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Every once in a while, we get asked a pretty interesting question – what does Burli Newsroom do that Burli NE doesn’t?  After all, NE is the next generation, enhanced product, it makes sense that it can do everything that Newsroom can do, right?

Well, for the most part, you’d be right to assume that.  NE is very powerful, and does a lot of things that Newsroom isn’t capable of.  But in the quest to make it so, there are a couple of things here and there that we haven’t (yet!) duplicated in NE.  For instance, we already discussed podcasting, and that’s still Newsroom-only.  On top of that, there’s another gem that’s still only in Newsroom: use of Dropbox.

Dropbox is an online file sharing system, letting you upload and download files at your convenience – it’s one of the earliest and most popular cloud storage services going.  And you can use it as a means of getting files into Burli!

Dropbox as a “Newswire”

Dropbox can be used to remotely send Stories into Burli by devices that don’t have any direct means of connecting to the Burli system. By saving your file to a specified folder in Dropbox (from literally anywhere with Dropbox access) it will appear in Burli as a Story.

For your convenience, we have separated Dropbox into two feeds – Dropbox Audio and Dropbox Text. Each appears like a separate Newswire in Burli’s Filter Tree. (Note that each of the Dropbox feeds is set to filter on file type, so Text files written to the Audio folder will not appear, and vice versa. Once they are in Burli, however, they can be combined, moved, and manipulated just like any other Story.)

The Dropbox Audio and Text folders in Burli Newsroom

Submission via Dropbox

Submitting a Story to Burli via Dropbox is very simple – just save a file of the appropriate type to the Dropbox folder specified by your System Administrator, exactly like any other file you save to Dropbox. All you need is the remote connection and the login credentials for the target Dropbox folder.

Whether working from a laptop or a mobile phone, start by writing up your Story in .txt format.

Writing up a Text Story

Saving the new Story to Dropbox

Audio files are even more flexible.  As Burli can handle virtually any commercially available audio filetype, just make a recording in the format of your choice and save it to the Dropbox Audio folder.  We see below a user with proper credentials for the Burli Dropbox folder from Voice Record Pro (as just one example) on an iPhone. No matter how you do it, once a file has been saved to Dropbox, it will show up in Burli as a Story in the Filter Tree.  Here we see our earlier Text Story in the Dropbox Text filter, ready to go anywhere in Burli!

Saving a file to Dropbox from an iPhone

A Text Story in Burli via Dropbox

A Text Story imported from Dropbox will use its first line as its slug within Burli – exactly like a Story created natively in Burli.  An Audio Story will use its filename (minus the extension).  So “weather.wav” will become a Story called “weather” in Burli.

Dropbox as a Destination

You can work in the other direction, too.  Take a Story in Burli and right click it, and select Save As. You can save the file (text or audio) back to the Dropbox folder on your PC.  Easy!

Want to do more with your news?  Want to experience great customer service?  Come visit us at www.burli.com for more info, or email ChiChi.Liu@Burli.com to get in touch.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0447


Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0447.

To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.



In the past, we’ve talked about one of our largest customers and how they apply Burli coast-to-coast in order to serve the largest media markets in Canada. Today we’re pleased to speak with Jim Pattison Broadcast Group, Dave Barry in Prince George, BC, and Doug Collins in Kamloops, BC.  Both are News Directors in their respective markets, and each has a responsibility to a local TV station and two local radio stations.  Both of them have a great need to keep their newsrooms running as smoothly as possible, and have been long time customers of Burli to help meet that need.

Burli Goes Way Back

In speaking to both Barry and Collins, they each reflected on just how long they’ve been working with Burli Newsroom, having been among the earliest adopters of Burli Software’s technology.

Barry remarked that he started in the news business putting together stories on a manual typewriter and yellow carbon paper (although he eventually graduated up to an electronic typewriter).  When Burli was introduced in the late 90’s to CKPG, it ushered these (and several noisy cart machines) out the door.

Collins said that he had also been using Burli since “ground zero”, having also been an early adopter in the 90’s at CFJC.  And whenever his management floated the idea of trying another system out, he pushed back hard to keep Burli.

The Day to Day

“I do the morning news run, so I use it every day,” Collins said.  “And of course there’s been lots of improvements since then to make it ever more valuable.”  He uses Burli as the basis of the newsroom for the TV scripts each night, and for virtually everything in the radio news.  “The editor is very powerful.”

Plus, Burli helps him when he’s on the spot, saying the ticker display that’s always on the bottom of the screen is handy for adding breaking stories into a cast at the last moment.  Collins says you easily see Burli was “developed by news people, for news people”.

Similarly, Barry also gets his hands on the software on a daily basis.  Drawing from traditional newswires as well as RSS feeds and their own interviews, his team is using Burli to create hourly TV and radio scripts.  “It’s the heart of our newscasts for television and for radio,” he says.  “Everything we do on air is a result or is a product of the Burli system”.

Barry mentioned that they switch between pre-recording and reading news live to air each day, but that Burli is so easy to work with that both processes are equally useful.  “You always find the path of least resistance, and Burli provides that!”

And as many of their incoming staff are coming from BCIT and other Canadian schools teaching Burli as part of the curriculum, getting new people up to speed is easy.  That makes getting on with the day much simpler for Barry.

Looking Forward with Burli

Both newsrooms have gotten more heavily involved with taking their radio and TV news content and moving it to the web – content that got its start in Burli.  Collins in particular was interested in getting more involved in using Burli for social media – something their operation in Kamloops is already doing, but wants to grow using Burli’s technology.

But whatever happens, both Barry and Collins expressed happiness with Burli’s people, and the ease of doing business we offer.  “Any time we’ve needed the support it’s been there” said Collins.  “We’ve had really good response any time we’ve had an issue.”

To learn more, come visit us www.burli.com for more info, or email ChiChi.Liu@Burli.com to get in touch.

How to Be Prepared, Yet Still Perform In the Moment


Here’s a term that could unlock the next level of your performance: Relaxed readiness.

Air personalities struggle finding the balance between being highly prepared to perform and “winging it”. I’ve actually had personalities tell me that they can just come in and talk about their life, confident that they would be able to find something entertaining. On air personality actually told me:

I just bring my experiences to the air. It’s good enough. My show is totally spontaneous. I plan nothing. That’s how I get such a natural response.

Okay. Fine. How is that working out for you (hint: Not very well)?

This type of approach almost always sounds sloppy and unprepared. And it’s one of the things that is causing radio shows to lose ground in the battle for attention. In some cases , it’s rampant.

I actually heard this on live sports radio. A talk host was interviewing Trent Green, the former NFL quarterback turned television personality. Green’s show on the NFL Network is quite popular, and known for a loose, fun personality approach to football, with high energy dialogue.

The host asked Trent about how they prepare for the broadcast. Green responded that the team spends many hours off the air exploring topics and discussing angles. They debate the best approach in searching of the most entertaining way to present content. When they hit on something, their producer takes notes and crafts the organic dialogue into a structured topic list for the show.

That’s a healthy approach to injecting point of view and individual personalities into content.

Then The Radio Host Said THIS

The art of show prep was obviously lost on the radio host. He asked,

Do you ever have those times in the production meeting when you get on a roll, and the producer stops you and tells you to save it for the air so that it’s fresh and you don’t lose the magic?

Green paused and uncomfortably long time, as if trying to think of how to respond. Then he said,

No, that literally never happens. We go through everything in detail so we know what to expect, what’s going to work and not work and so we don’t step all over each other.

There you go. I’m all for spontaneity. It produces surprise and some of the most memorably moments in a performance. But the spontaneity shouldn’t be a surprise to the performer!

Many personalities think they can get away with “winging it.” They create a topic list and don’t plan the approach so the rest of their show can react naturally. This is a mistake.

It’s no wonder radio is struggling, and programmers place strict limits on talk breaks. In cases like this, it’s self-inflicted. We can’t control everything but we can control how we prepare, giving us the best possible chance of being important to the audience.

Every other form of entertainment spends more time and attention in preparation than live radio shows. The audience is granting you a precious gift when they give you their time. Respect that time and don’t waste the attention they give you.

On the other hand, some personalities don’t feel confident unless they’ve outlined every detail. Some go so far as to script it in advance. It sounds like it’s rehearsed. It’s predictable and lacks excitement.

There is a solution. You can be prepared and ready to perform, yet preserve natural, spontaneous reactions with Relaxed Readiness.

Tina Fey Explains Show Prep: Relaxed Readiness

Comedian Tina Fey is one of the most naturally likable improvisational performers in the world. She’s likable, spontaneous and always comes off as being in control. How does she do it?

Here’s what she said when asked what it takes to be ready to perform:

I call it relaxed readiness. There’s a lot of preparation. So preparation, preparation, preparation. And then you want to be in a state of relaxed readiness so that if something spontaneous does happen, you’re there and can take advantage of that moment. But I think you only get there with a lot of prep work.

I love that so much. It’s exactly at the heart of what radio personalities should be doing. That’s why Time Spent Listening is in direct proportion to Time Spent Preparing.

That’s why, when you’re prepared for virtually anything that can happen, great personalities can make the best of mistakes. In her book Bossypants, Fey relates one of her rules of improv:

There are no mistakes, only opportunities, which doesn’t mean that things can’t go wrong, but that it’s your job to make the best of the situation you find yourself in.

If I start a scene as what I think is very clearly a cop riding a bicycle, but you think I am a hamster in a hamster wheel, guess what?  Now I’m a hamster in a hamster wheel.  I’m not going to stop everything to explain that it was really supposed to be a bike…. In improv there are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents.  And many of the world’s greatest discoveries have been by accident.  I mean, look at the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or Botox.


Relaxed readiness happens when you have invested the time and effort to know your content in enough depth to perform spontaneously. Don’t script it. Prepare it in great depth. It’ll give you confidence to unleash your personality and create some magical moments.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0446


Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0446.

To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

  • Robert J. Sawyer, science fiction novelist — The Order Of Ontario
  • Frank Kermit, relationship coach, — Serial singles
  • Caroline Cory, producer & host E.T. Contact: They Are Here

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.



Time again to go through the drawer marked “Best Kept Secrets” and talk about something that Burli does that perhaps all our customers aren’t aware of – Quick Record!

If you’re looking for a time-saver when recording newscasts, Quick Record is the feature for you.  It allows your on-air talent to pre-record newscasts quickly, skipping over the audio playout of any clips in your script during recording, but still including them automatically.

We’ll illustrate how this works in Burli NE for this article, but this feature is common to NE and Burli Newsroom!

Getting Started

To get started, all you really need to do is to set up your script as normal for an upcoming newscast.  Assemble your text and audio stories as you normally would in Burli.


When your script is ready, engage the Prompter mode (the microphone button above), and then press Ctrl-Q.


A red band appears across the bottom of your Prompter, with the words “Quick Record in progress” at the bottom left, and a timer at the bottom right.  This timer is displaying how long your recording has gone on.

Go ahead and read your copy, just like always.  When the time comes to play a clip, that’s when the “quick” part begins!

Save Some Time

Pressing play on the clip in the Prompter will give you the first five seconds of audio in the clip, and then immediately skip to the last five seconds.  You’ll only hear ten seconds of audio.  Then go ahead, and keep reading the copy as if the entire clip had played.  Note that the timer in the red band at the bottom jumps forward by the length of any skipped clips – it reflects the entire length of the newscast as though you had played the whole thing.

Finish the newscast, and press Ctrl-F10, or close the Prompter.  The audio will save as one long clip, featuring your reader’s voice and the full length of each clip.  This will appear as “Quick Record [Time of Day]” in your Personal Folder.  When you look at the finished product, you’ll see something like this in the Multi Track Editor, automatically assembled:


Each of those audio blocks on the top is the reader’s voice.  The blocks on the bottom are the skipped audio clips (in their entirety, regardless of how long they actually are).

Burli will add in the entire clip of each piece of audio you just previewed.  If you’ve got a newscast with 5 one minute-long clips, you’ll save 5×50=250 seconds of audio previewing, but the recorded package that will go out to the listening audience will be full length.  When recording short newscasts, this is pretty handy.  When recording long form news programs, this can save tremendous amounts of time – both in the recording phase and in the editing!

To learn more, come visit us at the all-new www.burli.com for more info, or email ChiChi.Liu@Burli.com to get in touch.

Don’t Start At The Beginning


If you want to get the attention of listeners, you must hook your audience quickly, Nobody knows more about the importance of beginnings than novelists and screenwriters, but we think their rules of entertainment doesn’t apply to us.

After all, you are delivering four hours of entertainment every day. Listeners tune in to hear what’s going on in our lives and in our studio. We aren’t writing fiction, we’re doing a great radio show about US. That’s sarcasm, by the way, in case you didn’t pick up on it.

The Hook is the first step of a well constructed break, followed by Set-Up, Dress-Up, Payoff and Blackout-and it’s the single most important of the five. With that in mind, here are some guidelines from writers that you can apply to your show.

Here’s how you can become a better storyteller:

Hook Your Audience: Do NOT start at the beginning!

Advice for first-time novelists is, “Throw away the first chapter.” Chances are, chapter 2 is where it starts to get interesting. Start THERE, where the action begins!

What if you remove the first chapter of your break? The first 30 seconds or 2 minutes of a break? Too much? Yes, this means dropping the listener right in to the middle, but if it’s well crafted and compelling, they won’t care.

Get to the meat as quickly as possible. If you’re interviewing a guest, give just enough information to establish credibility. You might even ask the first question before you introduce the guest to hook the audience on the topic. Then, back up and put the question into context.

Don’t put too much emphasis on the amount of context the listener/reader really needs in advance. They’ll get it, if you develop the story in the setup.

Show, Don’t Tell

If you have to TELL your audience that they should care, you’re screwed. They either care or they don’t. It’s either relevant or it isn’t.

The motivation for caring should be inherent in the content. That is addressed in preparation, not in performance. Don’t explain it. Just do it and make it compelling enough to gain their attention.

No History Lessons

How long would you read a book that started with a complete historical perspective before the story begins? How long would you watch a James Bond movie if they explained the character’s history instead of showing the chase scene?

If you feel obligated to include the history, at least don’t put it up front. Bury it where it’ll do the least damage.To be fair, there are some topics where history is interesting and useful, but the historical overview won’t hook your audience.

MYTH: Credibility Is Important

How many times do you see a presentation where the speaker has bullet points and slides on their background? Nobody cares. It doesn’t make what they’re talking about better. And your listeners don’t care about you, either. They care about themselves.

Don’t try and prove how smart you are. If you have something to say, say it. Your brilliance will emerge. You don’t have to give your history or background.

This demonstrates your respect for the audience by caring about their time. When you care about the quality of their time, you’ll show it off by being entertaining, engaging, compelling and interesting. Or at least usefulBy being prepared.

Hook Your Audience: 7 Tricks

If you’re struggling with hooks, or just starting out, there are a few tricks. Use them to open breaks with an impact:

Begin with a question the listener wants answered

It doesn’t have to be a literal question, of course, but suggest a question that begs to be answered by piquing their curiosity. In a good movie, the viewer is immediately intrigued: “Who is this guy? Why is he in this situation? Will he get out of it? What’s this secret thing they keep referring to?”

Make them curious

Curiosity is seduction. Sometimes we suck the life out of topics, when they could be fascinating. Find passion in your topic. Preparation. If YOU don’t care – if you aren’t curious why should they?

Be provocative

Challenge a belief. Even if they instantly disagree, they’ll stay long enough to get mad at you. Start with your most dramatic and/or unpopular assertion. Get it out there. Don’t build toward it. Say it! Then support it (again, set up).

Evoke empathy

Start with a story about real people, or a character in a scenario they identify with.

Promise there will be conflict

We would rarely read a novel or see a movie if not for the promise of conflict. Tension and suspense are compelling. How will this turn out?

Mystery, suspense, intrigue

How many bad books and movies have you stuck with just because you had to find out who did it? Even bad movies or bad books. Look at your topic and find a way to add mystery. ANYTHING worth talking or writing about has potential for mystery which plays on their curiosity.

Conclusion: Hook Your Audience

The hook is the most important part of a story, and the critical part of your radio break.

Your job is to touch the audience emotionally in some way. They remember what they feel.

Your goal should be as author Paul O’Neil stated,

Grab the reader by the throat in the first paragraph, send your thumbs into her windpipe in the second, and hold her against the wall until the end.

That’s a lofty goal, but you can start by just getting them to give you one more moment. One more tune in. Ten more seconds. Then another. And another. Every break, every moment. It will soon become habit.

This is one of the 7 points of reference for air personalities in my 7-point ratings tune up. I’ll show you how to have your best ratings period ever in an exclusive, free webinar on March 13, 2018. Get details and sign up for the webinar here.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0445


Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0445.

To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

  • Mary Fleming, manager, Molly’s Irish Grille & Sports Pub — Tide Pod drink
  • Dr. John Huber, chairman, Mainstream Mental Health — Banning best friends in schools
  • Stuart Nulman, Book Banter

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.



Working at Burli Software affords us a chance to work with some of the largest media companies in the world, and quite often requires that we keep up with the biggest markets, complete with all the exciting and complex demands that go along with that.  But what happens when you become the trusted newsroom system of a broadcasting company that services some of the smaller parts of the market?  What are the challenges there?

We sat down with Corney Unger, one of the lead technical coordinators at Golden West Broadcasting, for a chance to hear about Burli’s early days at their stations, and how they apply it today.  Unger is one of the lead contacts bridging the traditional technologies of broadcast and the data-centric world of today, and had a lot to say about their history with Burli.

Close to the Community

The first thing one needs to understand about Golden West is how closely knit it is to the community and geography it serves and lives in.  Headquartered an hour south of Winnipeg in Altona, Manitoba, Canada, Golden West is a specialist in small-town broadcasting.  It turns out being headquartered in a town of 4,100 residents really develops your sense of community.

They own 44 radio stations across central Canada in a chain stretching from Alberta to Western Ontario, mostly in smaller towns.  As such, their focus is on local, well, everything.  News, weather, sports… all of it is focused at least in part on the local happenings in rural Canada, requiring a people-focused approach that you don’t always find in larger markets these days.

Golden West’s presence across Central Canada

Which is part of why Golden West has always had a close relationship with Burli.  Going back as far as 1999 and dealing with the company’s founders, Unger describes the relationship with Burli Software as “Real people helping real people”.  He became part of Golden West that year, having graduated in broadcasting technology out of Calgary a few years earlier, and was eager to be part of an industry that was about to change right under his feet.

An Evolution in Technology

Unger remembers starting out with what would be the first Windows based computers he’d seen in a professional environment – Windows 95 was a relatively new thing, and it entered that market at roughly the same time he did.  He watched the rise of the internet as experienced in small town Canada, first using dialup modems (with the speakers de-soldered and removed so they wouldn’t screech on-air, he recalls with a laugh) and launching Burli.

Corney Unger, IT Coordinator with Golden West

Replacing Telex newswires and fax machines with an internet-enabled newsroom product was a welcome change.  Suddenly, it became easier to do almost everything – all stories were brought into a single place easily and quickly.

Flash forward to 2017, and Golden West’s approach to community broadcasting has grown leaps and bounds.  Not only are they broadcasting across dozens of AM and FM stations in the prairies, they’re also providing online content to their listeners so that those communities can stay up to date on all the media, news, and information they need.  “That’s the reality of our newsrooms”, says Unger.  “They aren’t just radio newsrooms anymore, they are basically newsrooms for [all of] our media outlets!”

Reaching Across the Center

Golden West finds their greatest value in Burli to be the ability to share data and stories across all those communities.  It’s not likely that the bigger national newswires will carry stories about your local peewee hockey team, so it’s up to them to create their own news and share it with their other member stations.  Blended in with the national feeds, the local content gives people in Central Canada lots of great reasons to stay in touch with that radio – even in an age of podcasting and RSS feeds.

So it’s no surprise that Unger was enthusiastic about Burli Newsroom’s Virtual Newsroom features.  Stories can be immediately pushed, pulled, and shared into and out of connected newsrooms no matter how far apart they are.  When you’re creating a significant chunk of your content locally, it’s truly important to share that content quickly and easily.  Burli lets you treat locally created content much the same as the national news content, and is just as easy to work with.  They’ve even started auto-dispatching stories recently, sending data from a central creation point across the region with almost no effort.

Working Together

To say Unger is pleased with Burli as a company and a support organization is an understatement.  “Burli has always been in that top 1-2-3 of recommended support, and [they know] how to do it right”, he says, “And they haven’t wavered since 1999… If we can get support like Burli gives us then I’m a happy guy”.

He describes his support interaction with Burli as straightforward and infrequent – exactly how he wants it.  “You can keep working on the new stuff, and we can keep working on our stuff!” he says with a laugh.  He’s much happier knowing that Burli can be set up and sit relatively quietly without a lot of maintenance.  He’s only in touch when something is changed as part of an upgrade or workflow shift, and even then he’s happy with the service he gets.

Unger was kind enough to grab a few comments from his newsroom staff, and although there were lots of great ones, this one from a former big city resident leapt out.  “I curse a lot less at Burli during my shifts than any other technology in the building… which, for this transplanted New Yorker, is really saying something.”

We’ll certainly take that as positive feedback.

The Stuph File Program – Episode #0444


Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0444.

To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

Dealing With Tragedy On The Air


It seems that a week rarely goes by without a tragedy in the world. Each affects your audience emotionally and personally. And almost every time, radio stations are taken by surprise because it’s impossible to plan exactly what to do in every situation But we can prepare for how to deal with tragedy and emergencies when they happen. This guide will help you sort the steps to relate to your audience when they need you most.

Of course, there are many types of tragedy and emergencies. Some are personal (a sick child, a father who’s been laid off). Others are personal to a cast member. Many times, they’re local (natural disasters, for instance). And then there’s the increasingly common events of terrorism and mass killings.

When something extraordinary happens, will you be there to reflect it, be a part of it? Are you prepared to change direction as the situation calls for it? Jeff & Jer called it the ability to change course to “know how to be really good when things are really bad.”

Radio can shine and air personalities can stand out in times of tragedy. And I’m not talking about covering the news event.

As Deborah Parenti of Radio Ink puts it:

Cable news outlets run 24/7 updates from news sources and press conferences. They hash over the events with talking heads, “experts,” and “analysts”, interspersed with a few eye witness interviews repeated over and over throughout the day. Depending on the channel, some of it is also presented through a political lens. Indeed, it’s a role they have carved out as part of their 24/7 cycle, one which has also shunted broadcast TV coverage to more of a “bulletin” status…But where radio distinguishes itself and what truly spotlights its niche among all media is/was and will continue to be, its distinct ability to reach out, dig in and be part of the community. That’s a far different role than reporting on the community.

One of the most important things you can do as an air talent is find a way to become the show to tune in when something major happens. Weather emergencies, local tragedies and city-wide celebrations are moments that matter for your show. Your link to the audience is magnified. It’s the time when you have to be at your best.

Capture The Moment Emotionally

The ability to capture the moment can be the difference between success and failure. If you are able to identify those moments when they occur, react quickly and tap into your audience’s reaction with an emotional sincerity, you can make giant strides in your goal of attaining local celebrity status. this happens when you’re able to stay within your character profile, yet speak passionately in times when listeners are highly emotional.

Great personalities are able to speak with passion. Showing that you truly care about a subject can go a long way toward winning listeners. But you can overdo it when you pour too much emotion into the presentation.

Fast Company says:

Passion in speaking is like spice in cooking. If you’ve ever added cayenne pepper to a dish, you know you need to be careful to use just the right amount. Too much emotion in your speaking is like dumping in a whole tablespoon of hot pepper—it’ll be the only thing anyone will notice, and they won’t want to finish.

Passion vs. Emotion

Passion is important in delivery, only in small doses. To connect emotionally, you’ll need to use your personality skills.

The only thing the audience will recall is your emotional display. Speak with passion to allow your message to take on vivid color but stay calm. When listeners are surprised by the intensity of emotion, they miss your message. Emotions should be the spice to your recipe, not the main ingredient.

When you’re too emotional, your show become fatiguing. A little goes a long way. Your voice can become sharp, and you come off as if you’re shouting. Or, you are overcome with grief, and your voice sounds light, lacking the power of motivation. The audience might hear you, but they won’t be listening. At least, not for long.

While staying under control, build toward a high point, and use the rhythm of your delivery to add power to segments. If you stay in the same vocal tone too long, listeners become immune to the message.

Vary your pace, tone and inflection to keep attention and cause response.

Dealing With Tragedy: How To Respond

Each tragedy requires a different response. And while there’s no formula, you can work through this process to get a handle on your reaction.

Is It Local?

The first consideration is whether the tragedy is a local event. If it is, many of the recommendations and guidelines that follow don’t apply.

When an event  disrupts life in your community, your response should be bigger and deeper. It will also have an affect on how you should react over time. If the tragedy impacts your audience where they live, plan to be talking about it more often and for a longer period of time.

But don’t avoid it because the “event” is somewhere else. Many stations get sucked into “it’s not local”. That’s just an excuse. If the audience is affected by it and is talking about it, it’s local.

Be Who You Are

Unless you’re a news station, don’t try to cover it as a news story. The temptation is to distribute information and provide updates. You may even be tempted to broadcast a sister station’s news coverage. Don’t.

If you run news on your show, isolate the facts to your newscasts. It may make sense to add more frequent news updates, depending on the impact and timing of the tragedy. But your personality content should always be emotionally connecting with the audience. And you should tease the next news update frequently.

For most shows, it’s not about providing the facts or being on top of a breaking news story. Listeners are coming to your station for your reaction. This is a time to reflect your character through the filter of the audience’s mood.

The closer the event hits your target audience, the greater your response. But don’t try to be someone else.

Adjust, Don’t Change

In other words, know who you are and what you are for. What is the primary reason your audience comes to you? Be that. Your content will adjust, of course, but don’t change the nature of your personality brand.

Sometimes personalities try to explore the reasons for a tragedy. Unless you’re a news or talk station, that’s not your role. You can’t solve the problem and your audience doesn’t expect you to come up with any solutions. The goal should be to have a strong emotional reaction, but don’t let it become a rant on all the problems that led to the event.

When tragedy strikes, you will be taken out of your routine. Your comfort zone is challenged. That’s okay. It’s good to stretch your boundaries. Just stay within yourself and don’t try to do more than you are capable of

If you’re not sure what to do, it’s more important to talk about it frequently than to talk about it in depth.  One show I work makes it a point to reference a tragic event every quarter hour in some way, but doesn’t turn the whole show into constant coverage.

Respond Quickly

Most of the time, being quick is more important than being polished. Responding quickly is key. Timing is critical. Information moves at light-speed. While you’re not going to compete for covering the story, your response must consider recent developments. And you have to be on it while the story is top-of-mind.

When San Diego was on fire (a Sunday) and tens of thousands of listeners were driven from their homes, my stations took action. By Monday afternoon, we had over $1 million in cash to give directly to the victims. We didn’t wait. We took action.

Your response will vary depending on the timing of the event. Key questions to consider:

  • How long ago did it happen? If it happens at night, and you’re on the next morning, how is your audience feeling right now? Don’t re-hash the facts and details just because you didn’t happen to be on the air at the time of the event.
  • How much does the audience know? If the story just broke, or is happening while you’re on the air, it’s still fresh, and listeners are probably not fully informed. This would require a slightly different approach. But remember, information moves quickly. They’re probably just as informed (or more) than you are.

The most important thing is to make a decision and take action. Don’t wait. You’ll miss the moment. Get on the air and get moving. Figure out the details later.

Brand Values

How closely does this tragedy hit your audience’s lifestyle? When a gunman shot up an Orlando nightclub, it affected everyone in the world, not just the local Orlando community. The same happened in the Arianna Grande concert bombings, especially for hit music stations and parents of her fans, mostly young girls.

The more it impacts the lifestyle of your audience, the more it touches your brand values. And as a result, the attention it should receive.

When you think about it, every major tragedy affects your audience’s world. Find an entry point that can be an emotional connection for your brand. That might be collecting stuffed animals for children. Or taking care of pets and animals. Or a diaper drive for moms. If you’re a Christian station, maybe there’s a church that has been impacted that you can help.

Find a need in the disaster area and focus on that.

Psychological Impact

Some tragedies are physical. Others are psychological. If the event took place in another geographic location, chances are your audience is more impacted emotionally. The more you can speak emotionally and tap into those feelings, the more effective you’ll be.

Every event has a psychological impact on at least some of your audience. Judge the extent of that damage and respond to how your audience is feeling. Then craft a response that connects with the emotions of that psychological impact.

At one station I work with, the station targets adult women, many of whom have school-aged children. The host of the show is married to a school Superintendent. Following a school shooting, the show brought him on to talk about how he’s dealing with it in the school district. How will their teachers be talking to the kids the next day?

That’s an example of injected the show’s unique personality brand into the topic. At another station, the host has four year old daughter. Following a dramatic event that involved children, the show brought a guest expert on to explain how he could talk to a four-year old about the tragedy. This is quite different than just having an expert on to talk about the event and give general advice. It puts the show’s brand into the story.

Personal Response

If you are personally affected by the news, use that emotion. Bring your perspective to the audience, especially if it’s consistent with how they’re feeling. If you can be the personality that puts into words how they are feeling, you can become a source of comfort.

However, if you’re really upset about it personally, work that out before you go on the air. Talk to someone. You need to be calm, collected and in control of the show. When you’re too emotional, your voice can become sharp, and you come off as if you’re shouting. Or, you are overcome with grief, and your voice sounds light, lacking the power of motivation. The audience might hear you, but they won’t be listening.

What You Need to Gather

While hearing you on the air brings comfort to your fans, it’s also important that you have some elements in place. Here’s what should be on your checklist to gather as soon as possible:


Assign one person the task of searching local and national websites for information that fit your brand’s needs. This can have value for on-air and your online/social presence. Make sure they follow up and stay up to date. If you don’t have a producer, recruit someone to help. It could be a friend, relative or someone from another department on the station. Your attention should be focused on how you’ll perform and craft your on-air content.

Get Contact Information:

Who can you reach as s spokesperson that has authority or can add an interesting angle? Television reporters? Newspaper people? News anchors? Depending on the situation, you might also track down community leaders from schools or businesses, head of charities, Pastors of churches, etc. Use social media to track them down. You may not use them to report on the news, but those close to the tragedy can often give you a unique angle to explore.

Interesting Personalities:

If there’s a character or two in your city that’s doing something unusual, it’s a great way to talk about the event without sounding like everyone else. Look into social media to see how ordinary people are taking action. Find the ones that are most interesting, reach out and form a relationship.

Possible Angles:

Figure out what kind of stories you will be relating. Find something unique, such as: What happens to pets? How will you protect your family to get them all in the same place? Do you need help or can you help (get folks together)? Are there scams to watch out for?

Be Real, But Positive

As the audience gets past the initial shock, they won’t want to wallow in the negativity of the story for long. Pay attention to find the right time to turn the corner and represent hope and positivity.

Most every tragedy has good news inside the horrors. Mr. Rogers called it, “Look for the helpers” and tell those stories.

Again, use social media to find sources of content. It’s even better if you can develop a relationship with one of the heroes and spotlight their story. This brings it home in a whole new way.

Public Response (Promotion)

If you’re planning a public reaction (promotion), your station should have a process in place.

Once you have a handle on the tragedy, plan your reaction. Here’s a step-by-step process for finding how to deal with tragedy on the air.

  1. If organizing a promotion or public response, make sure everything you do is user-friendly and easy to participate. Pick a high-profile public location, like a mall or major retail area. Stage it there.
  2. Then, invite partners to get involved. See if other media, such as television stations, want to participate. Chances are, they’re looking for an angle to cover without having to create their own thing. Let them promote you!
  3. Find your niche and tell that story in a powerful, sensitive and emotional way. What matches your personality and brand? Find that and make it famous

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, my station (Star 100.7) bought a giant bell, similar to the famous Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

We installed it in a public location, then invited listeners to come and honor the victims. Each name of the 2,996 victims as written on a piece of paper. Listeners came, chose a name, said the name on the air and rang the bell.

We carried it all on the air live. It took over 8 hours. No commercials. Was this great PPM programming? Of course not. It was hard to listen to. And it was a tune out. But what an impact. It was powerful, dramatic and it stood out from everything else.

It was hard and took time and resources. But it paid off.

The easy thing to do is join in the thousands of others that promote a donation code or tap into existing relief campaigns.

Don’t do that.

It’s lazy and you won’t get any credit. Not that it’s all about credit, but come on! We know why you’re doing it!

Forget about those agencies that are working on their campaigns. Why promote them? Do something on your own. Be unique and make a difference.


At the end of the day, you can’t plan these things, but you can be prepared. This is part of being a well-rounded personality with layers of audience appeal.

For more on how to speak emotionally when tragedy strikes and examples of great shows doing it well, check out How to Be Really Good When Things Are Really Bad.

Photo Credit: Freepik.com




To say podcast use in North America is on the rise would be something of an understatement.  In 2016, America’s podcast listening audience had grown an estimated 23% since 2015, and 75% since 2013 (Edison Research).  Since their rise in 2007, smartphones have turned into the perfect portal for carrying on-demand audio around with us at all times, and our culture is certainly interested in the smartphone!

Podcasting, at its heart, is a produce-and-consume model of distributing audio.  Content generators publish audio (and sometimes video) to the web, and subscribers use podcast receiving software (iTunes, Overcast, and similar) to download and play the content.  The actual downloading process on the part of the listener is usually automated, and playback is at their convenience.

To keep up in a challenging environment, many traditional radio stations have taken to podcasting as a way of staying in touch with their audiences.  Why not?  Radio has been in the business of creating high quality, captivating audio for decades, why not take advantage of that existing and constantly refreshed source of media?  There’s surely a place for professional audio engineers to capture some podcast listeners among a field of competition that has largely been developed by amateur enthusiasts.

Burli helps its customers get onto the podcast train by helping you easily convert your audio into podcasts.  From planning your show, to recording and editing, and all the way through posting it online, Burli Newsroom has it all.  Let’s take a look.

Get It Together

To be perfectly honest, there’s nothing special or different in how you prepare your audio for use in podcasting.  In fact, what we’re seeing with our customers is a tendency to take the content that was already destined to go on-air live and simply reuse it for their podcast.  When we recently spoke with Bell Media, they told us that they do exactly that – especially in their sports talk format.

With the exception of some editing around specific length and/or content, getting your audio together for use in a podcast should be relatively simple.  In fact, you can even use the automatically-generated content coming from your Burli audio logger!

Put It Online

Once the podcasting features have been enabled in Newsroom by your System Administrator, there’s not a lot of work to do to get it online for public consumption.  To start, right-click your finished audio project, and select Podcast this audio…

You’ll be taken to the Podcast Uploader screen.  All you need to do is populate some fields to describe which show you’re podcasting, and click Upload now.  Your file is uploaded, and you’re done!

Just for information, here is how the fields translate from Burli Newsroom into Apple iTunes:

Again, this all assumes your System Administrator has set up your credentials to establish a podcast channel with a provider, and given those credentials to Burli.  Once this step is complete, Burli can access the channel (or channels, if you’re creating more than one show.  The channels are available from the pull-down menu shown above).

Ingesting Podcasts

Of course, podcasts themselves are just another alternate form of audio input as far as Burli is concerned.  Newsroom allows for ingest of podcasts just as easily as any newswire.

If you have a podcast you’d like to add to your In-Queue, please speak to your System Administrator.  Then you can use that incoming audio any way you’d like.

New Fields in Audio

As the industry grows and changes, one thing is certain – we all need to change with it!  Making the leap to podcasting is just one way in which radio is quickly adapting to become a stronger and more competitive medium, and it’s also one more way Burli Software is helping our customers.

Should we discuss your business and station goals? Fill out the simple form below and we will be in touch shortly.

Request Form



The Stuph File Program – Episode #0443


Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0443.

To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

  • Lynne Matsuoka, former courtroom artist — The Watergate hearings
  • Andrew Fazekas, science writer — Falcon Heavy launch
  • Sagar Mohite, creator, Hyperspace

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.

Library Depth & How Often Songs Should Play


The ratings come in. You have a TSL (time spent listening) problem. The cume went up, but your average quarter hours are down. Your first thought is to examine music library depth.

Then the research comes in and the perceptual confirms it. Listeners say you repeat songs too much.

Listeners tell you they can predict the next song, and air talent is constantly complaining about having to play the same music over and over. You get phone calls asking why you play the same songs over and over.

What’s a programmer to do? Your natural reaction is logical. The answer is obvious, right? Fix this problem by adding more titles to the library to reduce fatigue and increase variety.

It won’t work.

9 Realities of Music Library Depth

In fact, slowing rotations is exactly the wrong move. Here’s why:

Ratings Are Misleading

There’s an inverse relationship between cume growth and TSL decline. I call it the two-switch theory of radio programming.

When reach (weekly cume) increases, it’s almost always a result of attracting secondary and tertiary listeners, not fans. These secondary listeners spend far less time with your station, so average TSL naturally declines.

Your audience reach has increased! Congratulations. You should expect a lower TSL. Avoid knee-jerk reactions to ratings.

More Songs=Weaker Library

You were already playing the best music for your audience (well, probably). That’s probably one reason  you’re attracting more listener to your station.

Every song added is weaker than what is on. It has less appeal to the cume you’ve attracted. As a result, it dilutes the power of your playlist.

The more songs you add, the weaker your library. The appeal of the station goes down and you lose the button-punch battle.

What’s Your Criteria?

If library depth is based on music testing, re-evaluate the criteria used to merit airplay.

Many programmers gravitate toward playing songs with low negative scores. That seems logical, but many times, the songs with higher negatives also bring out more favorites. Removing high negative songs may result in less frequent reasons for the audience to leave, but it also chases away passionate positives in some song scores. That passion is the incentive to stay tuned.

