How To Start a Radio Talk Show in 2020

How to start a radio talk show

Starting your own radio talk show gives you the opportunity to get instant feedback and interaction with your listeners and followers.  Your radio talk show can exist as a way to educate and entertain your listeners on a topic you’re passionate about. Here is a roadmap on how to start your own internet radio talk show: the ins, outs, and best tips to making it a success!

How to start a radio talk show microphone

Don’t Be Afraid To Get Started!

You can schedule and start a talk radio show in the Podbean app in mere minutes; much like mentioned in the quick start section of our Podbean 101 webinar, the best way to get better is to jump in with both feet and get started!  

Pick A Topic

Your first step is to pick a topic that you enjoy talking about, and would like to talk to other people about as well. The main draw of a talk radio show is the discussion aspect between the host and listeners. You want to ensure that it’s a topic that allows for good conversation, and doesn’t involve you turning the talk show into just a straight lecture.  

Picking a topic also means ensuring that it has a wide enough range to discuss the life of your radio talk show. Picking a deep, niche topic that only allows for minimal discussion means that your show has no room to grow and expand, or room to dive deeper into a topic through discussion. On the other end of the scale, though, you also don’t want to turn your show into an “anything and everything” show for fear of losing part of your audience to disinterest.

Decide On Your Format

Once you have your topic, you can sit down and figure out the logistics and format for your talk radio show. Such things to decide on include:

  • How long should your talk radio show be?
  • What day(s) of the week would you want to broadcast on?
  • Do you want to have co-hosts to help lead the discussion, or would you like to host on your own?
  • How many segments should your talk show include, and which ones should you feature?

Figuring out the details of your radio talk show will make your show feel more formatted, streamlined, and professional. It also lets you properly plan and schedule your time for your radio talk show to ensure you don’t accidentally overschedule yourself or cut into your broadcasting time.

Each above factor can affect another, so a decision on one could affect another – if you decide to do a co-hosted show, it may cut down what days you can broadcast together or how long you can broadcast together, for example. What’s important when deciding the aspects of your talk show format is your own personal bandwidth. When planning your episodes, you want to take your time and energy into account when planning things out to ensure you’re not overworking yourself to the detriment of your work.

Gather Your Gear

Once you figure out how you’d like to format your talk show, you can start preparing your gear. You can easily broadcast straight from your phone using the Podbean app on your mobile device. It’s a great way to jump in and get started without room to second-guess yourself. The only way to get better is go out and do it – as the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

But as your show grows and develops, you may want to invest in a microphone or an interface, both of which can also be used from your mobile device.  There are different permutations of hardware you can utilize to broadcast, and it’s up to you to decide what works best for you, your budget, and your broadcasting style.

Microphones

Microphones come in all shapes, sizes, and specifications to suit all budgets.  The two key things to note are how they connect with your computer or phone (through the USB port, making it a USB mic, or through an external mixer, making it an XLR mic), and how they pick up and output sound (with popular types of microphones being dynamic and condenser mics).  USB mics traditionally facilitate a plug-and-play style of recording. However, mics that utilize XLR cables will need additional gear in the form of an external interface/mixer and cables to act as a go-between. 

Many microphones are created specifically to work with right with your phone. Many will plug directly into the charging port of your mobile device and will give you professional level audio quality. Some of these phone microphones will also interface with your computer (such as the Samson Q2U), giving you even more capability and versatility to run your radio talk show from anywhere and any type of environment. However, don’t sell your phone’s onboard microphone or headphone mic short, either. Modern phones have high quality microphones built right into them and often times, they (or a pair of headphones, EarPods for example) can deliver a surprising level of quality. However, let’s stick on the topic of microphones for a second.

A brief overview of Dynamic Mics vs. Condenser Mics

Dynamic mics are often considered a rugged, versatile microphone for various situations. Due to their design, dynamic microphones provide high-quality recording and can handle loud frequencies and volumes, as well as can handle various temperatures and climate changes. A dynamic microphone will pick up fewer frequencies than a condenser microphone, but don’t let this take away from your thoughts of if a dynamic mic is right for you. Dynamic mics are great for studio recording and, due to tier sturdy nature, make great remote recording/travel mics.

Condenser mics are more sensitive than their dynamic counterparts in that they pick up more sound and capture a wider array of audio frequencies. A condenser mic will often capture a “closer to real” sound of what it’s recording. However, that also means that condenser mics become more susceptible to damage at higher frequencies/volumes and can often pick up unwanted noise during recording. A condenser also requires external power from an interface (called phantom power).

Mixers/Interfaces

An interface is what you plug your XLR mic into, so you can control how much sound it’s picking up and putting out to your broadcasting software/program.  These interfaces will also have the ability to provide extra power to condenser mics (called Phantom Power or 48Ω), which need external power beyond your computer.  These can be simple one-channel (IE one microphone) interfaces, or interfaces that have multiple channels for multiple mics.  Multi-channel (or multi-microphone) interfaces are perfect for broadcasting multiple people at the same time, so if you have multiple cohosts or anticipate having many guests at once, this would be a good tool to invest in.

Broadcasting Your Radio Talk Show

Once you nail down your format and have your gear gathered, you’re ready to start broadcasting your show!  Here are a few tips to keep your broadcast sounding clean and professional:

  • Use Podbean Livestream’s unlisted format to test your microphone/interface with your interviewees and cohosts.  The unlisted broadcast will give you a chance to experience the interface with the other people in your broadcast to make sure everything sounds the best it can be. It will also give you a chance to plan out any segments that need pre-planning.
  • Even in a radio talk show that’s unscripted and free-form, if there’s something specific you want to cover or say during the broadcast, you should write out some notes for yourself. It will keep your content more streamlined, and also keep you on track instead of fumbling for a thought that you can’t remember.
  • Remember to hydrate and warm up before your broadcast!
  • Cut down on echo by using pillows or blankets against walls to stop soundwaves from bouncing. If you’re in a location that doesn’t allow this, at least work in a more cluttered area – this detritus will break up the soundwaves a bit and cut down on the echo in your audio.
  • Figure out how you’re going to position yourself while broadcasting and do your microphone/tech checks in that position to make sure your sound quality is good while in that position.  Whether you’re standing, sitting, or lying down, you want to make sure that you test how your audio sounds so you can ensure you’re in the right position with your equipment. Also, keep in mind that you’re going to be in this position for all of your broadcasting, so it should be comfortable while also maintaining a good distance with your microphone.

What To Do With Your Audio Post-Broadcast

Once your radio talk show is over, you may be wondering about the fate of your audio.  You can do one of two things:

Publish it directly to an RSS feed: Once your radio talk show has completed, you can upload it directly to an RSS feed and publish it as a podcast episode.  This allows listeners who may not have been able to tune in during the broadcast to still access and enjoy your content.  

Download it as an MP3 for your records/editing purposes: You will also have the option to download your talk radio show as an MP3.  You can either keep it for your records, or you can do any minor editing you think the content needs before uploading it to your host.  

Your talk radio show is a great way to grow and cultivate a dedicated community.  Through Podbean Livestream, you ensure that your audience has the best tools at hand to connect with their hosts.  Get started with Podbean Livestream here!

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