Prep Rhythm

 In Blog

In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. We have observed that the most successful shows spend hours every day in both group and individual planning.

Mark Thompson, host of Mark in the Morning at 100.3 The Sound – Los Angeles, reveals his personal and team planning process.

By Mark Thompson

Since I spend five to six hours a day on prep, it’s vital that I find a rhythm or a schedule that allows me that much prep time. I currently do mornings on 100.3 The Sound in Los Angeles, but I do it from the east coast, so I broadcast from 9 AM to noon EST.


I get up at 5:00 AM and head straight to the studio in my home and begin printing content. I work until 8:00 AM. When I get up from my chair the show is completely ready to go.

Show 9-12
Lunch and errands
Home @ 1:30 for a cigar
Workout 2-3
Back in the studio 3 to 6 PM for prep
6 PM is wine, dinner and relaxing, but I keep a notebook nearby for whatever ideas I may have.

Considering that you probably do a show that starts at 5 or 6 AM, it’s vital that you do a large portion of your prep the day before. All of your heavy lifting should NOT be when you arrive at the station at 4 or 4:30 AM.


Every morning after the show we meet with the morning team, which includes the PD, Dave Beasing, and the department heads of all divisions that are directly linked to the morning show. The first order of business is my producer, Daniel Mizrahi, talks us through tomorrow’s show, the guests, and bits that are scheduled, etc. He might inform us that tomorrow is Earth Day. The entire room begins throwing out ideas for the best way to hit that beat and create compelling radio. In other words, we “think tank it,” and I am blessed to have a room full of people with great ideas.

At the beginning of MITM, I ask everybody on the team to ask themselves this one question each day: “What can I do to make tomorrow’s show better?” They all respond EVERY DAY with compelling ideas. If you are the captain of your show, one of the most important things you can do for your team is to empower them and let them know how important they are to the show. Build them up to bring out their best. Make them get involved.

After we have completed that part of the meeting and we know we have a show packed with great topical stuff, Dave takes the floor and reviews that day’s show. He first talks about the stuff he really liked, and then gives notes on ways we might have executed better. Dave is our fifth Beatle, and I think it is key to have a set of ears listening that is not in the room. Dave always tells us, “When you think you are done and you have a great show planned, ask yourself this question: What else?” You must always be evolving and pushing yourself to be better. I am 60 years old and have been in radio 45 of those years, 35 of them doing mornings. I still learn something new about radio every day.


Each weekend my producer sends me the grid for the next week. The grid includes guests that have been booked, specific segments that are planned, along with notes like,Wednesday is Bird Watcher Day. We start throwing out ideas on how to best hit that content. By Sunday night, each day of the coming week will have 7 or 8 things scheduled. As each day of broadcast approaches, new items are added, and we start to fine tune each piece. As is always the case, new segments are created to include what topical news happens to be trending.


We always look ahead. In the spring I might ask, “What’s coming this summer that will be big in our city?” We begin planning content for those events. For example, this October is Coachella, or as we call it, “Oldchella.” Featured guests include McCartney, Dylan, Stones, Neil Young, and The Who. I don’t have to tell you that we have had numerous discussions on that topic. You have to go where your audience is. You must always look ahead and have some sort of plan as to what content you might be doing in the next season. We sometimes spend months planning and working on one segment for the show, and it shows!

The next time Randy allows me to contribute to this newsletter, I’m going to tell you a secret. The secret I will share with you is the main reason why I have listeners who have listened to me for 30 years and never miss a show. They tell me that when they listen it feels like we are all sitting on a living room couch talking. Next time? My secret!

See? I hooked you!

Photo credit:

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.