Streaming Music, Podcasts, & Audio 43 43 people found this article helpful How to Format Your Radio Program by Corey Deitz Writer Former Lifewire writer Corey Deitz is a veteran radio broadcaster, voiceover artist, and author with more than 25 years of broadcasting experience. our editorial process Facebook LinkedIn Corey Deitz Updated on February 13, 2020 Marc Romanelli / Getty Images Music, Podcasts, & Audio Radio Music For Your Life Audio Streaming Podcasts CDs, MP3s, & Other Media Tweet Share Email To some people in the radio industry, format is a dirty word. It evokes images of program directors or radio consultants sitting in sterile offices and pouring over the structure of their station's typical programming hour. An Era of Over-Formatted Radio Many experts lament that radio in recent years has been too tightly structured. The new JACK format being adopted across the country might be considered a reaction to that. It's sort of an anti-format format—at least that's part of what programmers are trying to convey to listeners. Don't think of it as old radio; think of it as your radio "on shuffle" like your iPod. JACK stations claim to have increased the size of their music libraries and thrown aside the usual rules about which song gets played next to another song, when during a typical hour it happens and even how often. Like anything, formats have their place and although often vilified, they are not inherently evil. Formats give structure and are the skeletal basis for a station's sound or even a radio show. How A Format Applies to Your Show You may envision your own radio show to be a wild ride of outrageous proportion. Remember, however, that people are still creatures that seek order—even in disorder. The logic of formatting originated in radio, but it applies equally well to podcasting. Basic Format: Content Theme and Time Let's say you've created a streaming internet station featuring Turkish folk music and you will host a show five days-a-week featuring the biggest names in Turkish folk music. At a minimum, you want your listeners to know when your show is broadcast. If you decide it will be nightly at 10 p.m., you've just formatted your station. Actually, the first format decision was deciding on the Turkish folk music (good job!) and the second decision was placing your show at 10 p.m. At least now listeners will know when to tune in for your show. Basic Format: Internal Show Structure It's not a bad idea to start with some kind of open or intro that explains what people are about to hear and who they are listening to. Intros make a great slot for thanking program sponsors, too. Likewise, end the show with a close or an outro. For listeners who tune in during the middle or just miss the beginning, the outro lets them know what they were listening to, who, and maybe how to email you or your website address. These are basic formatics. From there, you fill the tree with content choices: Are you going to take breaks during your show to play a sponsor's recorded commercial or a commercial for your own product or service?If so, how many "stop sets" (commercial breaks) will you integrate and how long will they be? You might have a 30-minute podcast and stop down for a commercial or public service announcement twice: 10 minutes into your program and then 10 minutes later. By knowing approximately when you will do these breaks you can better plan each segment of your show that surrounds them. Already the format of our hypothetical show looks like this: :00 OPEN — :10 Stop Set — :20 Stop Set — :30 CLOSE Formatting a talk show is easy and the structure helps you pace the program. More Advanced Formatting What if you've decided to do an Oldies show featuring music from the 1980s? You need not plan anything but you might want to set up a format that spreads the music out in a way that either: Allows your songs to rotate through the decade equally by year; orPresents music by tempo, creating "hills and valleys" so that the listener doesn't hear too many slow songs in a row (or fast ones, for that matter). And when you're not talking between songs, will you insert production elements that tell listeners what station they're listening to? If so, where will you place them so that they don't interfere too much with the music or repeat too often yet play enough to be effective? All of this is formatting and as sick of commercial radio as you might be, don't ignore formatting simply because it's been overused. It's helpful to think carefully about your radio show and make constructive decisions on how best to present it.