5 tips for making radio playlists

Radio presenting skills

Playlists are very important for your radio station. Making a playlist requires a lot of work and good thinking. There are many factors to think about and taking this seriously can make a difference in the success of your radio station. In this article, you can read our five best tips for making radio playlists.


The first thing that you need to decide is the theme of the playlist. Playlists need to be coherent, so that people recognize the songs as belonging to the same theme or genre. This will make it feel like a whole and not just random songs. You can base your theme on many things, such as a specific mood the listener is in, a certain emotion, the best songs from a specific period in history, a genre of music, the current season, specific instruments, the language of the songs and many more. You can also think about when people are going to listen the songs. For example, early in the morning listeners might like to hear more relaxed and calms songs, so that they can wake up easily and have a good start of their day.


The structure of the list is very important. By this we mean the order of the songs and the variety within the songs. It has to be very balanced. On the one hand, the playlist should be a coherent set of songs with a theme that they share. But on the other hand, the playlist should not be boring. If the songs are too much the same, it is not interesting to listen to for the listeners. In conclusion, you need some variety in your songs, but they still need to have the same overarching theme of feeling. Also the order is important. Imagine you have selected some calmer songs and some more up-tempo songs. You do not want to play all the calm songs in a row and after that all the up-tempo songs. They should be mixed up, so the playlist is interesting and not boring.

Choosing the songs

Of course you should choose songs that you like yourself. People listen to your station, because they have a similar taste in music, so if you love a song, there is a big chance that they might like that song too. But it is too simplistic to just choose some songs you like. Ask yourself the following questions when you consider to choose a song for your playlist: Do I like the song? Does the song fit in with the theme of the playlist? Does the song fit with my radio station? Is the song listened to by many people at the moment?

Keep the playlist updated

When you are done with the playlist and you have put a lot of energy in making it, you want to use it multiple times. This is very normal for radio stations. However, if your listeners get bored with your playlist, you have a problem. To prevent this from happening, you should keep the playlist updated. You can do this by removing some songs and adding new ones. You should always try to find a good balance between songs that feel familiar for the listeners and songs that recently came out that you want to introduce your listeners to. People like to recognize songs they have heard before, so a playlist with too many new songs will probably not work. But people also listen to the radio to discover new songs, so they do not want to hear only the songs they already know. As you can see, it is all about trying to find the right balance.

Listen to your own playlist

With all these tips, you are probably able to create a good playlist, but how do you know if it is really a good playlist to listen to? Just try it! You can keep thinking about the balance, the coherence of the list and the variety between the songs, but music is not so much about thinking as it is about feeling and experiencing. Therefore it is very useful to just try the experience. Play your playlist and listen. If you notice some songs are not ideal to be played after one another, write it down. If you hear that you have too much songs from the same artist or songs that are too much alike, also write it down. And lastly, if you hear songs that, now that you hear them, do not fit in the playlist that well after all, write it down. With these notes you can revisit your playlist and optimize it, so that the listeners can enjoy your improved playlist.

Hopefully, with these five tips, you can make a good radio playlist, which will make many listeners happy and helps grow your radio station. 

Related blogs