We hear a lot about how content is King. But is it really? Content is everywhere. There’s so much content we couldn’t consume it all in multiple lifetimes. Great content is important, but the most compelling segments are useless if nobody knows it exists.

My friend and client Haz Montana recommended Hitmakers, a terrific book called Hitmakers, a deep dive into the science of how to succeed in the age of distraction. It explains why and how some songs, video games, art, movies, celebrities, books, and TV shows become massive runaway hits while others of equal or even better quality fail.

Without going into detail, the author suggests three keys to having a hit radio show (or anything else):

  • Familiarity. The product must build on something the intended audience is comfortable with and recognizes.
  • Freshness. It has to offer something new and different, but not so different that it’s perceived as “weird”.
  • Distribution. If the audience is never exposed to the product, how can it possibly gain traction?

Radio shows need to improve distribution. I’m not talking about making the available on more channels (online, streaming services, podcasts, etc.), though that helps. And it’s not just about external advertising and marketing, though that helps, too.

This is about making great content, then promoting it to become famous. Hits.

Nobody Is Seeking More Content

Here’s the problem for a radio personality. The audience isn’t seeking more content. They’re surrounded by it. It is already overwhelming.

  • 400 hours of new video is uploaded to YouTube…every minute. 
  • The average Fortnite player is engaged with the game three hours per day. 
  • In 2022, over 1,000 scripted original TV series were released. That’s almost double the number of shows in 2019 (532) and five times the number of shows in 2010.
  • 20,000 new songs are uploaded to Spotify…every day. 
  • There are 2.4 million podcasts with over 66 million episodes available. That’s up from 29 million episodes in 2019 and just 15 million in 2018.

No, listeners aren’t actively seeking content. So it’s up to radio shows to make a hit that cuts through the clutter.

Content Is King. Promotion Is Queen

Most broadcasters naturally emphasize doing more. Get a blog post out. write multiple articles per day for the station website. Put out an email blast. Post four times per show on Instagram and at least two on Facebook. Tweet every 30 minutes. Get the content up in a podcast form. Create more promos.

those are all good things. It helps make the content (and personalities) more visible. Those things get you in the game, but the problem is an over-emphasis on quantity. Great content gets lost in a sea of more content.

Content is King. But just cranking out more stuff to fulfill a quota doesn’t ensure the content will have an impact.

Content is king. But promotion is queen. And today, the Queen has more power than the King. Seriously.

Promotion is the act of spreading a message.  Whether it’s an event, contest, feature, or a great segment from the morning show, promotion should be a primary part of content creation, working seamlessly as a strategy to increase Top Of Mind Awareness.

Here’s how.

How To Make A Radio Hit

The only way to stand out is by creating something amazing and following the Hitmakers’ recipe for success:

Familiar: Build a great signature feature in a memorable, familiar Content Container (feature). Don’t try and reinvent the wheel.

Fresh: Present and perform the content with passion and enthusiasm every day, showing off your character through fresh content so it stands out as unique and entertaining.

Distribution: Focus promo efforts to make each episode a hit by promoting it on-air, online, on social media, and in promos outside the show.

Here are a few execution tips:

  • Do Less. Make it great. Perform it often. Playing your best content every hour is not too often when you consider how quickly audiences turn over and how little attention is actually being paid.
  • Promote Episodes, Not Features: to make a feature famous, promote the content inside the feature. Television networks don’t promote a series as much as the next episode (story). That increases the chance of attracting a sample. Absolutely promote the feature brand name as well, but lead with compelling content. Over time, this results in fans. Create and promote episodes designed to attract activity.
  • Ask For A Little, Get A Lot: Some stations ask for too much. No promo campaign will cause a listener to become a fan. Focus on influencing behavior one action at a time. Hit artists happen when they string together a series of hit songs consistent with a brand image. Do that with content!
  • Promote a Call-To-Action. Content marketers spend 80% of production time writing headlines (teases and promos for a radio show) to attract visitors. How much time do you spend on teases and promos? Ask for a call to action -and do it a lot. It’s not hype. Think of it as a programming guide for fans.


Every show’s goal should be to lead a community of passionate listeners organized around a common interest: The show. That requires great content. Yes, Content is King. Without it, there’s nothing to promote. Make great content.

But that’s only where becoming a hit personality begins. Promotion is Queen. Invest more time and effort in distribution.

Subscribe to Receive the Latest Radio and Personality News