Programming for Radio


A Broadcasters’ Roller Coaster

How CBS Presenters can leverage competition.

Abu Kawenja. Bwakedde Mpulira.

The Industry is poised to change. Internal management /human resource aspects are changing. Competition is stiff, the economy experiences a slump in growth yet the presenter is expected to deliver and attract more advertisement revenue.   (Give and Take-Staff meeting). Advancements in Technological have greatly changed the playing field and public sphere.   Regulation and policy changes may not be in our favor.  Digital migration will lead to media proliferation. This calls for pro active strategies for stake holders.  As a presenter, what should you add, to “up” your craft?

Improve your creativity. How?

  • ·         Immerse yourself into your show, by prepping more than you can use in the few allotted hours.  Be inspired, innovate, consult, share, brain storm, and encourage research.  
  • ·         Have Fun. Radio is fun. Experience and discover
  • ·         Think in pictures. Imagine the un imaginable.(Politics). Stupidity highly works for radio. (Oyitirizza)

Passion and Confidence.

  • Love your Job. This ia also as a result of personal satisfaction, having attained some of your goals in life, then the job makes meaning and purpose to an individual. you(attitude, Level of satisfaction)
  • Going against conventional wisdom.  Break the rules and be different. We have different abilities. Try to be yourself and the listener will love you for that.

Personality: You are your own brand. How you are regarded by peers, society, colleagues, management, listeners.  Radio jobs will be maintained by people who make themselves so valuable to management, they are a force to reckon with and management cannot do without them. A presenter should not only receive their wages at the end of the month but should also come up with ideas and activities that generate money for the company. Be competitive, try to win awards for performance.  (Business wise e.g. Kanyomozi and Golola, be competitive, win awards)

Relevance and interaction/Exposure.  : (Improve your listeners capacity, the days idea, CSR). (Kampala ne miriraano) Social media, websites, Blogs, New media and social media are here to stay. All you need is to be a willing learner. Remember, the client is interested in actual numbers and not estimates. In Uganda, the lack of research makes it a little hard to make business decisions. You can use your face book page to build a loyal fan base. You can also generate topics to blog about through constant interactions with your fans, plus connecting your radio show to the social media by a simple click of a button. This way, you can tell how many people visit your page.


Knowledge of radio craft: Presenters today should have their own recording suits, because of the back log experienced by production assistant. They are equally busy, so learn how to do some production work yourself. All you need is a simple computer and microphone.  You can record, edit, experiment with sounds and themes in your comfort zone.  

Politics Vs. Entertainment.   The political landscape is fragile and could get worse as we approach 2016. You have to be careful least you are usurped by the events of the day. Your allegiance, support and association with particular candidates may cost you your job. This is a win/ lose situation. Catch 22. This all depends on you.

Symbiotic relationship.  Why do you love CBS FM? Why do you wake up every other day to come and work? There has to be a reason. If you do not have one, please find one. Although this may be against the regulations, I believe management will understand and  should pardon  you  for this one great reason for coming to work.


  I question and soul search constantly into myself to be as certain as I can that

I am fulfilling the true meaning of my work, that I am maintaining my sense of purpose,

That I am holding fast to my ideas, That I am guiding my people in the right direction.’’


Producing and Hosting a Winning Political Talk Show

By Rachael Mugarura and Bernard Tabaire

 Extracted from LIVE ON AIR             By African Centre for Media Excellence, Kampala, 2011

 To put out a good political talk show, the host and the producer must gain a clear grasp of the issues. One cannot be a political talk show host and be uninterested, or have a passing interest, in public affairs. Interest in public and current affairs has to be a passion, an obsession even. The issues in the news usually form the basis for analysis on talk shows. Public anniversaries, government or company reports, are some of the other sources for issues to discuss on the shows. But hosts and producers also need to know their market; and they need to pay attention to diversity of voices/views. Bias does not lead to informed public debate that in turn leads, or should lead to informed choices by the citizenry. In many case, a well – prepared political talk show host is a confident political talk show host.

The Issues

 Former talk show host Kalundi Serumaga divides issues into three broad but interconnected categories: the primary is the most fundamental and deals generally with poverty and seeks to interrogate how politics can improve t he lot of the masses. The secondary category delves into the legal and institutional framework and its ability to deliver to eliminate poverty. The third is the tactical, having to do with the question of who, amongst people running for public office, can do a better job. In the context of the election campaign campaigns, hosts and producers could get abreast the issues using various sources.

