Each listener spends far less time listening to your radio show than you think. They’re constantly tuning in and out, searching for the most compelling, interesting, funny, and provocative content that satisfies them right now. Since these are indisputable facts, doesn’t recycling content more often and providing only “A” level segments make sense? That’s how programmers schedule music. Why would it be any different for content? Maybe you should consider a one hour radio show performed four times.

The One Hour Radio Show

Here are the relevant factors that make a one hour radio show performed four times a model for success:

Listening Levels: Your best listeners tune in for about three quarter hours per day and just two days per week.

They Miss Most Of Your Show: Those listeners – your P1s – miss 93.5% of your show.

Cumers Miss Almost ALL of It: Secondary listeners (comers) tune in about 2.5 minutes per occasion.

A four-hour show with four primary content segments per hour produces 16 pieces of original content per day. Name another industry that expects that kind of production. You can’t. It doesn’t happen because producing that much genuinely great content that cuts through the clutter and resonates with listeners is impossible.

The result is usually a show with occasional “A” level content, but it’s mostly “B” and “C” material. As a result, the majority of the audience hears weaker content.

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When the Show Starts And Stops

Now, consider how radio listeners use the radio. They don’t tune in when your show starts or tune out when it ends. To them, your show starts when they turn it on, and it ends when they tune out. You are not performing a linear show but one that is constantly used as a commodity. It’s unlike a television show, movie, or online video.

Most personalities view their show as a three- or four-hour program. That’s only true for you, not for your audience. Doesn’t it make sense to program the content so it fits their usage pattern?

The Model Is not a Novelty

This is not a new phenomenon. Radio listening has always been transient. Smart programmers recognized that 60 years ago. News Radio 1010 WINS in New York built their brand around the positioning statement, “Give Us 22 minutes, and we’ll give you the world.”

They recognized the public’s short attention span and the premium placed on their time, which started in the 1960s. Today’s listeners are even more challenging to attract and retain.

Programmers have learned to adjust music programming to reflect short listening patterns. It’s not unusual to hear three or even four songs by a current hit artist (Morgan Wallen, Beyonce) in one hour. Some broadcasters are shocked (and afraid) by this, but artist separation that matches actual listening is smart programming. When each listener tunes in, there’s a greater chance of hearing a favorite song.

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It’s happening all around us. Turn on any news channel, and you’ll hear the hot stories within a minute or two because they are programmed to the usage patterns and expectations of the audience. You go elsewhere if they’re not playing the “hits” – the most provocative, interesting, topical stories. You won’t sit through “B” and “C’ content to wait for the good stuff.

TV morning shows are programmed for short listening periods. Study NBC’s Today Show. It is programmed like a radio show, with dynamic personalities talking about the most top-of-mind stories with personality mixed with information. It’s on television, but it’s programmed for audio first. There are other examples on your local TV stations.

Benefits Of The One Hour Radio Show

There are many reasons this approach works:

Familiar: It creates a familiar listening environment. Listeners will become conditioned to know what to expect, but the delivery will differ each day. The combination of familiar yet surprising is powerful.

Focus: Personalities can master the content because there will be fewer new organic segments to fill. Present “A” material to create a better listening experience in every segment.

Features: By building mini-brands (features) into the one hour radio show, you have a much better chance of being memorable. Over time, this creates more quarter-hours and increases your fan base.

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Dangers Of This Approach

There are only three things that get in the way of this becoming a success, and they’re all internal:

Personalities Sounding Bored: Radio is the only medium that allows the talent to change programming strategies because of their personal feelings. A pro understands they’re performing to build an audience and lead a fan base. You can’t do that by placing a priority on entertaining yourself.

Programmer Bias: Programmers don’t listen like real people. They listen more, skip the songs and commercials, and pay close attention to every spoken word. They share the natural tendency to become bored or complacent with a narrower content approach, even if they know each segment is more robust.

Lack Of Commitment: Some shows will naturally think that if they’re creating less original content, they can skate by with a fraction of the prep, but that’s not the case. It requires the same amount of time and preparation, but you’ll be investing that time into making the segments famous on the air, online, and social media.


This makes sense and should be required for all morning shows trying to break through and create a footprint in the market. But it’s not just for new or emerging shows. This model applies to virtually everyone.

For a detailed explanation of the one hour radio show and a discussion of how to prepare, promote, and execute this concept, go here.