Putting a programme together

This page gives advice on putting together a radio programme, including:

  • doing research
  • creating a running order
  • writing links


You are going to be on the air because you have something to say.  But you can’t get away with just saying the first thing that comes into your head (for more than a few minutes, anyway!).

Research will make you sound more on-the-ball, and more professional. It is essential that listeners feel that you know what you’re on about!

When might you need to research for radio?

  • links, i.e. those bits of chat between tunes
  • what’s on, gig guides
  • specialist music shows
  • talk shows
  • quizzes
  • documentaries
  • interviews

Research Tips and techniques

Make a research diary

This is just a way of holding on to those great ideas and opportunities that come to you or you find out about! When you’re struck by a top idea, or hear or see something that you think would make good radio – just make a quick note of it on a scrap of paper. Put in the file newspaper clippings, leaflets, and fliers. Then you’ll have a ready-made store of good ideas, when you need them.  This is also a great idea for your job searching too.

When you make the note, always include: names, contacts, other useful info.


Research for News Stories

Here are some examples of good sources for local news and employment stories:

Accidents/Crime – Police, hospitals

Politics – City Council, local councillors, government departments

Job vacancies ­– local Jobcentre plus, other job agencies

Health – Local Health authorities, local GPs

Education – Local education department, schools, colleges

Community – Community Centres, other agencies

Business – Chamber of Commerce

Volunteering – local volunteering centre, other social enterprises and charities


Accuracy in news reporting and research is all important.  If it is not true then it’s not news!

Always double/triple check your facts.  If possible get 2 or 3 sources to confirm information.  Always get the other side of the story.


Running orders and links


A running order is a plan for the show you are doing. Running orders are used throughout the radio industry and differ in format from station to station. Look at some examples here to see how they can differ.

All running orders should have

–              name, date and time slot of the programme.

–              space to show what time each item, or element, is going to air.

–              space to describe the item going to air.

–              you can also have a ‘notes column’ to give yourself reminders about items.

–              you can also note which device the audio source is from, e.g. MP3, MIC 1,CD 2.


Running orders are important because they help you to know what you are doing on air and when you are going to do it.


Example running orders


Wythenshawe FM 97.2         7-10am Mon-Fri

7.00 News Follow with up-beat tune +  jingle
7.05 Intro Play music bed. Sound excited – Keep it snappy! Give presenters name/names for today. “Coming up in this hour, what’s in today’s papers, loads of music and the World of WOW”
7.30 World of WOW Talk over music bedAmusing and totally irrelevant factsSources vary (only lasts a couple of minutes)
7.40 Preview of tracks “Coming up at 8 O Clock we have Independent Radio News, but before then music from “3 artists”.
7.57 In next hour “Coming up after the news awake@8, list tracks.
8.00 News Follow with Awake @ 8 
8.03 Awake @ 8 Play three tracks to wake people up followed by rundown of what tracks were, always come out at end with new release.
8.20 Wythenshawe What’s On Guide See clipboard for daily what’s on guide.
8.30 Name that tune Play section of backing track to a song where listeners have to phone in and guess what the song is (10 secs of song max)
8.45 End name that tune Announce winner and push “Coming up at 9 IRN but before then music from “2 artists”.
8.55 In next hour “Coming up after news “The Big Impression”
9.00 News Follow with up-beat tune +  jingle 
9.15 The Big Impression(Thursday 9.30) Play pre recorded impression and open lines for listeners.
9.35 Newspapers General stories from the papers.
9.40 Wythenshawe What’s On Guide See clipboard for daily what’s on guide.
9.55 What’s coming UP Play music bedPlug tomorrows breakfast showAll the usual features with “Presenters name”Coming up at 12 it’s the packed Lunch with “Presenter’s names”Say BYE



ALL FM 96.9     7-10am ANY DAY

7:00 News for seven minutes followed by station jingle.
7:15 Show trailer –  Lunchbox.
7:20 Station jingle and first guest spot for five minutes.
7:30 Info trailer – community notice board.
7:40 Station jingle.
7:45 Briefing board for two minutes.
7:55 Show trailer – Drive Time.
8:00 News for seven minutes followed by station jingle.
8:15 Station jingle and second guest spot for five minutes.
8:25 Show trailer – 6 to 8pm show.
8:30 Info trailer – community notice board.
8:45 Third guest spot for five minutes followed by station jingle.
8:55 Show trailer – 8 to 10pm show.
9:00 News for seven minutes followed by station jingle.
9:20 Station jingle and fourth guest spot for five minutes.
9:30 Info trailer – community notice board.
9:45 Briefing board for two minutes.
9:55 Show trailer – 10 to 12pm show.



