Do you want to be a great talk radio host? I have several years of experience, contributing to shows about local sports and politics. I’m not well-spoken, will never achieve greatness in that medium, and rarely listen to talk radio, but offer some wisdom to those interested. Many radio shows take callers, but that’s trash content. If someone has a four-hour radio show five times per week, they’ll struggle to create 20 hours of quality programming. Callers fill airtime usually at the expense of quality.
What’s frustrating is when someone calls in with an unrelated topic or someone asking what’s the subject we are covering tonight so they can add their uninformed opinion to the discussion. During a segment about South Shore bar pizzas, someone once wanted to discuss January 6. My opinion of January 6 is that Trump, who I supported, lied, people died, and discouraging elderly Americans and working parents from voting early and by mail during a pandemic was a terrible strategy that brought us an awful president. But the last thing I want to do when discussing pizzas is explain to someone that Dinesh D'Souza is a conspiratorial moron whose entire shtick is historical revisionism to convince people that Democrats are the real racists—one of the worst lines Republicans use.
If I were the primary host of a show, there would be no calls.
Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission prohibits broadcasting profane content between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. when "there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience," according to its website. It means that if you swear on the radio during this time, the station may receive a fine; I know people who’ve violated this rule; the station received a fine under $40.
I recommend finding creative ways to swear. One alternative to saying a word like “fuck” or “shit” is to spell them. If your co-hosts are discussing a topic of little interest to you, let them and the audience know that you do not give an F-U-C-K or an S-H-I-T about this segment. I recently did a segment about national political polls that show independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. polling at 22, 19, and 17 percent, respectively. While I doubt these polls, media analysis from USA Today, Politico, and others claims that RFK Jr. will pull more votes from Donald Trump than Joe Biden. I rhetorically asked the co-hosts and the audience: why the F would anyone who voted for Trump back a guy who supports the Green New Deal and reparations for slavery, thinks vaccines cause autism, and has the last name Kennedy?
Controversy has its benefits on local radio. Some anonymous coward who mailed the station a complaint letter gave a show I’m on a segment worth of content. The letter’s author complained that I said Elizabeth Warren went off the reservation with one of her dogmatic political proposals that not even Biden supported. The whiner said this was offensive to Native-Americans, though the reference was how Warren is a pretender. Listeners appreciated the main host reading the letter and dedicating a segment to critiquing the person who sent the letter.
The hosts of shorter shows must prioritize clock management and gear the shows to the audience, not themselves. Nobody cares where you watched the Super Bowl, what you think of Taylor Swift, or your thoughts on some obscure Star Wars character, nor do they want to hear you sing on the air. Too many personal anecdotes from people who love the sound of their voices result in less time to address substantive matters.