If you think your favourite radio announcers are the only reason the radio show you like is such a hit, then you are deeply mistaken.
Besides the witty and charismatic style of these presenters, there is another significant person involved in making the radio show as good as it is. This is none other than the producer, who is the backbone of the show.
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with The Red Breakfast WTF show’s producer Prem Anand from Red FM. Prem has been attached with the station’s morning show as a producer since 2012. He is also the programming manager for Red FM.
“Right after my secondary education I went on to study law at the Multimedia University in Cyberjaya. Growing up, I had always wanted to be a lawyer but I also had a passion for music and this interest kept growing within me.
“While studying, I was always fascinated with copyright law. My first job upon graduation was as a legal adviser for a media organisation. I was in this organisation for just a short while. I moved on to become a radio show producer in late-2008. I started off with Red FM in August last year,” he explains.
Planning and creativity
According to Prem, a breakfast show producer handles two main aspects. One is to manage the individuals on-air and the other is to manage talent off-air.
In terms of on-air management, Prem provides the announcers the content they need, making sure what they say on air is compliant to the rules and regulations set by the station.
“For example, when I have a particular topic set for the day, I research on it and come up with reliable facts and pass them to my announcers. They will then go through them and convey the message to the listeners using their own voice and style. Besides that, I also source for relevant guests that will be suitable for the topics set for each day.
“The planning is usually done on a monthly basis, with further planning done every week and even on a daily basis. This is because we try to stay abreast with the current news. Sometimes there are last minute cancellations but I always have back-up topics in case this happens,” he says.
Off-air, Prem’s job revolves around getting his announcers noticed outside of their on-air presence. He does this by getting them featured in newspapers and magazines. He also comes up with ideas to get them engaged with the public by getting his announcers to meet the listeners.
Prem’s off-air duties do not end there. He is also tasked to manage his announcers well. This means managing their day-to-day life at work.
“I basically become their best friend, ally, confidante and sometimes even their errand boy. I try my best to keep them happy and contented, as only then can I get the best out of them during the show,” explains Prem.
“Besides this, I also have to keep my show interesting. There are a number of morning shows from various radio stations out there and I always try to think out-of-the-box to come up with creative approaches for the show. For example I do a mini challenge section with my guests where a box of interesting questions is set and the guests need to give quick answers.”
A typical day
Prem’s day starts at 4am when his alarm rings and he is at work by 5am. Once he is in, he surfs the Internet to check for the latest news. If there is anything interesting, he quickly includes it in the topic for the day.
“For example, the passing away of Michael Jackson took place in the wee hours of the morning so I had to alter the content of the show based on that incident. I quickly did some research and came up with a short tribute that talked about him and his achievements. The songs in the playlist for that day were changed to MJ’s songs as well. People also called in to share their favourite memory of Michael Jackson.”
Prem goes live on air at 6am with his announcers. He is in the studio throughout the show cueing them on the segments for the day. From 6am to 7am, The Red Breakfast WTF show is music-driven with trivia facts being thrown in now and then.
The guests come on air from 7am to 9am. This is also the time when the topic of the day is discussed with the guests, who will provide their thoughts and opinions. This is known as the peak period as most people are tuned in to their radios while making their way to work.
“After 9am, most people are already settled in their office so I adopt a laid-back approach where I don’t go too heavy on content. The show goes back to being music driven again. Once the show ends at 10am, my announcers and I chill out and have a coffee break.”
“This is then followed by planning for the next day. This means thinking of slotting in any current news which took place today. As you know, the radio is a medium which is current, so we have to keep ahead with all the important and interesting updates to get our listeners to tune in to us,” he shares.
The discussion could range from half-an-hour to two hours. Sometimes, the idea for the next day might involve elements of production and this takes more time than usual.
For Prem, his day ends between noon and 1pm. He tends to not take his work home but he does monitor social media to keep himself updated on the latest news and music trends, which he uses in the show.
Love for his job
“I find this job interesting simply because it is a new day every day. You are always learning new things even from your guests. The studio is fun and stress-free. Yes, you are working but you are having fun at the same time and for me, this is really good.”
Nevertheless, there are things that crop up now and then which prove to be challenging. For Prem, this emerges when dealing with personalities and guests.
This is no easy feat as some of them can be very outspoken, but Prem has to make sure what they say sounds right on air. Hence, being tactful while handling them is very important to ensure nothing goes wrong.
“One good memory which will stay in my mind is when we had Fly Guy alongside Lil Kev and JJ on the show recently. It was a real treat as Fly Guy and Lil Kev haven’t been together on radio for the past 10 years. Working with these three legends was a huge accomplishment for me,” says Prem.
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What it takes
Prem does not believe that you have to be qualified in a particular field to be a radio show producer. For him, being creative and thinking out-of-the-box are key ingredients to becoming a producer.
“Besides that, you have to be organised and good at planning. Teamwork is also important here as you are working with your announcers. You need to be able to engage with your team well.”
A producer also has to be independent and quick in making decisions on the spot. After all, it is the producer who has to take charge and make decisions for the show.