Why Audio Matters

 In Blog

Imagine that you are watching “The Today Show” on NBC. It is the morning of September 11, 2001. Matt Lauer mentions breaking news that a plane has hit the World Trade Center.

Matt uses vivid language to describe the black smoke and flames. But throughout the morning’s telecast, NBC never shows pictures. Not one video of the planes, the buildings collapsing, the smoke, flames or citizens running through Manhattan.

As a viewer, you would be very frustrated. No one in television would ever do a show that did not use pictures. So why are there so many radio shows that don’t use audio?

Radio is an aural medium, and sound is a powerful device. Sure, TV has HD video but absolutely nothing can beat theatre of the mind for connecting with audiences. Sound is your key to owning that theatre.

Here’s an example: Tomorrow morning, broadcasters all over North America will talk about “Jurassic World” opening in theaters this weekend. Most of them will not air a single clip from the movie.

But close your eyes and listen to the great audio moments in this trailer.

“Remember, if something chases you…run!”
You just went and made a new dinosaur? Probably not a good idea.”
“Evacuate the island.”

Another Today Show example: Many radio shows mentioned Tracy Morgan’s first appearance after his tragic bus accident. But no description could match hearing the emotion in Tracy’s voice, telling his first-person story in this clip.

Even a tiny clip of audio can bring a knockout punch.

  • Mention a recording artist – play a clip of their music.
  • Mention a sporting event – play a clip of the play-by-play.
  • Mention an awards show – play a moment of the acceptance speech.
  • Mention a film or TV show – play the theme song or a clip of dialogue.
  • Mention a local news story – play a clip from local TV coverage.
  • Mention a viral video from social media – play a clip of the best moment.

Speaking of audio, add music and sound effects that helps to tell your story. Listen to the clip in our newsletter below under “Worst Purchase Ever,” and notice how the music and sound elevates a good story from funny to hilarious.

You may be time-starved, but finding audio is easier and faster than ever. I can Google for audio/video with my MacBook, download clips and edit in about three minutes for each one. If I can do it, so can you.

I use a program called Audio Hijack that records anything that plays through my browser, and a website called Keep Vid (free service) that allows me to download YouTube videos for editing. I use iMovie for editing video and Audacity (free program) for editing audio.

Great audio can be a major competitive advantage for your show. When is the last time you found a tool that was free, easy and fast that you could beat your competitors over the head with?


Chet Buchanan lives down the street from a guy known in his Las Vegas neighborhood as “Bible Nick.” Nick is on his front porch most every day, reading his bible. Nick also has 3-4 different young, attractive women who visit him throughout the week, each staying for only 30-45 minutes.

It turns out that Bible Nick is a steady patron of Nevada’s booming prostitution industry. This led Chet to invite KLUC listeners to contribute their stories about surprising secrets that they learned about their neighbors. And the secrets got deeper as the morning progressed.

  • A hoarder who filled multiple industrial dumpsters over several weeks when his family confronted him.
  • A married couple casually mentioning that they were active swingers.
  • A home where the renters left behind multiple stripper poles, dozens of condom wrappers and other unmentionables.

SETUP: Secrets are almost always good content, otherwise they wouldn’t be secret! This topic could be set up as Secrets You Learned About:

  • Neighbors
  • Coworkers
  • Fellow Church Members
  • Online dates



With this topic, Kevin and Bean got listener responses that included both psychic successes and failures, including predicting:

  • A woman would marry a certain guy (now married 18 years.)
  • Marriage and 3 kids for a woman who ten years later only has cats.
  • A hex that would cost $3000 to be lifted. (Didn’t pay the money, everything’s fine.)

SETUP: Recount experiences with Tarot readers, Ouija boards and psychics, what they predicted and the story of how things turned out.

Alternate setup: what did your financial advisor or real estate agent predict that turned out to be a large success/fail?


Kelly and Ken at 100.9 The Farm in Huntington, Tennessee got on the subject of online shopping, and Ken recounted his story about the time he bought a fake Lamborghini on EBay. (Yes, Ken’s story is as entertaining as the headline indicates.) Enjoy the story, augmented with theatrics, sound effects and music here.

