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THE PRPD/LNI TALK SHOW BEST PRACTICES PROJECT: "Beyond Hit or Miss: Building Better Talk Shows"

Defining the successful elements; Actions needed to establish those conditions; Tools to make it happen

June 10, 2009: The Public Radio Talk Show Handbook

The Public Radio Talk Show Handbook is public radio’s first comprehensive online guide to creating and producing local news/information/talk programming. Written by LNI Project Manager Marcia Alvar, KUOW Program Director Jeff Hansen and PRPD President Arthur Cohen, the handbook identifies a broad array of best practices and tools to help stations deliver high quality local shows on a consistent basis.

Click here to see the handbook’s Table of Contents.

With input from station program directors, show producers and hosts, the guide provides sound advice covering all aspects of local show production – from that first idea for doing a show to the demands and details of day-to-day production;

  • The Listener Service Foundation - What we know about public radio listeners; who they are, what draws them to us and what they expect when they tune in.
  • Building a Strong Infrastructure – A checklist for planning your program’s mission, format, staffing, funding and sustainability.
  • Editorial Planning - Proven practices, tips and tools for selecting and shaping your show’s content
  • On the Air - Hosting and interviewing, caller screening, handling and the craft and formatic details and promotion and marketing that go into making great shows.

A growing index of tools is also provided.

The LNI and PRPD want to add even more tools and resources so if you’ve got something to share with your public radio colleagues, we invite you to email it to us at

October 10, 2008: Project Announces Plans for New Handbook and Workshop for Talk Programmers

During a 2008 PRPD Conference session called Building Better Talk Shows, LNI Project Manager Marcia Alvar and KUOW Program Director and PRPD Board member Jeff Hansen engaged attendees in a discussion of talk show best practices, and previewed both a comprehensive new handbook and workshop for station news/information/talk shows:

  • The session featured an abbreviated version of the airchecking session done at last June's Talk Show Summit in Denver.
  • The outline for a new handbook for Talk programmers was presented which incorporates a number of suggestions made at the summit about the Project's Talk Show Best Practices Matrix.
  • Plans were also unveiled for a new regional talk show workshop that will be piloted in 2009. A pilot workshop will be done prior to the 2009 PRNDI Conference June 10-13 in Portland, OR. The LNI's new J-MEGS will also be offered. A new workshop from the Morning Edition Grad School team, J-MEGS will focus entirely on the local journalism stations produce for Morning Edition.