 Reading the party manifestos

  • Comparing current and previous manifestos
  • Paying attention to what the candidates say on the campaign trail.
  • Reading the electoral laws
  • Readingelectoral regulations – code of conduct for political parties (even if it is unlikely to be passed before election day)
  • Talking to the candidates, their campaign managers, experts, and critics.
  • Studying current and previous electoral facts and figures.
  • Reading research reports that have been issued a head of the elections.
  • Reading opinion poll findings.

 The Personalities

 To understand the candidates, and other talk show guests, a host and a producer could do several things,

  • Pore over previously expressed views by the candidates or guests.
  • Study how the candidate, or whatever guest, has dealt with political interviews before.
  • Gain some insight into the personality of a candidate or guest by reading up on his or her biography/profile, talk to family, friends, colleagues, ex – colleagues, bosses, schoolmates.

 Studying up on your panelists, if having a panel, allows you to introduce each by focusing on the relevance of the guest to the topic at hand – not everything he or she has done.

 Understanding your audience

The listener

 It is important for anyone involved with a radio or TV program to be sure who is listening or watching in terms of age, sex, education, economic status, and geographical location. It is because about 50% of members of every radio population consider themselves occasional listeners. Aim to reach at least 45% of your occasional listeners.

 Targeting multiple audiences.

 Day parting:     Divide the day into several parts during each of which a different type of radio program is aired. It is often targeted towards a particular demographic.

 Theming:         Having special theme days, for example, Christmas, Independence, world Aids Day, elections around which to build a program or a series of programs, including talk shows.

 Stacking:          Used to develop audience flow by grouping together programs with similar appeals in order to take the listener from    one program to the next.

 Counter programming: Use of a program whose appeal is significantly different from usual programming because it is of a different genre or appeals to a different demographic.

 Tent poling:     Scheduling lesser – known programs on either side of a popular mass – audience series /program in order to draw in listeners. (The opposite of ham mocking).

   Cross programming:     The interconnection of two shows. This is achieved by dragging a story   line over two episodes of two different programs.

 Hot switching:              programmers eliminate all commercial breaks when one program ends and another begins to hook the audience into watching the next programs without a chance the channel between programs.

Successful radio programming.

 Does your program attract and retain the listener’s attention? Longevity is not necessarily a sign of success. The indicator of success is the number of listeners.

  • Does your program offer diversity – in content, voices, sounds, points of view, styles of presentation?
  • Are you relevant? Do you know your audience, their interests, and needs?
  • Preparation – do research into topics that you will present on, plan your timing and words (this is essential in radio), the angle, and point of view that you have.
  • Experiment – experiment with new ideas, test them against the audience and see how they respond. At the same time be consistent – too much change will disillusion your audience as to what to expect from your show.

 The process

 Good talk shows do not just happen. The talk show may be an hour or two but for it to be successful, deliberate planning lasting much longer should have gone into it earlier on. A prominent political talk show producer with an FM station inKampalaoutlined his planning process.

 Picking the topic. In deciding what to discuss, the producer scans newspapers, radio and TV stations, and the internet to determine what is in the news. In so doing, he zeroes in on a specific news report that is likely to have people talking. This he arrives at by bearing in mind what the station’s, or even more specifically the talk shows, target audience is and wants. In so doing, he is keeping the station relevant. “Our target audience is interested in money, in sports, and in politics especially governance and stability issues,” he said. So news that touches on these aspects is likely to inform the subject for the talk show.

