Curriculum: Planning an Exciting Public Affairs Program
PLANNING AN EXCITING PUBLIC AFFAIRS PROGRAM
(Thanks to Ayleen Crotty, Don McIntosh, Marilyn Pittman, Jenka Soderberg & Emily Young
Why Do People Listen to Radio?
People listen to radio to be informed, educated, entertained and comforted. You’re there as the
host to make those things happen as best as you can, and to instill a sense of confidence in
your listeners. That is your duty as an on-air volunteer.
Know Your Team
-- Your KBOO Staff Contact
This will be the AM or PM News/Public Affairs Director. This person is your support contact, if
you need suggestions, want feedback, or have questions, ask your contact.
-- All hosts of the show - On air or not...
Some programs have one host, others have a collective of people. Be sure that everyone
involved in your show is clued in every step of the way.
Develop your own system to:
-Track who is on when...
-What this week/months topic is...
-Who is inviting guests?
-Topics for the Future...
-Who will open the show?
-Who will close the show?
-Who is responsible for station IDs?
--Your Board Operator
The Board Operator, or Board Op, literally runs the show, yet is far too often overlooked as
a key player in the success of the show. The Board Op has responsibilities outside of the
show. they are responsible for playing and reading announcements, letting people in the door,
answering phone calls, staying on schedule, and running the show.
You and the Board Op need to be on the same page about every detail of your show. A well
organized and up-to-date run sheet will help the communication between you and the Board Op.
Tell your Board Op:
-How Many Guests you will have
-If you have pre-recorded audio and how to access it, which track number of the CD, that
kind of thing.
-Are you taking calls? Should callers remain on the line?
-What is on the run sheet?
When you’re live, on the air, you will need to communicate with your Board Op. Sit in a position
that allows you to maintain visual contact. Develop your cues, such as musical fades, no more
-Will the engineer use talk back or hand signals to communicate with you? What are your
- Your Guests
How do you prepare guests for the show? Even if your guest is someone you think will have
a lot of experience, go the extra mile to familiarize the person with KBOO, your show, and
the guidelines (indecency). A well prepared guest can relax, and a relaxed guest is a more
interesting guest. A relaxed mind allows the guest to think more clearly and more in-depth.
Things to tell your guest:
What time to arrive, specifically AM or PM! (Have your guests arrive 15 minutes early to
settle in, have questions answered, and to relieve your stress over if they’ll show up or not!)
Studio address, 20 SE 8th Ave, and how to get in the door
What time the show goes live
How long the guest will be on the show
Who else will be on the air
Types of questions you will ask
Also, encourage your guest to help promote their appearance on KBOO.
PLANNING YOUR SHOW
The best way to ensure a successful show is to plan in advance. Start as early as you can.
Give guests advance notice and plenty of information. Discuss the topic, find guests, research
information. Plan out what will happen during your show.
Some topics are good mostly because they’re timely or newsworthy, but they may not need a
whole program devoted to them. Consider taking on two topics and separating your show into
two sections. It is recommended you clearly define these lines so that you aren’t talking about
two separate issues at the same time, which can be disconcerting for the listener and doesn’t
present a a cohesive show.
Prepare your guest: The Pre-Interview
People who are experts on a topic are not necessarily good radio guests. Conduct a preinterview
over the phone or in person. You do not need to spend a lot of time, or to tell them the
exact questions you’ll be asking on the air, but you do need to get a sense of how the guest will
talk about the issue. Is the guest relevant? Is the topic really a hot topic? This pre-screening is
called “finding the heat”. The “heat” is the heart of the issue and finding it helps you determine
the strengths of your topic and your guest.
Some pre-interview questions:
I’d like to do a show about ________ and I know you’re involved in that. Can I sak you a
few questions about what you know about the issue?
(Then ask the questions).
If you think the person is a good fit, invite them on the show. If you don’t think they’re a good fit,
thank them for their time, and try with another person.
