Co-hosting a radio show or podcast seems like it should be easier because there are two of you, but that also means there are twice the problems. Here are some basic tips that I’ve collected from two-person shows I’ve coached over the years including; Mike & Mike in the Morning, the Ron & Don Show, Mason & Ireland and others.
1. Creators and Reactors. The best shows alternate which host is creating or driving the segment and which host is reacting*. Knowing your role at any given moment of a show is critical or you’ll be simultaneously creating the segment. That leads to talking over each other and confusing the listener. A creator is developing the topic, telling a story, or creating the parameters of which the discussion will take place. The reactor responds to the creator, adds insights, details, color, emotion, and asks questions in attempt to build the topic and move the conversation forward – not poke holes.
*There are some exceptions to this rule, most notably KFI’s John & Ken who I characterize as “crusading hosts” – simultaneously pushing the same message towards the listener in an attempt to change thinking or behavior. This is much harder and takes additional preparation
2. Improv Rules Apply. Once a reality is established by the creator you have to roll with it. The core rule of improv is “yes, and…” If the first thing out of your mouth is “no…” – YOU have killed the bit. Add to the segment/topic/story don’t dismantle it and start over.
3. Avoid One-upmanship. For some reason co-hosts have a hard time letting each other get the laugh, get the final word or own the spotlight for a moment. I hear this all the time. A co-host will have a funny line and the other host fires back with a zinger of his own and then she tries another line and then he tries another… It’s what my buddy Travis labeled “break degeneration.” Suddenly, the hosts have forgotten all about the listeners and creating content and they’ve entered a one-line comedy duel which gets less entertaining and less funny with each quip.
4. Establish Boundaries. Great shows have three to five rules in place to help establish boundaries of comfort and decency. “I’ll talk about my kids, but never use their name on air,” “My sexual adventures are off limits,””We’ll never put each other in a position to fail on-air,” We’ll never intentionally embarrass or humiliate each other on air,” etc. You need boundaries so you can trust each other. And you MUST trust your co-host.
5. Communication. This holds true for any show but the hosts need to communicate with each other, the producer, the board operator and any other team members. Early and often! Establish the best means or communication for your group. It could be email, texting, a phone call, a Google Doc or something else. But figure it out early and use it!! The more your team knows what you’re thinking the more they can support your ideas and help bring them to life.
6. Have a Plan. This is critical. Know what you are talking about, when you are talking about it, what your resources are, and who’s leading the topic. All shows, every show. Map it out. Before the show you should hash out angles, ways to evolve topics and develop stories.
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