  • Research. Once the topic has been selected, the producer gathers more facts and other information beyond what is reported in the news. One needs researched information to be able to sustain a show for the one or two hours. On top of gathering facts and figures, the producer also may notice potential guests for the show. For example, if some one made an interesting comment weeks or months or even years earlier on the topic, the producer may decide to invite such a person to be a guest on the talk show. Other potential guests could be people in the news currently or experts in the subject. Also, should the producer come across relevant clip, he keeps and prepares it for use during the show.
  • Consulting with the host. With the research done, the producer consults with the talk show host/moderator. Sometimes the producer may have chosen two topics, so consultations help narrow things down to one topic. The other reason for consulting the host is to make sure that the chosen topic is one he or she is interested in and possibly is passionate about. One risks a dull show if the host does not care about the chosen topic. They also agree the general angle to take on the show.
  • Booking guests. With the topic agreed upon, the producer then runs through his contracts list and telephones potential guests inviting them to the program. If the discussion is going to be more of a debate, then he ensures that guests represent both sides of the argument. If it is going to be more of an informative show, then he may decide to invite one or may be more of an informative show, then he may decide to invite one or may be two knowledgeable people. But the show may take a clear – cut question and answer format as well. Again, the most appropriate guest is invited.
  • Preparing the cue in. to tie everything up, the producer prepares a cue in for the talk show host. The cue in includes talking points / issues that the show will address. For a one hour talk shoe, there will be three talking points, one for each quarter with the last quarter reserved for taking views from the listeners. The cue in, which is ready by the presenter, also indicates whether the show is sponsored and, if so, by whom a brief profile of the guest (s) and the mode of participation by listeners whether they will phone in or send text messages. With that done, the show rolls.

 The producer:

  • Turns ideas into reality.
  • Keeps the host organized and on schedule
  • Participates in the show’s prep sheet
  • Maintains a weekly planner and updates files
  • Keeps updated lists of regular callers, celebrities, experts
  • Serves as liaison with all other departments, including legal and risk management.

 What makes a good talk show hosts?

  • The ability to connect with the audience. Understand the background and motivations of core listeners and respond to those characteristics
  • “Personality is to a radio host what perfume is to a flower.” A radio talk show host without flair or the job will only last so long in the business. No one wants to listen to hosts sound bored and would rather be anywhere but on their own show. There is a reason why you listen to your favorites hosts. Sure, they are knowledgeable and entertaining, but most of all, they have a personality that draws you in and keeps you there. The best show hosts draw people in because they are able to reveal something of their personality that is attractive. We consider them our friends because they are like us, we love them or we hate them. If we no longer care for them, we stop listening to them.
  • Know your subject. Many hosts inUgandarely heavily on their guests for information on the topic being discussed. Spoon feeding an adult is grotesque.
  • Do not dominate the discussion. An interview is a two way conversation.
  • Adapt to changing market dynamics. The radio market is evolving. Don’t be a dinosaur. You will go extinct.
  • Being a good radio host takes time and practice. Listen to hosts who do it well, develop your own style, and enjoy what you do.

 On air conduct

 Seek clarification, to re ask essential questions

  • Focus the debate, to highlight a central issue
  • Recognize and emphasize facts as opposed to opinions. This is especially important in a heated campaign season.
  • Encourage reflection
  • Identify, synthesize and articulate public opinion
  • Rephrase and reframe an issue, approaching it from another angle to get a real answer.
  • Direct discussion towards positive aspects, instead of just highlighting the negatives
  • Identify positions and move antagonists towards shared interests.
  • Enliven a serious debate, always remembering: the public is listening.


 Below, current and former talk show hosts share insights and tricks that have worked for them.

 Kalundi Serumaga (ex spectrum – radio one)

 As hosts, you should demonstrate a pathological lack of interest in the fortunes of your guest. You should not care. Yes, you may have a side. But try to not have one.

  1. In the context of elections, a good and detailed memory going back to previous statements and campaigns is essential.
  2. Have a clam, dispassionate disposition because guests will try to bring you to their side, to animate you. You may loose control of the show. Always remember there is life after elections.
  3. You ought to have a broader view (and principles) of things to anchor any questions. I believe that not one political organization can solveUganda’s problems. So any one politician I interview and push his/her own line has already fallen short.

 Peter Kibazo (Issues at Hand – WBS TV)

  1. Be aware of the issues and their ramifications – issues behind the news, not so much issues in the news.
  2. How much contact/ relationship you create with the political players without getting compromised is important. They have to feel that they can come to a show and be challenged, but also get to make their point/case. This comes from the credibility you build over time the political players must have a sense that you will ask the right questions.

 Patrick Kamara (On the Sport – NTV)

  1. To be an effective talk show host is to be an effective researcher. During election campaigns, remember you are talking to people who are savvy.
    • Research the guest by talking to those who agree with him or her and those who do not agree with him or her. It is not enough to go to Google, or Wikipedia.
    • Research the subject – read, talk to experts.