Also, remember to schedule audio diversity. Gender balance, local/national/international, people
of color, and maybe also current v. historical balance. Keeping the guests fresh in all ways...
Write down information.
Write out your introduction, and your closing words so you hit on all the points you want to
mention. Write out who your guess is and what are their credentials for being on the program.
Verify this information with our guest, as well as the pronunciation of their name or title.
Promoting your show
People are more likely to tune into your program if they know if will be on! here are ways you
can promote your show:
-KBOO website: Create a program episode.
-KBOO airwaves: Create an on-air promo.
-Social networking: Twitter, Facebook, etc. Use your own personal account , and
-Send a brief announcement to relevant e-mail lists.
-Hand out flyers at relevant events.
A Runsheet tells you what happens when, and is ESSENTIAL . No show - no matter how
simple - should ever be without one. A Run sheet reminds you how much time you want to
devote to a particular action and what happens at what time. It lets your Board Op and guest
know what to expect. It is a good idea to be open to change during your show so you don’t
miss out on incredible radio moments, but in the absence of some earth shattering dialog or
unexpected cal, stay on top of your run sheet. As soon as you’re off track, so is your Board Op,
which makes it very difficult for then to assist you in having a great show.
Possible Elements of the Runsheet:
-Intro theme song, how long to let it run
-Track numbers of pre-recorded Tracks on a CD
-Length of Pre-recorded audio
-Time when you’ll introduce your guests and start the interview
-When to do the re-cap (name of the show, guests, KBOO ID, topic of the show,
promoting website, etc.)
-Time to wrap up the discussion
-Closing elements (Recap guest, contact information for guest and for you,
-Outro theme song
Preparing your guests on the DAY of the show
They’re here in the studio! You go on the air very soon! Good things to cover:
Have them get in a comfortable position, and put the mic about a fist away from their
mouth, but just a hair off center. Tell the guest they should be comfortable, because we don’t
want them to have to fuss around while they’re on the air. Also, tell them to be mindful of the
table, and tapping, kicking, or other nervous habits. The noise will reverberate and go out over
the air. This is also a good time to figure out how you will communicate on the air, passing
notes? have paper and pen at the ready. Hand signals? Figure out what they are.
Mic Placement: Tell your guest to Speak directly into the mic, and to avoid turning their
head. Warn them that you may be adjusting your mic during the show, and show them how to
use the cough button. This is a great time to also remind them about indecency, and what is
appropriate for KBOO broadcast.
Headphones: They will need to wear headphones to hear callers, and to hear how they
sound. Warn them they may hear the Board Op during talk back, but tell them it’s not going on
the air, and to keep talking.
Callers: There is no need to answer off-topic questions. Tell the guest you will handle it if
the call is off topic. If they don’t know the answer work out a signal, like shrugging shoulders, so
you can help.
Run Sheet: Show your guest the outline of the show, and let them know they can refer to
it during the show if they want, but that you as the host will do the work to follow it. It may make
the guest more nervous to have that information.
Positioning: They should be comfortable at the start, because their won’t be much
opportunity to move around once the microphones are on, and you are on the air.
Communication while on the air: Describe how you will communicate with the guest,
such as passing notes, or hand signals if needed.
Show Day: Preparing yourself on the DAY of the show
-Breathing and vocal exercises, warming up. Stretch, Peter Piper Picked a Peck of
Pickled Peppers. Laugh.
-Have notes (names of guests, songs, books, etc) clear and ready.
-Rehearse your introduction out loud. Project your voice into the microphone. It is easier
for the Board Operator to turn down a loud voice than to turn up a quiet voice.
-Practice saying names OUT LOUD.
Show Day: Your Show is On the Air!
Getting into the show:
-Have a strong segue from the previous show
-Limited use of theme song or promotional spots
-Introduce yourself, the show, the theme, the guests
-Draw listeners in, tell a story, get to the guests, get the show kicking immediately.
