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Radio Specialty Shows:
More Special Than You Think
Article by Kenny Love

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Radio specialty shows are gold mines, yet, few artists are aware of them, or take advantage of their power. Read the below article to learn how you can put them to great use.

~ kl


A couple of years ago, I was producing and hosting my own weekly radio music show, as well as producing and co-hosting a weekly Gospel show for a friend. My own program was prerecorded, while my friend's was live each Sunday night worldwide.

Both of these shows aired on two different real brick-and-mortar radio stations, as opposed to being Internet-only stations.

And, the common denominator was that, not only did we have primary control over our production and the artists whose music we aired (instead of being told what to play by a music director or programmer), but we also played artists who, possibly, would never have been aired on our stations' main play lists.

Ironically, radio specialty programs such as ours are, for the most part, given very little importance by independent artists and labels. I am of the opinion that the reason, is that such shows often serve as the stepchildren of radio stations, and are also not heavily promoted by their producers, hosts or station music directors.

Often, such shows are independently produced outside of the station. Such was the case with my own show, although my friend's show was produced in-house at his station. I also believe that such shows are not considered because:

1. Independent artists and labels are unaware of their existence.

2. Independent artists and labels are unaware of these shows' major importance in building their careers.

Specialty shows are important to all formats of radio, and not just college formats. From the smallest colleges, to the largest commercial stations, you will find radio specialty programs playing a dramatic role with its listeners.

Specialty shows are often the proving ground for new music, and how independent music emerges through the proverbial cracks of commercial radio, to go on and become some of the largest "hit" recordings of all time.

And, from firsthand experience, I can tell you that more than a few people tune in each week to, either hear their favorite artists (both major label and Indie), listen to their favorite prerecorded music show, or to interact with their favorite host.

Having operated within both prerecorded and live aspects of radio enabled me to see the advantages and disadvantages of each, and from both a producer's, as well as host's standpoints.

<Slightly Off-Topic>

In operating in both prerecorded and live aspects, I can best equate the prerecorded show, whereby, I was able to "fix it in the mix," and all the little mess-ups I made during production, to that of studio recording.

In both instances, the studio is the saving grace, if you will, to presenting and airing a highly polished and impeccably sounding show to your listeners, leaving nothing to chance.

Alternatively, the live aspect left everything to chance. Too much "dead air" (station silence), too often, can spell the ultimate demise of a show.

As such, producers and hosts must run a "tight ship" in insuring that the show avoids the dead air syndrome, from beginning to end, through having enough content for the show's time period.

As producer of the live show, it was my responsibility to insure that there was enough content to eliminate the possibility of "dead air."

With my own prerecorded show, I was simply "spinning records," with very little narration, aside from introducing artists to the audience.

However, in producing my friend's live show, in addition to airing music, we also filled the weekly 4-hour time slot with trivia, news, listener call-ins, interviews, reviews, upcoming events and more.

The advantage of a live show, again, is the interaction with real time listeners, the ability to host live interviews with artists (both in-studio and via telephone) and the sheer excitement that comes with on-air spontaneity.

<On Topic>

As an independent artist or label vying for radio exposure, one of the best tools to use for promotion, is the radio specialty program.

Finding such programs is very easy to do at college radio stations. In fact, most college stations' very essence is based on various specialty shows, which you might also hear referred to as "block programming."

To discover various college specialty shows, one need only review such on college radio web sites, then begin contacting the respective producers and/or hosts that are associated with the program.

For other radio formats, such as Non Commercial and, particularly, Commercial, it gets a bit tricky as you will often find yourself digging deeper to discover such shows, as well as the need to contact station programming departments via telephone to learn of such shows.

As an independent artist or label with no radio connections, given the choice of having my music gain airplay and notoriety via specialty shows, versus, venturing down a treacherous path to station music directors directly, and who are already overwhelmed with music, I would take the radio specialty show path any day.

Also, if you have a potential "hit" (who doesn't?), it is highly likely that the specialty show producer or host will take it on as a "pet project" in bringing it to the attention of the station's music director for regular rotation consideration on your behalf.

Such an influential and "inside connection" carries far more weight in potentially exposing your music to the masses than you could ever hope to establish on your own.

And, when duplicating this process to hundreds of radio markets, you can probably see how working the radio specialty market can become your most prized asset.


Kenny Love has an extensive background in both the Music and Writing industries. Learn about the new services that he is providing to unsigned and independent recording artists in response to today's shaken and fractionalized Music industry by sending an email request to klmubiz@getresponse.com.

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