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How to Create Your Own Radio Program

Part 4 of 6: Formatics

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To some people “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 radio station’s typical programming hour.

An Era of Over-Formatted Radio

There is no doubt that Radio has been in an era of what some think is an over-formatted existence. The new “JACK” format which is 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

What does all this mean to you? Well, you may envision your own radio show to be a wild ride of outrageous proportion. Great! But, remember that people are still creatures that seek out order - even in disorder.

Let’s say you’ve created a streaming Internet station featuring Turkish folk music and you will be hosting 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.

Now, as for your show itself, there are certain conventions which can make listening to it easier whether it’s on a streaming station or a Podcast.

It’s not a bad idea to start with some kind of OPEN which explains what people are about to hear and who they are listening to. If you have a sponsor, this is a good place to mention them.

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