Mic Order: Who Talks First?

 In Blog

There are no hard and fast rules for mic order on radio shows. Who talks first, second, third, etc.? There are highly successful shows with a fixed mic order AND there are highly successful shows with a varied mic order.

Fixed Mic Order

Almost all shows with one personality’s name on them such as The Woody Show or Ryan Seacrest, talk first then direct the conversation to the other players. Team shows like Rock 100.5 Atlanta’s Bailey and Southside are typically mic one and two, Brandi and Nate are the 3rd and 4th mics.

It’s important for new shows to establish a pattern of consistency with a fixed structure to help listeners get to know the roles and become familiar with the players.

Varied and Open Mic Order

Once shows are established mic sequence can be varied or open in some situations.  Mature brands like Ken, Colleen and Kurt at Star 102.5 Des Moines start segments with host Ken and then he goes to either Colleen or Kurt depending on who is the focus of the content.

Heritage shows benefit from the element of surprise and unpredictability by allowing the player who will be the center of the segment to speak first.

Ensemble shows normally fall into two categories regarding mic progression.

  1. The host opens each content segment and calls on players by name to join the conversation. Players can raise their hand or use other non-verbal cues when they want to add to a discussion. This efficient mic style keeps chatty cohosts and spice/lightning rod cohosts in-check.
  2. The host opens each segment, sets up a cohost, then the mics are open for any player to chime in on the discussion. This requires all the players to be active listeners to avoid stepping on one another.

Alert to male hosts on female-targeted shows: You alienate your core by hogging mic time or interrupting your female cohosts. The woman or women on your show are the microphones for every female listening.

It’s unfortunate to hear egocentric hosts on ensemble shows suck up 80% of the real estate and leave only 20% of mic time for three or four cohosts. The best hosts utilize all the players democratically to get the best content and dynamics.

Photo credit: Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

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