It has to be said that many people like the idea of running their own radio station, but would be just as happy hosting a show and offering it out to broadcasters. All the gain with no pain.
But there are a few things to consider for it to be a success for you and worthwhile to broadcasters (and let’s not forget the listeners!).
Now, broadcasters love original and exclusive content. And while many would prefer you only send your show to them, if you want maximum coverage you have to spread your bets – and that means making shows more generic than you might be used to so they appeal to a wider market of broadcasters and have a longer shelf life.
Where to start?
Well you need somewhere to record your show. So ideally you have a place to do this and the gear to make it happen. Frankly, you don’t need too much and if any investment is needed it will likely be in your microphone and perhaps a microphone limiter/compressor just to give your voice the edge.
Remember, most of the music and jingles you’ll be playing will be highly produced etc, so it’s no good if you sound light, weak and thin when you speak into a cheap microphone.
So invest in a good mic and compressor. I use an RE27 microphone and a (cheap as chips) Behringer Composer Pro-XL compressor. And these two items give my voice a bit more beef (invest in yourself).
But I didn’t start with a RE27 – I first used a Shure SM58 (slightly dull response for my voice), then I used a Sennhieser ME66 I had from my days as a filmmaker (not ideal – too sensitive for close work), then there was a AT2020 – pretty good – and then I dug deep and got the RE27 N/D. It took weeks to get it sounding how I wanted with the compressor (less is more).
I have a very basic mixer, headphones and monitor speakers (raised up to head level) on stands.
My syndicated show runs for an hour (59m45sec to be precise) and I know many station owners would prefer a 2 or 3 hour show, but I simply don’t have the time.
But what station managers really like is consistency. The people I send my show to know they will get my show download link (DropBox) via email on the same day and time each week. It’s delivered like clockwork.
They know my show will not overun, it will be audio levelled at -1db and will be supplied with a full track list so they can make accurate returns for royalty payments – and see at a glance the tracks I have featured.
If you are serious about syndicating your show and really want to back yourself then you need a website to promote you and for your demo.
So my jazz show is called Cool Nights and I market it via my website CoolNights.co.uk.
On the site people can listen to a demo, hear older shows thanks to a MixCloud player and subscribe via a MailChimp form.
Using MailChimp means I don’t need to be bogged down with adding people manually to a list and then searching through it when stations close or someone asks to be taken off the list.
MailChimp automates the whole sign-up process and I just log in to MailChimp once a week to send out the latest show.
People who sign up are automatically redirected to a hidden page of show logos and audio promos.
Hosting a generic syndicated show means you have to be careful what you say.
For example, there’s no point talking about the weather or the seasons because your show will likely end up being broadcast by stations all around the world (and not necessarily in the week you sent it to them).
You can’t mention the time either. You maybe able to get away with “it’s 20 past the hour” but that assumes there wasn’t a three minute news bulletin and commercials before your show stated. I have fun saying things such as “oh look at the time!”.
You can say things such as “visit our website if you want to send in a request” without giving the URL out.
As for the MP3 you send out…I place my show name, episode number and track list in the meta data area and add my show artwork to it too. My MP3s are 128kbps at 48Khz (59mins = 57 meg).
Hosting a syndicated show is a painless way to scratch that broadcasting itch without having to worry about running a whole station and paying all the associated costs and fees that go with it.
You get to have some fun, stations get free content and who knows…maybe a show sponsor will come out of the woodwork, or you’ll get picked up by a major broadcaster.
And because shows are recorded; you can do shows in advance and make each one perfect. But that doesn’t mean you should edit out all the goofy mistakes – no one’s perfect, so keep it real.
To end with; here are some syndicated radio show do’s and dont’s:
- End each show with an instrumental if possible as your last track will likely be cut short by the preceding news or commercials.
- Be consistent in delivering your show.
- Keep the quality up – there’s no excuse for delivering a sloppy show.
- Tell station owners well in advance if you are taking a break or ending the show.
- Provide a show logo / artwork and audio promo’s for broadcasters to use. Give your show an identity; brand it like a pro.
- Always have 2 or 3 shows up your sleeve. These can be sent out if you are on holiday or unwell etc.
- Place shows on MixCloud etc – use their embed player on your website.
- Buy the web domain for your show and build a website for it – its shows professionalism and commitment.
- Get a custom show ID jingle made. Get a friend to voice it, add a little imaging, whizz, pop, bang – job done (ask me if you like).
- Get upset if / when a station owner stops running your show. It’s their station, their choice. Just accept it and move on.
- Sell yourself short; deliver the best show possible every week.
- Pester station owners. Many will want to see you have a good few shows under your belt before they place you on the schedule.
- Do not use obscene language or songs with offensive phrases. Keep shows family-friendly.
- Talk about the weather, seasons, time or news items if you want your shows to have a long shelf life (i.e; be played over and over in years to come).
- Over-run. Keep each show or show segment to the agreed time – and not one second more.
If you have any tips about hosting and promoting a syndicated radio show then do send them to us.