One of the enduring frustrations of doing radio for a living is the frequent declaration “You don’t work, all you do is talk for a living.” True enough, what we do is fun because we love it and have always dreamed of doing it. But work it is, really!
Failing to prepare properly for a show, particularly a morning show, can be a devastating, even career ending if it occurs too often. You are accountable to bosses, ratings, sponsors, the FCC and, most of all, to the listeners. Fail to keep them listening and you will be gone. Do it in a way that offends sponsors and you will be gone. Do it in a way that offends the FCC (The government) and you will be gone, perhaps never to return anywhere.
Oh, and while your boss will generally be pleased if you keep all these folks happy, they almost always will have their own subjective style they prefer to see executed on-air, which may or may not be consistent with the corporate style of a large radio company.
One thing about the above: No one gives a flying truck how, when or where you prepare. They don’t give 2 cents whether you plug a database in one of your orifices, put an encyclopedia in a blender and drink it or ask the Gods for divine inspiration. The truth is likely more simple, they don’t even think about it.
It is your responsibility to keep everyone happy and the listeners engaged and wanting more.
Its starting to sound a lot more like your job, isn’t it?
Here is what it like: Think about your most recent Sunday. While you were ending your barbecue or watching your last football game, your favorite morning talk jock has already had a busy day, He has already watched the iconic morning TV news shows, such as Face the Nation, or he his now looking at the recorded version. He has earlier today read all the major regional and local news papers, almost cover to cover, and checked the online national papers and local updates on his/her computer.
He/she will watch 60 Minutes, the local news cast again and go over tomorrow’s guest list. Depending on the guest, he/she will have to be sure they are prepared for the issues, book contents or whatever it is the guest will talk about. Then, based on the news of the weekend, he/she may add a guest to cover the breaking stories.
Before tomorrow’s show, he/she will do all of the above except the Sunday shows, one more time. He/she will wake up at three or four in the morning, depending on the commute, just for the right.
That’s Sunday. On-going, he/she has been scheduling guests, talking to news sources, making tender with the sponsors and reading. He/she has been reading everything; all those news papers, all those websites, book summaries, movie reviews, concert dates, gossip columns, all the major news magazines, science journals, financial magazines, pentagon news, foreign affairs journals, sports scores and all the local government school scuttlebutt he/she can get their hands and ears on. Many read when they brush their teeth or in the batch tub. They read on line at the bank and in the doctors office. And they read books, mostly on current events and history, and because this is our our wonderful country, anything about the Constitution, Congress or the presidency. Heck they even read National Geographic, which often has a news making story long before the press does, particularly on climate, science energy or culture.
It never ends.
So the next time you run into a radio talk show host, be nice. Tell them they have a face for radio. They are used to that one. It doesn’t hurt. Plus, they know you don’t mean it. Right? OH! Well it’s still better than the other one.