From where I sit On The Kowch, I’m hearing the same three mistakes talk show hosts make whenever I listen to talk radio in Canada and the United States. It used to be inexperienced talk show hosts made these mistakes. Today, these mistakes have become a new trend in talk radio. And I don’t like it!
I don’t know who to blame for these mistakes. Is it the talk show host or the talk radio program director? Whoever it is, they’re responsible for creating bad talk radio. It’s time for talk show hosts to get back on track and stop making these three mistakes:
Mistake #1: Talk Show Host Doesn’t Have An Opinion
Talk radio is the most exciting format on the AM radio dial. It is home to some of the most talented and influential individuals on radio today. This is mainly because the format is all about the host. It’s all about you! It’s all about your opinion!
Lately, I am hearing too many talk show hosts shy away from giving their opinion on the topic they are discussing.
This is the #1 mistake I hear on talk radio today.
To stand above the crowd a talk show host has to stake out his or her position on the topic. You need to be brave and state your opinion. You need to be critical and question everything. You need to be fearless! You should never back down from an argument.
Listeners tune into talk radio to hear what the host has to say about what is going on in their community. When something happens, your listeners can’t wait to hear you give your opinion about it on the talk show. That’s why they tune into the show.
When you don’t offer an opinion on the topic you’re discussing, you disappoint your listeners. When you make that mistake, listeners search for a talk show host on another radio station who has an opinion about the topic they’re interested in.
Mistake #2: Replacing Opinions With Questions
Talk show hosts get lost in the crowd when they have no opinion and just asks questions! Q&A radio may work at the CBC, but it’s the #2 mistake on talk radio stations. Talk radio is not about questions. It’s about polarizing the issue with your opinion to prompt listeners to call the show and debate you.
Only about five percent of listeners to a talk show actually call in. You have to give them a reason to call in. Asking a question isn’t the best way to generate calls. Stop asking your listeners questions and start telling them what you think to get the phones ringing.
Mistake #3: Stealing The Listener’s Thunder
The third big mistake talk show hosts make is telling listeners what the caller is going to say before putting them on air. It drives me crazy! It ruins the call.
Talk show hosts aren’t clairvoyants! They know what the caller is going to say because the producer screening the calls to the show, posts a message on the computer in the studio to let the host know what the callers want to say. This is a tool for the host to choose the callers with the best reaction to their opinions. To prepare the host on how to respond in order to create compelling talk radio.
I believe when a caller gets on the air, they become the co-host of the talk show for the duration of the call. A host would never steal their co-host’s thunder by beating them to the punch with what they want to say. So why would a talk show host do that to their caller?
What’s the point of putting someone on air after telling the audience what they’re going to say. It robs the listener of the opportunity to hear the excitement and the passion of a caller responding to the opinion of the host.
From where I sit On The Kowch, someone is whispering in the ear of talk show hosts or talk radio programming directors that’s it’s now okay for hosts to not express an opinion, to only ask questions and to tell listeners what the next caller is going to say on air.
So I have no choice but to shout at these talk show whisperers: YOU’RE WRONG! TALK RADIO IS ABOUT OPINIONS, NOT ABOUT ASKING QUESTIONS. TALK RADIO IS ABOUT LETTING CALLERS SPEAK THEIR MIND AND NOT HAVING HOSTS TURNING WHAT CALLERS WANT TO SAY ON AIR INTO A TEXT MESSAGE.
Click here for more about my formula to do great talk radio.
Steve Kowch ran two of Canada’s largest newstalk radio stations in Montreal and Toronto for more than 14 years. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Making It BIG In Media that has an entire chapter on talk radio.
Contact Steve at 647-521-6397 or email [email protected]