Periodically ID your show.
Throughout the show, do any and all of these recaps:
-Your name, the name of the show, names of guests
-Topic or theme of the show
-KBOO ID (Kay Bee Oh Oh, Portland) frequencies, and time of day
Example “You’re listening to the KBOO Bike show. We’re speaking with bike lawyer Ray
Thomas and we’re taking your calls. “
If you have callers:
You are in charge of the dialogue. Do not let callers run the show. KBOO is dedicated to
providing a voice for the public, but you are not required to keep a caller on the air just because
they called in. It is okay to cut off callers. It allows you to have an organized show, keep things
on track, save time for relevant callers, and keep your show interesting for the listeners.
Cutting off callers is not easy, and may be the hardest thing you have to do on your show. The
difficulty is finding a way to break in but sound smooth. the key is to be bold, friendly and to
MOVE ON without hesitation. Don’t let callers steal the show! Watch out for calls at the end of
the show. Don’t take calls in the last five minutes, and be very cautious in the last ten minutes of
Phrases That Help:
Rambling person: “Well, thank you so much for your call this morning”.
Off Topic person: “Thank you for your call. We’re talking about a different issue
this morning. “(address your guest, motion for the engineer to cut the person off) “So Ray,
what’s the most common rule that cyclists have a hard time understanding?”
Having a hard time getting to the point: “I;m not sure the listeners understand
what you’re saying. Can you quickly summarize what you’re trying to ask?”
Remember your audience
You have thousands of people listening to you. Avoid insider lingo and abbreviations. Spell
things out and always explain a concept before launching into it. Take a step back from your
knowledge and be inclusive. You are the host, and just like at a party, it is your job to make
people feel welcome no matter what level of knowledge or interest they have.
Start ending the show with about 10 minutes to go
This gives you time to do a mental recap, and make sure you haven’t missed anything. Do Not
introduce any more complex topics to the program. Don’t worry about squeezing information in
until the very last second of your program. Stop taking calls with about 5 minutes to the end of
the program. Plan what you will say to give your show closure.
“Well, Ray, thank you so much for being on the air with us this morning. We really
PAUSE (time for the guest to say thank you, or some other goodbye)
“You’ve been listening to the KBOO Bike show. Our guest was bike lawyer Ray
Thomas. We are on the air the first Wednesday of every month. Archives of our program
are online at bike show dot Portland transport dot com. Again, that’s bike show dot
Portland transport dot com. Special thanks to Portland Transport for hosting our podcast.
On next months program we’ll be talking about how to choose a bike that’s right for you.
Until next time , make it a great day, and keep riding your bike!”
(Point to Board Op)
(Board Op fades up outro song)
After the show:
If you are not already uploading your program to the KBOO site, you should be. KBOO”s web
assistant can give you a training. The first step is to record your show. The second step is to
get a Log In and Password for the KBOO website. The third step is to upload your audio, with
description and a photo. It is a user friendly system.
An enhanced website is essential to KBOO’s growth into the future. Amazing programs happen
all the time on KBOO, and with web audio people can listen to them at their convenience.
After the show:
Record and listen to your show. Your Board Op can record a CD for you. Blank CDs are sold in
the KBOO vending machine. After a few days, relax at home and listen to your show.
Things to listen for:
-Was I organized?
-Like/And/ Or/ Ah’s/ Um’s - Distracting? Too much?
-Was the information presented clearly?
-How did I handle callers?
-Did I sound confident and polished?
-What could I have done better?
-When did I sound uncomfortable or unprofessional and what can I do to change that?
Best Radio Moments
Recognizing your best show moments can help you identify what works well for you. Think
about shows that have been your favorites because of the guests, callers, or the topic. What
worked? How can you recreate that moment?
Make a plan. Write out 2-3 things you will change on your next program.