SETUP: Begin with a list of the worst decisions you’ve ever made when buying anything, what you expected, what you paid and what were the warning signs that you ignored before laying down your money.

Kelly and Ken’s topic was “The Worst Thing You Ever Bought On The Internet,” but an alternate setup is to include bad purchases of every kind, or to focus on bad purchases men made when in their poor-judgment teens and early twenties.


Cruising through Studio Think Tank this week, we spotted this video of Jana at Froggy 98.1 in Johnstown-Altoona playing “baby food roulette” with a spinning wheel of different flavors of baby food.

SETUP: Listeners or show members face off in a trivia challenge (or some other game) and each wrong answer results in the loser chowing down on a teaspoon of Gerber’s. If Jana’s video is any indication, the on-air reactions will be hilarious for listeners.


FOMO is a real issue for a lot of people. Sometimes, that fear is well-founded and Mike and Helena on 91.7 The Bounce in Edmonton had a morning full of stories where people said “no” when they should have said “yes.”

  • Helena – who stayed home with her cats on the night when her co-workers randomly met and partied with Lady Gaga.
  • A caller who declined buying lottery tickets with her coworkers, learning the next day that they won a million dollars to split between them
  • Someone who picked up an extra work shift instead of going out with friends, who met and hung out all night with Brody Jenner.

SETUP: Open this discussion by looking for stories where you were this-close to something great, but your fear, your comfort zone or just choosing the wrong date made you miss it all. An alternate setup is to ask when you were glad that you missed out, learning afterward that fate dealt an unfortunate blow that you avoided by staying home.


Did You Survive Schooling in the 80’s?
As an 80’s child, did you have a 16-year-old bus driver? Use dangerous tools in shop class? Or, heaven forbid – did you get to pick whom you gave valentines to? Share stories of things you were allowed to do in school that kids cannot do today.

Do Open Marriages Work?
Sure, an open marriage may sound good to some people, but do they work? Find people who have been there to share their stories of success…or failure.

What is the Weirdest Prank Someone Pulled on you?
This woman woke up to find over 100 garden gnomes in her front garden. What is the strangest/funniest/most wrong prank that you have been a part of?


The quieter you become, the more you can hear. – Ram Dass.

For most people, “down time” has been replaced by mobile devices, Kindles, Facebook, Instagram, podcasts, online TV series, and 5000 cable TV channels. This trend is not healthy for you as a creative media performer.

In our workshops, we advocate “brain parking,” where you spend time on a repetitious activity like walking, washing dishes, mediating or driving. By parking your conscious mind in a simple activity, it allows your unconscious mind to produce brilliant ideas.

We also advocate “forced isolation,” where you plan an hour of silence each week. No conversation, no listening, no talking, no watching, no reading. Along with forced isolation, media deprivation for one day (or even half a day) is very good exercise for your creative voice.

With that philosophy in mind, read this Clive Thompson blog from Wired magazine entitled “The Power Of Boredom.” He outlines how you can tell good creative boredom from bad boredom, how boredom becomes a “seeking state” for your creative brain and a study proving that bored people out-performed constantly active people in a creativity test.


Many managers feel that to be great at their job they must be in control of everything. But at The Center For Creative Leadership CEOs, leaders and directors learn that “great leaders try to cede control.” It is a tough concept for many type-A leaders to accept.

This Inc magazine article by Chuck Blakeman delivers proof that your team’s best performance comes when you turn the asylum over to the inmates.

The article explains why we are fully into the Participation Age, where old-school management is being replaced by leadership. It turns out that leadership is just another word for being confident enough in your people to put them in charge.


In 2012, Steve Harvey admitted to Jeff McHugh in an after-show meeting that retiring stand-up comedy was breaking his heart. But Steve believed at the time that the smartest financial and lifestyle choice for himself and his family was to focus on broadcasting.

Considering the success of Steve’s syndicated iHeart Media radio show and his Steve Harvey Show on television, he made a good choice. But Steve is still a comic at heart, as you can see in this episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee with Jerry Seinfeld.



Having a hard time finding your favorite shows on the 6.2 billion streaming services available? Yidio helps you organize your shows and movies across multiple platforms.

Available for both Android and iOS.


“The art of leadership is to know how few decisions the leader needs to make.” – Jack Dorsey

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.