Don’t Treat Your Show Like a Self-checkout Lane

It’s an understatement to say that self-checkout lanes can be frustrating. As a food researcher at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia told CNN:

“We’re in 2022. One would expect the self-checkout experience to be flawless. We’re not there at all.”

In a recent poll of shoppers, 67% said they’d experienced a failure at the self-checkout lane. Sounds about right. Yet every day millions of us — myself included — use self-checkouts because they’re just good enough. They’re mostly reliable and typically there are no surprises.

Radio and self-checkout lanes have something in common

If the radio industry is being honest with itself many listeners tune in to their AM and FM signals because, like self-checkout lanes, they are just good enough.

On-air pros are so overburdened with mundane tasks that finding even an hour before a show to prepare is difficult. Quite simply, when your mind is focused on massaging spot logs or attending another mundane weekly meeting, it’s difficult to get into creative preparation mode. (Good show prep services can help.)

But just good enough is no longer acceptable and it’s up to radio pros to challenge themselves to take it up a notch as they fill out their prep grids.

Going beyond ‘just good enough’

Starting today, challenge yourself to elevate one break per show to sound better than just good enough…

• Add simple audio clips and sound effects to enhance story-telling.
• Record story reactions from family, friends, co-workers and listeners and use them on-air.
• Attach a local landmark or event to a national story.
• Reveal something personal as it relates to the item you’re talking about.
• Pre-schedule a “spontaneous” local phone call with someone who will react to what you just said.
• Offer a helpful list or useful links on your show blog or in your weekly show email newsletter.

Assuming you recycle your content, that’s two breaks in one show you’ve elevated to another level. Next week elevate two breaks per show; the week after that elevate one break in each hour.

Get free radio show prep or upgrade your current show prep. Click to learn more.

Nothing is new except arrangement

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel — just spend a few extra minutes to add better icing to your content cake. As writer, historian, and philosopher Will Durant said:

“Nothing is new except arrangement.”

I’m Steve Holstein, the Publisher and Chief Content Creator at If you have comment about this post or a question about what we do I’d love to hear from you. Please contact me here.