Industry Views

SABO SEZ: Seek New Story Sources and Surprise Your Listeners

By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media Implementers
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, “Sterling On Sunday”
Talk Media Network

imEarlier this week, Michael Harrison published his top 10 list of suggestions for being a successful talker. Item number three really caught my eye:

“Avoid worn out talking points. Be original. Always bring something new to the table. Otherwise you DESERVE to be replaced by AI.”

 When consulting client stations, the PD and I will take the on-air team through a pragmatic brainstorm session to discover completely unused source material.

First the material should be intriguing to you and appealing to your listener (singular.) New sources mean surprises and the fastest and most economical method of generating word of mouth, phone calls and cume is to present surprises all day.

1. Close to home. Pay foreground attention to incidents at home. Your home. Events that you may view as mundane could bond you with your listener. Consider that water in the basement, check engine light, parent/teacher conference, bad bank behavior, in-law interference. If any of those experiences has happened to you, you honestly know that they are a bigger deal than speeches in Congress.

2. Search the names of locations that you never discuss. Those searches have revealed to me and my listener that the number one fear in Siberia is the vast forest fires and that as the permafrost melts, it could expose million-year-old deadly viruses. One “Siberia news” search. Try this, search “Keith Fons North Pole Alaska” You will discover a bizarre Christmas story.

3. Local morning TV shows have unique fun stories that you don’t see because you’re listening to the radio. Go to their websites and you will see all of their topics, with audio, dated. 

Take a different approach to proven topics. A trait of successful hosts is that they discuss common topics but take a very different tact. Some examples: When TV legend Ann Bishop of WPLG Miami died, fellow broadcaster Neil Rogers mourned Bishop by saying, “She did nothing for me, sir.”

On crime in Cleveland, the late Mike Trivisonno on WTAM declared, “the best thing that could happen is for the Mafia to come back to Cleveland.”

Howard Stern surprises you every time he opens his mouth. It’s the fresh topics combined with surprising POV=Star. 

Walter Sabo has an outstanding track record advising media companies wishing to increase their share of revenue. His weekly syndicated show Sterling On Sunday aims to provide three hours of completely unique topics.  Contact him at or 646.678.1110