RADIO 4 – TODAY PROGRAMME (Running Order from 14th March 2013)

6:00 Welcome, followed by News on the hour.
6:06 Today’s weather forecast
6:08 What’s in today’s papers.
6:11 The government is banning the use of gagging clauses in the NHS. Gary O’ Donoghue is our chief political correspondent.
6:13 Xi Jinping has been named president of China, having been named general secretary of the Communist Party last November. Damian Grammaticas reports from Beijing.
6:15 Business news, with Simon Jack. Discussion about the economy with a week to go until the Chancellor delivers his new budget. A look at today’s markets, including discussion about recent performance of Morrison’s, and Samsung’s tussle with Apple for control of the market. Making London a centre for Islamic finance.
6:27 Sport, with Garry Richardson.
6:29 Trail: Who will be choosing the comedy on Radio4 Extra this Saturday?
6:30 Summary of today’s news.
6:32 Pope Francis starts his term in the Vatican today. James Robbins is in Rome.
6:35 Vladimir Hernandez reports on the response in Argentina to the new Pope.
6:37 We are weeks away from changes in the health services with GP-led commissioning groups both buying and providing services. Jane Draper, health correspondent, reports on this potential conflict of interest as outlined in a new piece in the British Medical Journal.
6:39 A British company is due to start mining in the Pacific Ocean. Our science editor, David Shukman, reports.
6:44 A look at today’s papers.
6:46 The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, has said that the government is falling apart – though David Cameron has hit back. Parliamentary correspondent, Keith McDougal reports.
6:52 A third of motorists have damaged their cars by driving over potholes in the last two years, according to the AA. Nick Garnett has been looking at the report.
6:54 A report from the House of Lords committee on Public Service and Demographic Change has said that the government is “woefully unprepared” for the ageing population. The Chair of the committee, Lord Filkin, joins us in the studio.
6:57 Weather forecast.
6:59 Trail: Nick Robinson’s new radio series is available to listen to online.
7:00 News on the hour


Map out your show

Ordering items in your programme will enhance the show.

It can be a good idea to keep your best idea until last as it will keep people listening.

You also need a good hook to captivate your audience at the start.  Something that will make them say wow, this is interesting, exciting and worth listening to.

Structure your show to keep the listener interested. You need to place your items in a strategic way to keep the audience captivated and wanting more.  There should always be something coming up to look forward to (and don’t forget to tell them what is coming up!).

Don’t forget that your programme is a part of the whole station. Build in places in your running order to promote the station and other shows on the station.


Writing links

Know what you are going to say!

A presenter link is a written piece, which introduces an interview, report or other audio insert within a radio programme.

  •  the link has the job of attracting the listener to the item following.
  •  it should make the item easy to understand.
  • sometimes the link will contain the key facts on which an interview is based.

 A good link should:

  • Grab the attention of the listener
  • Set the scene
  • Deliver important information
  • Trigger the imagination
  • Have short, self-contained sentences
  • Summarise the item BUT NOT GIVE THE GAME AWAY

The first sentence is the one that will ‘grab’ the listener by the ears.  Relate the subject to the listeners’ interests and experiences.

A link must first capture the information and there are many ways to do this.  You can weave a spell of mystery, shock, amuse or just intrigue the listener.

 A link might answer basic questions about the topic … WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW

Make sure with every link that you have not left out a key fact that will leave your audience baffled.

The link can be short or long – from 10 to 30 seconds.

Try to involve the listener. A good way is to ask a rhetorical question, such as:

 Have you ever wondered about what’s in that empty building on Station St?

Can you remember the music you listened to in High School?

Write links in simple, everyday language using familiar words – check your link works by reading it out loud.

All radio links should be typed or written in double line spacing to make reading easier. Double spacing also leaves room for you to correct minor errors or to make changes without having to put messy and confusing scribble all over a script.

Avoid jargon and complicated terms. Or if you need to use a specific scientific or medical term then make sure you explain what it means in everyday language.

This way you are making the link clear and also helping the listener to understand what may be complex or technical terms.


Examples of presenter links

Example One:

Bullying is a major problem in schools across the UK with over 80% of young people experiencing it at some point within the school life. It can lead to some pupils doing badly at school and increases in truancy. In the studio today we have two fifth form pupils from Woodside School to ask them what they feel counts as bullying and what to do about it.

Example Two:

Everybody loves having a voice, so why not use it to your advantage? Wythenshawe Voices is a local group, run by local people, who work to support local people and the voluntary sector. Here in the studio today we have Claire Kerfoot from Wythenshawe Voices to find out what it’s all about.

Remember: we read aloud at roughly 150 words per minute