Is it better to repeat your best “A” level content more often or create new material for each break? And, if the answer is to repeat, how often? Recycling is a necessity to ensure the audience gets to hear you at your best. It just makes sense, but an effective recycling strategy is a bit more nuanced. Here’s an introduction to recycling content for a radio show.

Introduction to Recycling

Finding the right formula for how much to recycle will vary from station to station and show to show. Some morning shows essentially create a great one-hour show and repeat it three or four times, with variations from one hour to the next. Other strategies are more selective when picking and choosing content to bring back.

However, everyone should take advantage of content recycling’s benefits. A solid plan involves three aspects: repurpose, Reuse, and Reperform.

Repurpose

A show repurposes content when it uses the same material in a different form. A common example is using a segment on the air as a blog post, video, social media post, or online audio on demand.

Some shows create a daily podcast from the best moments on the air. Some even make the entire show available on demand as a podcast (Yikes! By the way, there’s nothing wrong with this idea, but it’s not user-friendly).

Other common examples of repurposing include:

Highlights: Play special moments of previous segments to feature in promos, show imaging, and as an introduction to other related stories.

Archiving: Save edited versions of great segments for possible use in future Best-of shows. Follow the guidelines for creating and editing segments here.

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Subtopics: Great segments can usually be harvested for new topics. Let’s say a Second Date Update episode takes off. Subtopics can take the topic further

Repurposing content is valuable as long as the topic or source is exciting and truly worthwhile.

Reuse

Replaying a segment as it was initially performed is reusing it. Depending on listening patterns, time spent listening, and other station-specific factors, this can be effective for many shows.

If you have a strong segment early in the show, playing it in a later hour reaches an entirely different audience. The audience is constantly turning over, with listeners tuning in and out. A tiny percentage of listeners will hear a reused segment, and if they do happen to tune in, they probably have forgotten it or will love hearing it again.

Also consider horizontal recycling, where segments are reused at different times on other days. Listeners are creatures of habit and tend to listen at the same time each day. YA terrific break that happens at 6:15 am today could be reused at 8:45 tomorrow because the audience is (mostly) different.

Reperform

Each of the three concepts is valuable as an introduction to recycling content strategy, but reperforming the same topic at a different time is the best method to get started. Most personalities don’t like this because it isn’t interesting to them. But it’s a great way to create original content on relevant topics.

Reperforming the same topic as a fresh, new break is helpful, but it’s not as simple as repeating the same break. Here’s how Repeating and Reperforming differ:

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Fresh Performance: Each segment is about the same source topic but from a different angle or perspective. Great performers curate content and find new, creative ways to entertain listeners, as demonstrated in this seminar.

Each Segment Is New: When reperforming, avoid references such as, “We were talking about this earlier.”  The audience tuned in right now doesn’t care. It’s an irrelevant comment that sends a subtle message that they missed the first part, so it isn’t as important.

It’s Not A Shortcut: Reperforming relevant topics more often. is solid programming, not a shortcut to shorten a show prep meeting. Invest the same amount of time to develop a deeper storyline for each subtopic.

Different Reactions: Personalities lose credibility when they sound surprised by a comment at 7:10 (“Really? I didn’t know that”) that was performed originally at 6:10. For the handful of listeners who hear both breaks, you lose credibility. But then, reperforming means finding a new angle, so this shouldn’t be a problem, right?

Introduction to Recycling Content: Best Practices

Most shows recycle, but virtually every station should recycle more. Here are some principles for maximizing the practice’s benefits:

Only Recycle Great Content. Repeating weak material has no upside. Only repeat the best, A-level content. That should be common sense, but recycling aims to get the most value from your best content.

Edit Carefully. There’s nothing worse than hearing a break from 7:15 on Tuesday being replayed on Thursday at 8:45 with outdated time or day (or year) references. It sounds out of touch and essentially is a commercial that a replay is on. Edit!

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Edit For Relevance: When recycling a segment from April with a comment about what a great spring morning it is won’t fly on a cold, snowy day in November. If you’re recycling for Best Of, listen again to ensure it can play in another season.

Conscience Of the Listener: Remove comments that are out of touch with what is happening now. Listen carefully to each break with the conscience of the listener, who will hear it at a different time and place. Program it as if it were airing for the first time.

Fix Mistakes: This is an opportunity to make the replay better than the original. Edit mistakes and extra lines that don’t need to be there. Some personalities even add lines into a segment to add a great punchline that wasn’t in the original break.

Present It As New. (Almost) never reference the segment as a replay. Nothing can be gained by calling attention to it being a rerun. There are rare exceptions, but for the most part, it isn’t necessary.

Conclusion

Every station should have a recycling strategy. If launching recycling for the first time, start slowly and build it up over time by applying this introduction to recycling content.

Over time, add layers to the recycling strategy with new methods and ideas to get the most value from your best material.