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Getting The Most Out Of a Fill-In Host

“When it comes to content, remember to remain authentic to the person or people who are hosting now rather than whoever normally sits in the chair.”

Rob Guerrera

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Sometimes, great things can be born out of necessity. In 1904, an ice cream vendor ran out of dishes during the St. Louis World’s Fair. Desperate for a way to keep selling his product, he joined forces with the vendor next to him who was selling sweet wafers, and the ice cream cone was born.

The best ice cream cone maker - Chicago Tribune

Now that the calendar has officially taken the turn into summer, sports talk shows around the country are looking to keep selling their own product without a key component: hosts. Nothing gets internet commenters’ blood boilin’ like the audacity of a host who dares to take a vacation during the slowest time of the year (at least, when there isn’t a global pandemic). While new hosts do pose a challenge, there are a few things shows you can think about ahead of time to make the change more digestible for everyone involved.

Whether you’re the regular producer working with a fill-in host or a completely new show unit altogether, the first and most important part of putting together a successful program is communication. As soon as you know you’re going to be working with someone new, get the dialogue going right away. If you can, take the time to listen to some of his or her previous work. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Are there features that you can borrow?  Are there interviews or soundbites from their show that you can use yourself? Try and get production made that includes a mention of the fill-in host.

It may seem like a small detail, but it does add some legitimacy to the person in the chair when they’re included in the production. Being named in the open/rejoins sends the subtle message to the listener that this isn’t just a throw-away show because the usual host is absent. The sooner you start communicating about all of these things, the better the final product will sound.

Once you start talking, begin with a big-picture view of things. How long will the regular host be away? If you’re dealing with a week-long vacation, is there a theme that you can carry over to all five days? One advantage of the slower summer days is that you have some latitude when it comes to topic selection – take advantage of that. If at all possible, try and do some quick guest spots and create some social media interaction between the host and the fill-in host. That will serve as a soft opening of sorts that could make some fans more inclined to continue to tune in during the vacation because the substitute will be seen as part of the show family. 

It’s also important not to overlook the situation behind the glass. If the host is the only member of the crew that’s taking time off, things should run pretty smoothly. If the whole crew is new, it’s important for the producer to know who they’re working with. Is the board-op new? Have they worked on this particular show before? Who is taking care of liners and other post-show production that needs to get done? All members of the crew should know what’s expected of them, both for the show as a whole, as well as segment to segment.

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When it comes to content, remember to remain authentic to the person or people who are hosting now rather than whoever normally sits in the chair. It’s okay to carry over some features from the regular show, but be sure to add in some new ones as well. The last thing you want to do is sound like you’re trying to do an impression of someone else. I always liked to borrow something from the fill-in host’s show or repertoire early in the broadcast. To me, it helped loosen them up a little bit. 

Vacations may not be fun for some listeners, but with the right approach, they can help make a station and its employees stronger in the long run. Vacations provide more exposure for different hosts, and growth opportunities for producers, board-ops, and production assistants. Executing a well-thought-out plan can turn a potentially bad situation into a sweet success.

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Does The Return of Bob Iger Mean to ESPN?

Demetri Ravanos

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Demetri Ravanos has questions about Disney going back to the future with Bob Iger. This entire episode of Media Noise is all about what the change at the top of the Walt Disney Company indicates about the future of ESPN.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Is Realistic For FOX at the World Cup?

Demetri Ravanos

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On this special holiday edition of Media Noise, Demetri Ravanos dives into the controversy and criticism surrounding FOX’s coverage of the World Cup in Qatar.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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