TIPS FOR AN IMPROVED SHOW
Listen to other shows
Take note of what sounds good. As long as you’re not talking in a slick, affected radio voice,
you can never be too polished. Listen to commercial and public radio as well as plenty of other
public affairs programs on KBOO. Make notes about what you like and work toward making
those things part of your routine.
Fight the Um, Ah urge.
Practice taking breaths instead.
They Can’t See You
Don’t refer to visual things (Photo on the wall, flyer for event, etc.) unless you can make a
dramatic, brief and relevant description.
Never mention Technical difficulties
It is radio and the audience can’t see you and your problems. When something goes wrong,
chances are the listener doesn’t know, and the listener doesn’t want to know. Do whatever you
can to keep going, uninterrupted, and create a sense that nothing is wrong.
You want your show to have heart and reflect who you are, but you’ll reach out to more people
if you’re organized. Start at the level of being extraordinarily organized and mature, then bring
in your personality. Over time, you’ll see how much more interesting this makes your show. Let
your personality shine, but do it through the lens of professionalism. Instill confidence in your
listeners by presenting a solidly organized program.
A better voice helps you entire show shine. Here are some tips:
-Smile. When you smile, your voice sounds clearer and sweeter, more open and
-Enunciate and speak clearly.
-Avoid reading long passages on the air.
-Have notes available.
-Four Dynamics of good vocal variety:
-PITCH: This is the musical range of your voice, also called inflection. Your voice
should have a wide range of pitch, from low to high, of the ear to stay interested. You can also
think of it as having bass and treble in your voice. Develop pitch by singing before a
presentation, or by practicing your speech using different pitches. By warming up the pitch prior
to the actual presentation or interview your performance will have more expression and,
therefore, hold more interest.
-VOLUME: This is the amount of modulation in your voice, the level of sound.
You will need more air behind the louder sounds, less behind the softer ones. We naturally
increase volume when we want to emphasize a word. volume is a great way to get the listener to
hear our most vital messages. Even using softer volume on certain words can make for a more
dynamic and compelling presentation. Again, practicing this dynamic prior to presenting will give
you greater range.
-TEMPO: This is the rate at which you speak, the actual time it takes to say each
word. Tempo is fast, medium, or slow. Slowing down a word requires stretching the vowel sound
since this is where time exists in our language. you can practice stretching out vowels on key, or
operative words, as a way of enhancing our speaking style. As well, you can also quicken the
tempo when you are giving background information.
-RHYTHM: This is the space between the words, the pauses. A smooth rhythm is
when all the words connect; a jerky rhythm is when you break up your thoughts, or words, with
pauses. A pause before or after a word or phrase makes that word stand out. An effective use of
pausing can really make a presentation easy to follow.
Explain who KBOO People are.
Remember that your audience doesn’t listen to KBOO 24/7. Don’t mention people without
Well, Ani just walked in the room to hand me
Do:(Read the note, then say) I just received news
that the tickets are all gone and we have a
winner. Congratulations to Sarah!
I was talking to Celeste Carey the other day
I was talking with Celeste Carey, the host of
KBOO’s Afrotainment program...
Oh I can see Jennie just walked in to do her
We’ve got about 10 mintues left on the Bike
show. We have time for one more caller...
KBOO Membership Drive
Membership drives are a time when we all come together to ask our listeners for the financial
support necessary to keep the station thriving. About 80% of our funding comes from listeners,
so it’s an extremely important time. If we want listeners to support the station we need to give
them a good reason. What better way to convince them than an incredible program.
-Put all your best organizational skills into the show.
-Get all your ducks in a row.
-Plan well in advance.
-Plan a Hot Topic, one you know your listeners love.
-Promote well in advance.
-Bring on an energetic guest (and Prepare them in advance.)
-Go the Extra Mile.
-Plan for a much shorter program (about 21 minutes for a regular half hour show, about
42 minutes for an hour show).
-Have Fun! Relax!
-Ask listeners, very directly, to support you and your show.
Updated: Dec, 2010 by Erin Yanke