How to develop a dynamic radio special

Creating unique and engaging broadcast specials can shake up show schedules and entice new listeners.
Date Published
02/05/2016

Nonprofit stations often have strictly regimented programming that appeals to listeners and stays consistent. Whether those topics are local news, politics, music, other charitable organizations or small editorial shows and broadcasts, local radio stations may find it difficult to add variety to programming when the primary consumer loves the station as-is. While some stations implement radio specials, interviews and podcasts, a nonprofit organization should also consider a slightly different audience for a unique radio special and advertise accordingly. Unsure where to begin? Take a look at the deeper benefits of creating specialized content from a brand perspective. 

“Specialized broadcasts will keep listeners tuned in.”

Why should my radio special differentiate from regular programming?
Consider a slight change in radio programming a smart step for your organization in multiple ways. First, specialized content can help reduce bounce rates from your station or programming. What is a bounce rate? It is the rate in which a viewer or listener stays or “bounces” off your broadcast or page. According to Marketing Land, a website can fix its high bounce rate with engaging content. Second, specialized and branded content can help build an organization’s image, according to the Content Marketing Institute. By building a strong brand and message and stepping slightly outside the norm, listeners will feel enticed by receiving fresh content. 

These principles can be applied to nonprofit and religious broadcast stations. By creating fun and engaging specials, a station can build its brand and entice viewers with new content while reducing bounce rates. Use the four steps below to create an engaging and entertaining radio special:

Creating engaging radio specials can entice your current audience and new listeners on the go.Creating engaging radio specials can entice your current audience and new listeners on the go.

1. Host an on-air poll
If a station is concerned picking an off-kilter topic could ruin station reputation, give listeners the option to pick a topic themselves. While on air, announce the station will conduct an online poll to select topics for specials. SpeckyBoy, a statistics blog, recommended using an online poll service such as Snap Poll or Vizu to create visually appealing polls that can be applied directly to your website’s layout. It’s also possible to conduct the poll on social media by using Facebook or Twitter. Based off of the live poll results, announce which topic the station will use for the special.

2. Pick a slightly off-kilter topic
Using the results from the poll conducted and develop a unique edge to your special. Say your station does a weekly selection of local bands looking to broadcast their music. The bands are briefly explained, their website and tour dates announced and a short interview takes place. For a fun twist, invite the smaller act’s members themselves to interview the hosts for a night or position a relatively well-known band to interview the smaller band. These kinds of specials not only change the perspective of a show, but also denote a sense of variety. While writing the script, B-Side recommended using a logging tape and concise anchor intros at the beginning of each broadcast. As always, measure listener satisfaction using tracking software and consider fundraising management software for donations received while on-air.

3. “Advertise” accordingly
While no nonprofit radio station can truly advertise itself, it can promote its upcoming specials using internal channels. Before the special, use intermittent advertisements both on and off the air to remind listeners of the broadcast. Using a social media website such as Facebook or Twitter can also help spread the news of the radio special.

By following the steps above, a radio station can effectively showcase and create a unique radio special.

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