Should I tell listeners what I'm going to be playing in my show?

By Ashley Cowan
Posted 23 February 2015, 8.04am est

I'm helping a community radio station in North London for free. I just train the presenters in desk operations and very basic presenting skills. I was asked this question. "Should I tell the listeners in my show opening what I'm going to be playing in my show?" And I thought that's a good question actually. If you tell people what you're going to play on your show you give them a reason to listen but you also give them a reason not to listen. If I know you're going to be playing music that i don't like for example then I'm not going to listen. So:
Is it a good or bad idea to open your show by telling the listeners the music that you're going to be playing?


4 years, 6 months ago

Yes, to a point. Teasing a couple of tracks coming up in the next 15-20 minutes is more likely to encourage me to hang around, at least if they are not songs that are being over played. I'm listening to your station already, so presumably like the music you play.

Listing too many songs (more than two, or maybe three) gets boring and listing songs too far in the future is going to be frustrating when they don't actually get played in a reasonable time. Some presenters get fixated on what's coming up on their show, but as a listener to a music-led station I'm mainly interested in the tracks that will be playing soon, not what's coming up in two hours or that if I tune in at 8pm I can hear the same music with a slightly different presenter.

4 years, 6 months ago


If it's a specialist show that you know you're listeners have made an appointment to listen, it can be worthwhile to say that you have certain tracks coming up or you may even have new singles, albums from certain artists that you will be playing.

For a daytime show, the rule of thumb is that you don't give the actual track name in advance but instead you give the listener an opportunity to keep them wondering what the track could be, by giving them a factoid about the artist or song. This works best if the song is immediately after a commercial break, travel bulletin, news bulletin and so on. As Ian pointed out, to forward announce a song too far in advance can be frustrating.

Many radio stations have restrictions on forward-announcing track-names but mentioning the artist is fine.

4 years, 6 months ago

No radio station plays every track that everyone wants to listen to. Just saying a couple of artists names coming up is fine. If the listeners are loyal they will listen to that station regardless.

4 years, 6 months ago

Hook and Tease. A DJ will list the songs about to be played because a: it's easy to do and b: he/she loves the sound of their own voice.

A PRESENTER will work on how to offer a titbit of interesting information about a song or an artiste to hook the listener into staying tuned.

For example: Which keyboard legend played as a session musician on the next song?......find out in just a moment. (The song I have in mind is Get It On by T Rex)

Answer revealed shortly.

4 years, 6 months ago

I think the name of a song and artist should be given before and after if possible, but if it's at the top of the hour then it can only be given after, and similarly, when closing an hour it can only be given before.

When I did a show on community radio, I went: song, speech, song, speech, etc, ending with a song. I would name each song before and after playing it (some might find that excessive, but at least name it afterwards for anyone who's coming in part-way through). Some stations don't always name a song at either end which is frustrating when I'm driving and, thus, can't Shazam it at the time.

Personally, I don't like the above Q&A that David gives. As soon as a DJ says "Coming shortly is...", that shouts to me "ad break!" and I move on elsewhere. I'm driving to or from work and I want music to take my mind off things. I know the reason for the ad breaks but, as with Dragon's Den, at that point, I'm out...

4 years, 6 months ago

Mention the artist not the song. If you say to got 'so and so' in the next few minutes the audience will think 'I like them, I'll stick around to see if it's my favourite'.

4 years, 6 months ago

Will they? Or will they say "Mmm, Simply Red. Reminds me of that album of theirs. Now, where's Spotify?" - why not talk about things you're doing that are unique and interesting, rather than another three minutes of stuff you can get for free on YouTube?

4 years, 6 months ago

If you're talking about things that are unique and plugging stuff that the station are up to then all the better. there's no need to mention artist or song. There's only so much you can cram into a link afterall.

4 years, 6 months ago

If it entertains, is time a limiting factor?

4 years, 6 months ago

No need to mention the song or artist? Er... I think listeners will want to know that more than anything. Takes seconds to tell them!

4 years, 6 months ago

Dom, surprise is radio's greatest tool. Otherwise you might aswell listen to your favourite tape/cd/mp3. By doing this, the listener is guaranteed to hear their favourite choice of music.

I like to listen to old favourites and to be introduced to new talent. But if the presenter lists everything coming up he/she removes the surprise element.

That is why Radio 2 excels. There is no predictabilty factor in their daytime output other than the A and B playlist.

4 years, 6 months ago

I'm not talking about surprise, I'm saying that when the DJ is about to play a track, or afterwards (or both if possible), they should name the artist & song, otherwise you might like a track and not know who it is! And I can't activate Shazam on my phone while driving.

4 years, 6 months ago

Understood Dom and whilst I would agree with that, I would strongly advise that there would be little reason to name a well known classic by the Beatles/Stones/Queen/Bowie etc. Why waste time telling the listener what they probably already know?

Those listeners who perhaps don't know the song are in a minority of the target audience, so why insult the intelligence of your core listenership?

Surely you don't want a presenter to tell you that you're listening to Hey Jude or Bohemian Rhapsody? I admit that they are two very obvious songs to name, but there are many others that could be added to that list.

4 years, 6 months ago

I wasn't thinking of well-known songs, but even if I was about to play one of those, why not give it the common courtesy of naming it? I can't think of a single radio presenter I've ever heard who has NEVER named ANY of the songs he/she is playing on the radio.

Then again, I've heard plenty others who'll name them while the song is STILL PLAYING! (but that's another fight for another day)

4 years, 6 months ago

I have to take an opposing view to that Dom. I refer to my stance of insulting the core audience.

When working for Classic Gold (a station where the majorty of listeners KNEW the songs by heart) the challenge was to create a link to tell the listener something that they DIDN'T know about the song being played.

That is the difference between a DJ and a Presenter. Would you not agree?

4 years, 6 months ago

And I refer to the fact that I don't know any other DJ who's done that.

Don't worry, David, you're right, it must be the rest of us who are wrong!

4 years, 6 months ago

Dom, there is no hard rule to what is right or wrong in presentation terms , but my position is worth a thought by anyone considering a career in broadcasting.

Steve Wright does not always credit well known songs/artistes on his Radio 2 afternoon show. That is probably more due to the fact that portions of his show are pre recorded and that the songs either side of the inserts are unknown at the time of recording.

As always, a pleasure to debate the issue with someone as passionate about radio as yourself.

4 years, 6 months ago

BTW, it was Rick Wakeman who played on Get It On by T Rex. Elton John appeared on Top Of The Pops supposedly playing keyboards but it was Rick who earned the £9 session fee at the time of recording: source: Rick himself.

4 years, 6 months ago

I don't cite Steve Wright as a good example of a DJ or presenter. I know he's been going since time began, but I've never liked his self-satisfaction oozing out of the radio. And, like Tony Blackburn, if they love the music so much, why do they talk over it? They care more about their own voice than the rest of them.

Fine, re: Get It On. In that case you listed the name of the track and the artist, so I have no truck with that one.

4 years, 6 months ago

Hi guys thanks for all the responses! I'm sorry I've only just noticed then now, I didn't get any e mail notifications! Any great stuff! Thanks a lot!

4 years, 5 months ago

I never promoted my first set of songs. I'd play the sweeper and straight into three songs.

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