John Simons, International Consultant for Simo Radio offers tips and guidelines to producing and hosting a breakfast show that stands out in what he calls the crowded and competitive market. He started off the talk by offering ten tips that should be on every breakfast producer or host’s checklist before going to offer additional pointers on how one can move their breakfast show from ordinary to extraordinary.

Here are 10 ways to tell if your breakfast show is the real deal.

1. Early arrival. You need to get the team together on time before the show starts to make sure that everyone is on the same page before going on air, otherwise, you will get lost. Simon says it’s important for the show team to arrive a minimum of 45 minutes prior to the show starting and that a post-show meeting every day is necessary to do an autopsy of the show.

2. Have one major planning session every two weeks. The everyday runnings of a show can make it easy to forget the importance of planning ahead of time and making sure that you already have things in lined up for the show way ahead of time. It is important to think further ahead.

3. Have a set of team rules. This is important especially when one has a big team. “It’s important that everyone knows what they are responsible for and what they are bringing to the table”, he says. It’s also important to write it down to make sure that there’s no misunderstanding.

4. Have a planning sheet for the next day’s show. It’s essential to have a planning sheet that gives you an overview or a glance at the next days show after each show.

5. Prepare your callers. Getting well-prepped listeners on air is key to having a good show. You can prepare your listeners by telling them to turn down their radios when they are on air and to make it clear to them what the topic is about so your engagement with them can be clear and direct.

6. Prepare at least 2 great stories about your own life for every show. If you are prepared to come on air and stand a good chance, you have to have personal anecdotes to relate to your listeners. It’s important to add a personal element to relate to your listeners, through stories that particularly relate to the subject. Audiences are not interested in automated presenters, they want human beings with feelings and stories they can relate to.

7. The show must be famous for something. If you want to be famous in the breakfast slot, you have to have something unique or that you do very well which you are known for. This can range from prank calls, rescues and charity events. This can be anything, but every show has to have some unique value that one is bringing to the listeners which is unique to your particular show.

8. Respect the music. Imposing your personality on the breakfast slot is difficult because of the nature of the crowded and competitive market. You have to fight to assert yourself and one of the quickest ways presenters use is cutting the songs. Rather edit songs down instead of cutting them halfway or speaking over songs because that really annoys the listener. If you have compelling content, you can also take songs out, but don’t heck songs.

9. Do a planned hook and tease going into every ad break. You have to care that the listeners will carry on listening and one way of ensuring this is by doing a hook and tease with going into every ad break. Don’t take this for granted. ‘Script your hook tease until it’s in your psyche,’ he says. Telling people what’s coming up is not enough, you have to give them value to stick around. Increase the TSL (time spent listening), which means you increase your market share. It’s much easier to have someone who is already listening than it is to get a new listener, so invest more in your current listeners.

10. Bring a sense of soap opera to the show every day. Give listeners a sense of continuation of the show by telling them what to expect the next day. Don’t take it for granted that because they are tuning in they will automatically tune in again the next day. Offer your listeners value to come back by and a sense of continuation of the show.

Emphasising the importance of preparation and rehearsal, Simons says, “real professionals lock their materials down to tight that it sounds like it’s coming off the top of their head”. Here are 4 additional points worth taking into account when producing or hosting a breakfast show.

1. Prepare
Combine material around you to produce interesting, compelling, engaging and entertaining ways. Anything can be a topic, you have to be alert to that and make sure you are well prepared to tackle that subject matter. You can never over prepare.

2. Rehearse
It is important for presenters to practice, which can cover a multitude of sins, he says. “Real professionals lock their materials down to tight that it sounds like it’s coming off the top of their head,” he says. Read scripts aloud.

3. Edit
Find tighter more effective and powerful ways of communicating with your listeners. “All the great writers you know throw away ten times more than words than they by the time you read their book”. In radio, you never stop learning and the economy of words is something you constantly have to work on improving.

4. Perform
This is the fun part, enjoy presenting your material to your listeners.

Simon’s series of ones that’ll change your breakfast show from okay to great.

  • 1 thing per quarter hour that commands attention. This can be an interesting call, attention or conversation about the weather if the necessary.
  • 1 item per that causes a response. This can in the form of a contest. An interesting topic. A primal theme about emotive topics such as relationships, jealousy and love.
  • 1 thing per day that is shareable. This is a bit broad but it has to be something that’s informative and engaging that listeners will want to share with their family and friends in conversation. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing and it doesn’t cost you thing.
  • 1 thing per quarter that listeners remember. A campaign that runs for a week, or a rescue that is prolonged overtime or following certain journies.
  • 1 thing per year that makes you legendary. This ranges based on the personality and interests of the producer and host, but this can be in the form of a legendary and honest interview. Or honestly talking to the listeners about a hard subject.