If You Think Your Show Is Inclusive, Think Again

 In Blog

Have you ever been frustrated tuning in to an interview and the host never says who they are talking to? Focus group listeners tell me it happens often on radio shows.

Radio is in competition with a plethora of platforms today and we’re dealing with an impatient, short attention-span audience. While many shows encourage listeners to be part of the conversationby phone, text, and online, they often do not make it easy to follow or participate in the conversation.

The 80-20 Rule Paradox

The traditional 80-20 Rule directly applies to radio stations and personality shows. Approximately 20% of your audience contributes 80% of the listening. It’s a sound strategy for Nielsen to focus on the 20% or P1 heavy users.

However, there is a caveat. We have observed highly rated P1-focused shows hit a ratings plateau and decline by over-focusing on loyal fans and to the exclusion of new and recurring listeners (P2,3, & 4s). They assume everyone listening knows all their benchmarks and peripheral characters.

Whether you’re a long-term successful show or a new one, your show will benefit from the following Radio 101 inclusive action steps.

The Fundamentals of Inclusivity

Name names: On ensemble shows, refer to one another by name so listeners can connect the voice to the name and make the conversation easy to follow. Rather than, “Why did you love the Barbie movie,” it’s inclusive to say, “Megan, why did you love the Barbie movie?”

“Name tagging” also goes for referencing family members (e.g., my husband Rick), bosses, coworkers, or anyone who enters the studio.

Reserve you for listeners. Radio listening is typically a solo experience. Referring to the audience as you immediately include listeners in your content, and it sounds like you’re talking directly to one person. Example: “What do youthink of the Barbie movie? Call us at ___.”

Clearly and succinctly set up features. Even if you’ve been doing Second Date Update for ten years, briefly set it up in the opening to help new and cume listeners follow along. To include listeners just tuning in, close out features by reinforcing the name and briefly summarize what happened.

Intro clearly and reset often. Many shows have an annoying habit of obscuring a guest’s introduction by excitedly introducing them by shouting their name and the cast simultaneously cheers and applauds. Simply intro the guest with enthusiasm, then if you have a cast, cheer and applaud.

Listeners continually tune in based on their schedule. Reintroduce guests and reset topics every few minutes.


By including everyone in your content and characters, your show can play to your fan base AND expand it (plus the ratings) by making your show easy to follow for new and recurring listeners.

Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

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