The greats in any field make their craft look easy. Michael Jordan has even apologized for that fact. Radio is no different. I was asked to share what it takes to create great on-air content at Positive Alternative Radio’s Vision Week. In my observation, it starts with this:

  • Schedule Daily Creative Time

You’re not Tom Hanks. You can’t wing a compelling performance. In fact, even Tom doesn’t wing it most of the time. When he makes an appearance on a talk show, he comes prepared with stories. Stories crafted to perfection. Many on-air radio people wear multiple hats and go from meeting to meeting, directly into the studio to do their show. This is a recipe for mediocrity, at best. You must organize your time to maximize creativity. Spend a minimum of 1 hour per day planning and writing your show before it starts. If you get writer’s block, do what bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert recommends to overcome: set a timer. Turn off social media, grab your notes, and force yourself to sit there with a blank page and write out your breaks.

  • Ask Questions

Filmmaker and showrunner Brian Koppelman uses the expression “the answer to a movie,” as if a movie is a problem. But, of course, it is. It’s the problem of unlocking the viewer. To gain enrollment. To have them let you in. To get a chance to tell your story, and then, even better, to have that story make an impact

Seth Godin in This is Marketing

What is the answer to your show? How will you unlock your listener today? To have them let you in. Ask yourself, what does she need today? Does she need to laugh, be encouraged, or maybe informed about a major storm? Focus on her needs, not the stations. Ask, what do you want her to feel with each break?

On the air, before you share a story about your life or experience, ask your listener an open- ended question to set it up. Ask her what she thinks about the subject first. Questions show interest, create understanding, and build rapport.

  • Own Your Show

Retired Navy Seal and author of the book Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink argues there is only one way to get better at your craft, and “it’s the way of discipline”. There is no shortcut. To be remarkable, you have to do the work. Take ownership of your show and don’t make excuses for not prepping.