website link, the names of two people who will be visiting the show (more on this later) and contact info.

Two Guests Are Better Than One

Strongly encourage two members of the organization to be on the show. If one of the two is more outgoing, you can focus more of the conversation on them.

Prep the PSAs

A few days prior to their arrival at the studio ask your guests to send details for two recorded PSAs. One PSA will promote their event — this can be added into your radio group’s PSA rotator immediately. The other PSA is an ‘evergreen’ which can air in the future. You want these to arrive in your email days in advance so that they can be polished and ready to be recorded. Once the studio interview is over, show your guests to the production studio and introduce them to production director.

Treat Them Like Rock Stars

The people behind your local community organizations are overworked and underpaid, so greet them with hot coffee, fresh pastries or bagels, and a few stations freebies. But more importantly, these community leaders should be welcomed by the station owner or general manager. Community leaders arecommunity connectorsand it simply makes good public relations and business sense.

Get a Selfie

Have a logo’d backdrop, banner or sign you can pose in front of. And don’t just share the photo the morning of your guest’s visit — recycle it the day before or morning of their event, along with a link to their website. Share the photo with your guests and ask them point blank to “share this on social media”.

Record to Share

After the show you’re going to upload the audio to your blog and share it on social media. You also want to share the audio with your Public Affairs Director and News Director. Much of the full interview could be used on a weekend public affairs program. Parts of the audio can be used to add some punch local newscasts.

Record to Recycle

Use the best one or two soundbites from the interview the week of the event. This is a great way to re-emphasize how local your show is.

Free Tools for Powering Up Your Radio Station’s Social Media

By Leigh Detzel, WRVL-FM Lynchburg, Virginia

Working in radio means you’ll always wear more than one hat. I happen to co-host our morning show, direct the intern program and run our station’s social media. It’s overwhelming for a perfectionist like myself. Our time is valuable and it just so happens that creating content for social media that is up-to-date, modern, and unique isn’t easy.

If you don’t have a degree in graphic design, and Adobe CC seems unconquerable (and, quite honestly, unaffordable) there are many apps out there to help you create quick and enticing graphics. My sister works for a large B2B marketing firm as a designer and I ask for her feedback quite frequently. The content I churn out from these apps meet her approval, overwhelmingly so. Here are my top go-to apps (for iPhone) that I use on a frequent basis.

The Best

1. Over

You can download it for free, but to use the full benefits (OverPro), it’s $7.99/mo. You are given access to hundreds of pre-made templates, photos, graphics and fonts which are updated daily. The tech support is through-the-roof fantastic. If you’ve got your station logo, you can add it easily to any graphic that you’ve created. The images are beautiful and 100% customizable. If you can afford it get it.

2. Adobe Spark Post

This is incredibly easy to use. While it is not as versatile as Over, it is hands-down idiot-proof. It also includes graphics, fonts and templates. The best part about this app is that everything you make will look clean and professional. You can also “animate” your edits and save them as a video. Spark Post works best for simple graphics with text. You can “remix” templates with the touch of a button and customize to your liking. The only downfall is that you can’t add your station logo — but I remedy this by saving the photo as a .png, opening in in Over and adding it there.

3. Enlight

If you’re at an event and snapping photos with your phone, you’ll get photos that need to be edited, cropped and made to look like they weren’t quickly snapped with an iPhone. You can take images and create beautiful graphics. There are tons of special effects and brushes, filters and some really cool tools that you can’t really find in other apps. This app is a power-house — once you learn to use it.



Simliar to Enlight, this app is mainly for photo-editing. It’s a bit tricky, but it’s free. You can quickly crop, adjust and make your photos useable to post, but it takes time to learn.


While Canva is semi-easy to learn, many businesses use it. This means if you don’t want to pay for things like background images, new fonts, and new formats ($1 each!) you’ll end up seeing a lot of stations with the same graphics because they’re the free ones featured at the top of the app each day. It also works on a laptop web browser, but is maddening to use because of the inability to edit seamlessly like you can on the app. You’d do better to spend 4 hours in Photoshop where you have more options.

Pablo by Buffer

While not a phone app, Pablo is another easy-to-learn web application for quickly dropping text over images. Pablo — created by the same team behind the fantastic social media scheduling app Buffer — offers a good selection of free images and also allows you to upload your own.

Try Them All

Keep in mind that using a new app can be daunting at first, but once you get the hang of these apps, you’ll be able to really up the ante with your social media game.

Next Level Radio Show Prep with Trello

Radio shows sound better when there’s a plan — a daily roadmap that lets everyone involved in the show know what’s coming.

You can plan your show with anything: a paper legal pad, a Word file, Evernote, a Google doc, etc. What’s important is to have a plan that everyone view and update. And because show prep and planning happen around the clock, finding a planning tool anyone can access at any time is important.

My show began experimenting with Trello in 2016 and right away we knew this project and task management app was just what we needed. With Trello we can view and update upcoming shows from any device — even a smartphone.

In this video you’ll learn the basics of setting up and creating radio show prep clocks using Trello.