 Watch out for the tendency, especially by politicians, to not answer the question. Some are very skilled.

  1. Listen carefully to be able to ask the intelligent and penetrating follow up question.
  2. Remember that the best or worst interview occurs even before the cameras roll – the battle is won or lost there.

 Andrew Mwenda (ex Andrew Mwenda Live –KFM)

  1. Read the candidates’ manifestation so that you can question them on the manifestos and their ability to deliver on the promises contact therein.
  2. Find out whether the candidate who is your guest is knowledgeable about the subject. If someone talks about allocation of money to this or that, does he know how the budget is made, how monies are allocated? Does he know about out comes?
  3. Be a referee and insist that whoever kicks the leg instead of the ball gets a red cad. Insist that the guest addresses the issues not the person (opponent).

 Robert Kabushenga (ex Capital Ganga – Capital FM)

  1. A talk show host must have a high level of confidence to be able to match – up against the guest, especially if that guest is a presidential candidate. But how do you build that level of confidence? It is through research. Research the issues, research the candidate’s position on the issues, how the candidate has dealt with interviews before.
  2. You also have to know your audience, so as to know how to drive the show and keep and grow it.
  3. You must have the authority to manage the show so that it does not drift. You must be ready to call a guest’s bluff, ask follow – up questions, and protect other panelists from an undisciplined guest. You have to be in total control. If a guest is becoming a nuisance, using hate language, abusive language, take a commercial break, throw him or her out of the studio, or simply shut down the show.



Programming to Win

by Dave Beasing

I don’t have to tell you that a lot of talented radio programmers are out of work.  The Great Recession hit our industry early, and it looks like our recovery will be late at best. If you’re still employed – putting confidence aside – you can’t help but wonder, “Why have I been spared?”  Talking with your unemployed friends, you think, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” 

So, to learn a little about self-preservation, I decided to ask this very question of some recent job applicants, some of whom have been unemployed for months or years.  “Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently that might have helped you keep that last job?”  Answers have varied, but a common theme emerges.  In radio, especially in recent years, we’ve all been so busy keeping our station brands afloat that we haven’t worried about our own personal brands.  Of course, putting your company first in priority is admirable.  But if you’re really good at what you do, if your employment provides a good return-on-investment, doesn’t your company benefit by knowing that?  Likewise, your having a stronger industry profile is good for business, too.

Who do you want to know about you?  Program Directors, Group Execs, Label Execs, Talent?  Don’t aim too high – or too low.  One of the oft missed opportunities is keeping in touch with the people you’ve already influenced earlier in your career.   Who has the power and in whose self-interest is it to help you?  Each target requires a specific marketing effort of its own, so choose carefully.


Who are you?  Economic realities have forced many to rethink the basic premise of what they do for a living and how they do it.  The time to have that heart-to-heart with yourself is now, rather than waiting until you suffer a setback.   What are you good at?  What’s your passion?  What gets you out of bed in the morning?  While you continue to do exemplary work in all areas, how can you focus just a little more on the one thing that sets you apart?  Do you have a unique talent that others in your organization appreciate? 


As a programmer, you know that the station positioning slogan not only helps the audience understand your station, it’s a great internal mission statement, too.   Even if you don’t actually tell your target that you’re “The Best Programmer of the 80s, 90s and Today,” having your own personal positioning statement can help you stay focused.


 What’s the best way to reach each target on your list?  Is it sharing great ideas by email, attaching a truly exceptional memo or promo?  Sending holiday cards or birthday cards?  Forwarding articles of definite interest?  Will you create a Facebook page that displays your professional side (and omits the beer bong pictures and bad jokes)?  If you’re already interacting with a target, you may simply need to improve the quality of your communications.   Prepare talking points before every conversation. 


None of this is meant to suggest that radio’s unemployed have themselves to blame.   Clearly, they’re victims of shrinking opportunities.  They’re also victims of a changing workforce.  If your father’s generation showed up on time, worked hard, did what they were asked and didn’t cause trouble, they were probably assured of a long career and a healthy retirement.   Dad was a hard working, loyal, company man at a time when that was all that was asked – and that was a lot.  Today, you have two options:

      1.  Provide services others can provide, only cheaper. 

      2.  Provide an essential service no one else can.

            The choice is simple.


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