On the menu today...

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I love a good restaurant menu. You can tell a lot by how it's written and the few words they use as to the type of experience you might expect. The best don't reveal too much, just enough to whet your appetite.

A presenter using a 'menu' at the start of a radio show could learn a lot from this. My local station went into a network show the other night and what followed after the news was the longest, dullest and unwanted list of items to come that made me wonder if they had any idea how people listen to the radio at all. It was THREE MINUTES of talking for talking sake. Do they do it because that's what they've been taught and if so, where are the managers, teachers, friends and colleagues that might suggest a better way? Do they do it because they feel comfortable doing it that way or do they do it because they think this is what listeners want to hear?  

The trick is to tempt us to stay tuned without providing an excuse for many to tune out. It is a balancing act of course but one to master like any other skill. The same thing happens when I hear music jocks revealing their next five songs. If I don't like them, it's goodbye to you and hello to your competitor.

Most people tune in because they want company, enjoyment, entertainment, music, information and yes, content that is of interest but the medium is also at its best when it offers up surprises.  

The opening link should be warm, welcoming and sound as if you want to be there. By all means, offer us temptation but do it creatively. The second link may be an opportunity to bring me into the show a little more but please, don't tell me every god damn thing I'm about to hear, tempt me with the sizzle, don't drown me in the fat. Balance what you say with pauses in the right places, and try not to use a music bed that makes listening difficult. Smile when you talk, use inflexion and shade, think about what you say and how you say it.  

There are many people on the air who do a menu of sorts that can keep me interested, but one lasting more than a minute risks sounding like you're reading from a script. The first link is critical, make it one that hooks me in not kills me off. 

Once again, it is the very best that make radio sound so very easy.  To be the best, you have to constantly work at your craft. 

Cyclone Digital