Broadcasting, Getting Started, Advice, Tips, Programming

How to Make Great Playlists for Your Radio Station

Choosing the right music for your radio station can be difficult. But, putting that music into great playlists can be even more difficult. You have to consider the branding of your station, how different songs flow and work together, playlist length, playlist theme, among several other factors. Obviously, the goal is to make engaging and enjoyable playlists so that listeners tune in, but all of the factors can make that goal easier said than done. We want to help you create the best playlists possible, so take a look at the tips below on how to make great playlists for your radio station!

Playlist Theme & Purpose

Starting out with a playlist theme and purpose is a great way to begin creating your playlist. For example, you may want to dedicate a playlist solely to one genre, such as pop. Or, you may want to dedicate a playlist to songs about love. Selecting a theme gives you direction when picking songs for your playlist.

You can also select a purpose for your playlist, such as inspiration or background music. You can choose to stick with a single theme or purpose, multiple themes or purposes, or even combine them. So, an example of this would be that you have a playlist that is both about love and inspiring your audience. Creating playlists with a theme and purpose also lends itself to scheduling your playlists strategically. For example, if you have a playlist that aims to inspire your audience, you might schedule that playlist for the morning to help your listeners start their day off right. Select some themes and purposes that you want your playlists to have and you can mix and match them to create some great cohesive, yet diverse playlists!

Playlist Structure

Structure is important. You don't want to play too many songs by the same artist or play too many songs that sound similar. Also, you don't want to play too many new songs or too many songs that you play often. Making a playlist is all about balance. So, if you select a genre as your playlist theme, make sure that you are selecting songs that differ in speed, intensity, etc. Then, arrange those songs in a way that you don't have too many slow or fast songs in a row. Generally speaking, try to ensure that you don't play more than 2 similar songs in a row to keep your playlist exciting.

Another way to keep your playlist engaging is by putting new tracks in your playlist that are unfamiliar to your station. However, you don't want to play too many new songs, especially not in a row. Place an unfamiliar song that you think would appeal to your audience in between 2 familiar songs. The familiar songs that you select to surround your new tracks should often be more popular songs that your audience would know and likely love. This strategic placement will ensure that you aren't overloading or boring your audience with new songs, but you will still be able to keep your station fresh.

Song Choice

Playing music that you love is of the utmost importance. You have to enjoy the music that you are placing in a playlist in order to actually make a great playlist. And, since it is your station, you are the most familiar with what music is best for your station.

However, you have to be aware of your branding and whether the songs that you want to add to your playlist fit in with your station's brand. If you are a country station, playing a hip-hop or rap song would not make sense. Of course, there are many genre-bending songs out there and some genres are more connected than others. So, use your discretion when selecting songs. If you love a rock song or a country/pop crossover that you feel works with your station, go ahead and add it! These kinds of songs will bring some freshness to your station when well-selected and placed.

Some questions to ask yourself when you are adding a song to a playlist are:

  • Do I enjoy this song?
  • Does this song fit my station's branding?
  • Is this song within the genre(s) I play on my station? Or, is it a crossover song or part of a more connected genre to the genre(s) I play?
  • Is it a popular song or rising hit?
  • Is the song being talked about online?
  • Is it featured on a TV show, movie, or commercial that my audience is familiar with?

Above all else, when you are making your playlists, think about keeping your audience engaged. If you aren't invested in the playlist that you are creating, then that probably means that the playlist won't be enjoyable for your listeners. So, try different techniques when making playlists to find the best strategy for you to create your playlists.

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Article Image: Michael Mroczek via Unsplash.

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About Michelle Ruoff

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania