Don’t you just hate it when you have to go into the studio and you’re not prepared? It’s happened to me…and there are only so many times I can pull off a decent programme without doing the hard work beforehand. But you know how I do it? By capitalising on the hard work I’ve done at other times.
I know of people who host radio shows, who just go into the studio cold, and make it up as they go along. As a consumer, I’d never stay for a whole show like that! I want to hear something of value, not a lot of mindless, opinionated rant the presenter is spewing to fill up the time. So that’s why I try to prepare for every show. But if I can’t….
In the days before mobile phones, I would always carry a notebook and pen, so I could write down ideas for features as I came across them in daily life. That book was my brain, and I used it hard. It was a great resource not only for finding contacts or ideas when I was on a roll…but on dry days, I would troll through the book and look for ideas I hadn’t used yet. Those scribbled notes kept me sane…or maybe they kept my listeners sane! Of course, smartphones are much simpler for note-taking…but remember to put your phone on silent if you read from it in the studio!
In those days I would also print off a run-sheet for every programme (including notes about that day’s topics), and keep them in a folder once the show was over. Many’s the time I’d go back and look them over, drawing inspiration from things I’d used in previous programmes. I wouldn’t re-use the same material…but I would let the features spark my creativity to help me generate new content or go in new directions.
Another thing that helped me was my show prep folder; the place I gathered all the articles or scripts I’d prepared, but not used. A flick through those and I might have a half-decent feature ready to go in a couple of minutes.
Doing the hard work every day, and getting into a good habit of finding programme ideas wherever and whenever they occur—that’s what will give you the fuel you need when emergency strikes, and you don’t have time to prepare for your show. But taking short-cuts on prep as a lifestyle…well, that’s a recipe for a bad show.