Theoretical attempts to reduce tune-out can cause bland stations. Those “non-negative’ songs almost always lack strong positives resulting in a “sameness” factor that is fatiguing and adds to a repetition perception.

Weak Song Repetition

Repetition issues arise when playing too many average or weak songs, not listener favorites. Playing a bad song once is one time  too many. My favorite song? You can’t play it often enough.

Test this theory the next time a listener complains. Ask which song is played too much. Then ask if they LIKE that song. Chances are they don’t. Then ask for their FAVORITE song and if you also play that too much. They’ll say “No, you should play it more”. Most likely, it’s in the same, or more frequent, rotation.

Sound Repetition

Repetition is also influenced by “sameness of sound”. Similar songs by the same artist (especially over-played recurrents and gold) add to fatigue.

And artists who tend to sound the same can increase perceived repetition.

Many/most listeners don’t distinguish between similar sounding songs by the same artist (Katy Perry, for example) and familiar songs by similar sounding artists. So while your music software is not breaking your scheduling rules, listeners hear it differently.

Not Your Fault-Maybe

Listeners generally have no idea which station they’re listening to when they hear a song. They heard it on the radio and assign “repetition” to their favorite station. Congratulations! That’s you! You’ll be credited for a repetition image, even if you’re not the station causing it.

It’s not fair, but it’s reality. And there’s not much you can do about it.

So if listeners are going to assign you a repetition image, at least be repetitious with  the best songs!

Or Maybe It Is

Repetition often results from poor music scheduling more than library depth. Listeners are creatures of habit, tuning in at the same times each day. You can have the largest library in all of radio, but if the same songs play in the same dayparts, hours and quarter-hours, they won’t experience the depth of your library.

It doesn’t matter how many titles you play if listeners hear the same ones. Another overlooked factor is repetition based on lifestyle. If they hear the same song on their drive to and from work, you might have a repetition problem.

Repetition Images May Be Good

If they really are hearing the same songs over and over on your station, that means they’re listening-a lot. Attempting to “fix” this “problem” removes the reason they listen in the first place, and reduces your appeal to both heavy listening fans and those who listen much less.

The more popular your station becomes, the more your repetition complaints will rise. Wear it like a badge of honor!


Fans always say they want “more variety”. We assume they want more depth and breadth in music.

What they want is more variety of their personal favorites. You can’t satisfy personal favorites, because everyone has a different idea of what that favorite is. Trying to satisfy the library depth problem will take you down a dark, lonely path toward ratings oblivion.

Personal Bias & Library Depth

Face it. You listen more than anyone else to your radio station. Your average P1 invests just a few minutes a day with your station. Don’t you want them to hear the best version of your brand every time? Can you afford to have their hear anything else?

That alone will lead to a tighter playlist.

It’s only natural for your personal tastes and preferences to creep into music decisions. Fight the temptation to compromise the best interest of the station because you like a certain song or genre of music.

Yes, your “gut” is important, but not as important as programming to the preferences of the audience.

When In Doubt, Leave It Out

One of my earliest programming lessons came from consultant Frank Felix. In an ultra-competitive battle between two classic rock stations, I was an advocate of a longer playlist. Playing “Stairway” every 19 hours seemed like a sure way to burn our library and develop negative images.

To Felix, library depth was an easy problem to solve.

I’ll never forget Frank telling me:

The way to defeat a direct competitor is that when they play nothing but the 20 greatest songs of all time, you play the 19 greatest. That way, once every 20 songs, you’re playing a bigger hit.

That philosophy applies to all competitive situations. Listeners never get tired of hearing their favorite songs. They quickly tire of average songs they don’t like so much.

If you’re not sure about those borderline songs that could go either way, leave them off. Generally speaking, it’s true that you don’t get hurt by what you don’t play.

Program For Passion

When assigning songs to categories, pay particular attention to those songs with high passion. Favor those with the most favorite scores. Many songs test well because nobody dislikes them. Those songs usually have low burn, and are very play-able.

However, they don’t deliver the same excitement as high-scoring songs driven by favorites. It’s fine to accept more burn in a high-passion song.

This applies especially to CHR stations. How many powers should you have? There really aren’t more than 3-4 true power hits at any given time. Beyond that are titles that are not yet familiar or lack the passion. Avoid the temptation to add more “A” songs, just to fill the category. It’s better to adjust the category based on the strength of current music.


If short playlists beat large lists, how can you maximize your library? Learn to recycle effectively.

Very few listeners tuned in between 10am and 5pm will also be listening from 11pm to 6am. In fact, almost none. So why waste fresh library tracks when virtually nobody will hear the variety?

Recycling recurrent and gold categories is simply replaying the songs used during certain daytime hours in the overnight.

Some stations take it a step further and replay the exact playlist overnight. This allows the music programmer to spend more time perfecting the schedule in the most important hours rather than wasting resources on low-leverage times.

Most music scheduling systems handle recycling easily.


Finding the right rotations is more art than science, and it will take some trial and error to find the balance that works best for your brand.

Exercise discipline, objectivity and use research tools as a guide.


The Stuph File Program – Episode #0442


Welcome to the latest edition of the Stuph File Program.

For a program list of the items included and all their accompanying links in this one hour show, you can find the information on my website in the Stuph File Program section, or just follow this link to #0442.

To download the podcast, right click here and select “Save Link As”

Featured in this episode:

Click logo for iTunes podcast subscription If you have any comments or suggestions, or items for the mailbag, feel free to click on the “Comments” link below to add your thoughts.