Prepping Your Show

 In Blog

Mark St. John (Zapoleon Media Strategies) and I brought Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps together at I-95 Birmingham in 1985. We threw them on the air at 1 AM to see if they had any chemistry, since they’d just met.

Forcing myself to stay awake in my Birmingham Hilton room, I was wowed by their very first segment on the air.  “Score! These guys are going to be a big morning show in Birmingham!” I shouted out loud, now fully awake. Mark & Brian roared to #1, and eighteen months later they were doing mornings at KLOS Los Angeles, and soon became the #1 morning show there.

Mark and I are still friends, and he’s now hosting a great new morning show at 100.3 The Sound in LA. Mark shares his secrets for prepping a morning show in this two-part series.

Randy Lane

If you are a radio entertainer then you know the importance of prepping your show. I’ve been doing morning radio for 35 years and in that time I have fallen into a rhythm when it comes to show prep. It could be that something I’m doing may help you.


After you have gone to your favorite sources and printed out your content, sit back and realize that your competition has the very same stack. You need to find a unique way to present this content, in a way like no one else.

For example, I had a story on short men and the “short man syndrome.” Short men are moody, pissy, self-conscious, etc. Most morning shows are going to roll “Short People” by Randy Newman under that story. I didn’t. I rolled a Paul Simon song. When my co-host Gina heard what I was doing she fell out of her chair. I strive for originality on every piece of content I present.


Our research shows that every time I read a “Stupid Criminal” story, we have a spike in meters. Thank God for the state of Florida!


This is vitally important. I recently learned of the “80/20” rule, which means giving the audience 80% of the story in the tease and saving 20% for when we come back from commercials.

I had a story last week about a lady who was stopped by cops. She appeared nervous so they took her in to the station, x-rayed her and found 1500 small bags of heroin in her butt.

Here’s my tease: “The cops pulled over a lady yesterday. She seemed nervous so they took her to the station where they found 1500 hundred small bags of heroin, but you won’t believe where they found it. I have details in 5 minutes; this is Mark In The Morning.” (Hit the commercial.)


Guess what the number one point of tune out is?

ANSWER: The moment you start to speak.

I know, it’s not fair, but here are things to keep in mind. On average, time spent listening is roughly 10 minutes and then listeners are gone. Since that is a fact, does it do you any good to tease something that comes next hour? No, it doesn’t because this group of listeners will not be available next hour. These listeners want to be entertained RIGHT NOW. You are not judged on each show you do, you are judged on each break.

And since the moment I speak is the point of tune out, here’s something I do every break. Let’s say I’m going to tell a hopefully funny story about my son. As the record fades I might say, “Listen to this and you tell me if I’m a bad parent,” then I go into the story. By doing that the listener can relax knowing I’m not taking a break and I have hooked them into staying to hear the story. I gave them a job, “Tell me if I’m a bad parent.”

Also, notice there was no back sell. The audience knows you just played “My Generation” by the Who, and they don’t need the call letters because the PPM meter has registered that they are listening. Your station promos in the spot break will give the call letters. My very first words were, “Listen to this.” You MUST GO RIGHT INTO YOUR CONTENT.

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