Radio as a Tool

The Importance of Music in Radio Programming

One of my trainers during a Broadcast Training once said that Music is like a brother to radio. It is a mode of communication which just like language can be used to identify people, tribes, ethnics, religion, caste, generation and even ideological belief.

Music is an aspect of culture that cannot be neglected. It informs, educates and entertains which is the tripod upon which Radio was founded. Whether ‘wack’ or good, any organized sound that is pleasant to the ear can be referred to as music. Meanwhile, being ‘wack’ is relative. And that explains why Patapaa’s One Corner can be referred to as a song and Vic O as a music artiste.

We cannot discuss Radio without discussing Music simply because of its huge importance in Radio programming. No radio station can operate without music. However, the kind of music they play differs at one point or the other. This is because the preference of music for a radio station is subject to the vision and mission of the station. What you’ll hear on Bond 92.9 FM, you probably won’t hear it on The Beat 99.9 FM. And what plays on Amuludun 99.1 FM might never make it to the air on Inspiration 100.5 FM.


Kent Teeters samples a lot of music on his Classical 101 show on Wosu Radio
Kent Teeters samples a lot of music on his Classical 101 show on Wosu Radio (Wosu Public Media)

The Music Librarian

A lot of things are falling apart in the construct of Radio stations these days else all Radio stations should have a dedicated music librarian.

This is a personnel whose responsibility is to sample music, discover sounds and update the music library regularly. He also experiments with various modes of musical transition throughout the broadcast schedule while preparing the music log for daily programming. He does the compilation of the music with which the station is identified.

More often than not, the Duty Continuity Announcer, Programmes Producer, the Radio DJs and even the Presenters are left to fulfill these responsibilities these days. Safe for a few Radio stations that still reckon with the importance of keeping all things professional on Radio. The argument on whether Radio DJs are good substitutes for Music Librarians is still one for another day.


Importance of Music on Radio
Vinyl (Ethos 3)

Now, Let’s Talk About the General Uses of Music on Radio

Music can be used for different functions at different stages of broadcast programming. It can be used as;


Preludes are broadcast items used to prepare the listeners for a major event in programming. Music offers a very viable option as prelude as it enables the essence of the programming event to be fully realized.

Think of the National Anthem before the President’s nationwide broadcast as a prelude. A couple of Maher Zain and Yusuf Islam songs or even Quran recitation before the Live Broadcast of the Jumat Service on Friday is a prelude. The Senwele Jesu, Nathaniel Bassey and Lara George songs on a wonderful Sunday morning are preludes to the broadcast of the Sunday service. These packages of music are actually compiled to achieve a certain objective therefore can be referred to as prelude.



Music comes handy in programming when there is the need to break the monotony of words and silence used in broadcast, reduce stress, and increase the attention span of the listener. This period of music, coming in-between broadcast can be referred to as an interlude.


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Sometimes you just want your listener to consciously peruse the message of an outgoing broadcast, or revel in or savour its essence and leave a more lasting impact. In programming, this can be effectively done with music. It can be an extended compilation of the packages of music used in the prelude.

So the President discussed on the challenges facing the country during his nationwide broadcast, then songs like Sunny Okosun’s ‘Which Way Nigeria’, Onyeka Onwenu’s ‘One Love Keep Us Together’ or KSA’s ‘The Way Forward’ are perfect for postlude.

The Imam’s sermon was about asceticism and life, then songs like Ilyas Mao’s ‘Life of This World’, Maher Zain’s ‘For The Rest of My Life’ or Kamal Saleh’s ‘The Meaning of Life’ are perfect postlude in this case.

Now during the Sunday service, the Reverend spoke about faith, then songs like Jeremy Camp’s Walk By Faith which was first released in his 2002 album – Stay, songs like Mandisa’s Overcomer or Don Moen’s ‘God Will Make a Way’ can be used as postlude.

These songs as postlude will enable the listener to consciously digest the message passed across during the broadcast.


Fill – Up 

Thinking of Fill-Up brought back a funny experience I witnessed when I was with Petals 102.3 FM, Ibadan. This is it. Madam Adebisi Ogunjimi – an amazing broadcast journo by the way – anchors Female Front, a weekly programme on the Morning Belt of the station which focuses on all issues about women.

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And I usually assist her with getting things set up for the programme. So there is this particular day when we had one ‘Wonder Woman’ featured on the show as a guest. The woman came around and was dropping heavy grammatical blunders while responding to the questions thrown at her by Madam Bisi. The blunders were too much to handle and we just had to stop the show knowing fully well that multitudes are listening to her right away.

We didn’t have a surrogate guest since we didn’t see that coming at all. So, music came to our rescue. Even when we weren’t so comfortable with the idea of cutting short a 55-minute programme to about 15 minutes or thereabout while filling the rest with music, we just had no choice.

Of course, sometimes programmes end some minutes short of scheduled time. At times they come a few minutes late or fail entirely. Music is aptly used to fill up the time. In the case of an entirely failed broadcast, it then becomes a musical programme.


Mood Creation

A situation may arise that requires a particular mood to be communicated. More often than not, music comes in handy. This is why Jaywon’s Odun Yi, Dammy Krane’s Amin, CAC Good Women Choir’s Odun N Lo Sopin, Small Doctor’s This Year and a host of other songs will continue to gain massive airplay few weeks before the end of the year and several weeks into the New Year.

The Late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister’s Omo Nigeria, 9ice’s Promise and Fail, 2Face’s ‘Vote Not Fight’ are just few amongst others amazing songs that can be played on Radio to create the mood and increase the consciousness that we are in an election year.



A montage is a series of sounds (music) blended together in sequence and used to effect a particular mood. It is also used to suggest a chain of events or the passage of time.



A jingle is a short piece of music, complete in itself, sing able by all, and used to promote or advertise an idea or product. Jingles have become indispensable tools on radio due to commercialization. Also the increase in the need for public service announcement, personal paid announcement etc has birthed the abundance of jingles on Radio.


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Signature Tune

A piece of music can be used as signature tune which is also known as Sig Tune. These are short musical items used to identify a personality or a program on Radio. In the name of branding, I observed that indigenous broadcasters are employing personal signature tunes as a means of promoting themselves.

And among those who do this pretty much well is one time Lagos Fiban boss, Yomi Mate. I have also noticed this trend in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital where Babatunde Saheed of Fresh 105.9 FM, Kola Olootu and Ajibola Akinyefa both of Lagelu 96.7 FM as well as indie broadcaster Oriyomi Hamzat brilliantly employ the personal signature tune to promote their brand.



Station ID/Call Sign

A station Identification is a short piece of music cum effect which is used to identify a radio station. It is that short piece of music with which broadcast stations make themselves distinct on air typically by means of a call sign or brand name. It is so important that it is part of the requirements of licensing authorities in some countries.


Wrapping Up

These are the general uses of Music in Radio Programming. If you think I have missed any of the uses, kindly let me know in the comment section. I’ll definitely take it up from there.

Meanwhile, this is not to be confused with the uses of music in program production. They are two different things. This is talking about the uses of music generally on a Radio station. While the uses of music in program production is more specific on the different ways of using music in a particular program.

I will possibly discuss that extensively in the next tutorial and come back here to attach the link. So watch out!

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