Who Needs Radio Timechecks These Days?

Who Needs Radio Timechecks These Days?

“It’s 10 minutes passed 8 o’clock”

“A couple’a minutes before 10”

“The time is now 7:30”

Timechecks – it’s radio’s most popular adlib. Broadcasters do it to inform listeners of the current time, some DJs deliver timechecks before a newscast, some radio stations capitalize on timechecks, while most of the time DJs just babble about time, or in short they just timecheck because they have got nothing else to say.

Fillers or whatever, are timechecks really necessary nowadays? Sure, not everyone is wearing a digital or analog clock on his or her wrist, but do we really need to be reminded often about the time.

On average, a disc jockey on an FM station does timecheck three times in an ho ur. Where did we get this data? Well, just listen to your favorite station and you will know. Is it really necessary to check the time three times an hour?

Well, let me ask you. On a typical day without radio, how frequent are you glancing at the clock or on you wristwatch? Perhaps in the morning, you’d probably be keeping track of the time four times only. First, when you wake up. Second, before you leave the house for work or school. Third, during break time. And fourth, before lunch.

So, is there a point in knowing the time three times in an hour?

Sure, time is gold. And the intention of reminding us frequently of the time by radio DJs is noble. Thank you very much! But hey, some talented DJs can’t get enough of reading the time every time they adlib. Like, there is nothing more juicy and meaty to say other time.

There is also another issue about timechecks. It’s not only the frequency, the issue also has something to do with the delivery. Well, let me ask you another question, do you prefer a digital clock or an analog clock?

When I was a kid, I always wanted to have a digital watch because I had difficulty reading the time on an analog clock.  I used to literally point my finger on the minute markers and count from 1 to 60 just to be able to tell the exact time.

But in my adulthood my preference has changed. The analog clock proved to be more helpful not because I’ve learned to master the art of reading analog clocks. But because an analog clock VISUALLY helps me read and manage time better than the digital counterpart.

Suppose you need to be in the office at 8:00 and it’s already 7:43, it would be easy to tell how fast the jeepney should catch up with an analog clock than with a digital one, is not it?

Digital clocks are, of course, beneficial in other applications like sports, competitions, scientific studies, etc.

See, this is what radio broadcasters are missing out so much. Sports coaches, contest judges, and scientists do not use radio to measure or observe time. Radio listeners depend on the timechecks on a relationship basis. Are you getting this now?

Now let me ask you this third question? Which timecheck format do you prefer to hear? Take note, the word is HEAR. Because, you know it’s easy for us to read, process, and understand time if we have a digital or analog clock right in front of our face. It’s a completely different story if someone else reads the time for us. It takes longer for our brains to process time audibly then if we get it visually, is not it?

Now which timecheck format do you prefer:

a.) digital format  e.g. ”10:45”
b.) rounded-up format e.g. “it’s a quarter before 8” or “the time is half passed 9”
c.) non-digital format e.g. ”the time is 13 minutes after 7” or “it’s 9 after 10”

I understand that some of you might answer “it depends”. While some of you could be stringent on a specific format. See, “it depends” and the “specific” are the points that most radio stations are missing out these days.

Some of us listeners prefer the digital format, while some prefer the rounded up, or whatever. The safest way to read the time is the digital format. This is what my mentor taught me when I was a DJ trainee. It’s safe and quick to deliver. “The time on (your favorite radio station name here) is 10:45” and the DJ is done.

Now, I understand that we DJs always want to ornament our words, so the radio world came up with different reads, and thus born the rounded up and the non-digital ways of reading time.

Okay, so let’s get this straight. I understand that there are DJs who really love to use ornamented ways to do timechecks. Remember the timechecks are not for you DJs or announcers, or newscasters, it’s for the listeners.

So let’s look at an average listener. An average listener has around eight major important points in his or her daily activity. Here is an outline:

1. The time he/she wakes up (5:00-7:00 am)
2. The time he/she eats breakfast (7:00 am onwards)
3. The time he/she leaves the house for school/work/others (before 8:00 am)
4. Break time (before 9:00 am)
5. Lunch time (before 12:00 am)
6. Time before he/she goes back to work in the afternoon (before 1:00 pm)
7. Break time (before 3:00 pm)
8. Time before he/she leaves school/work/others (before 5:00 pm)

Remember that this is only from the average listener. Now you notice that there are INDICATED TIMES on every point. These are the moments when he or she needs to know the time.

It is important that during those indicated times, the timecheck should give the listener a visual representation. During these times, the listener does not mind about the exact time. What he or she needs is how long the time has already passed or how long is it before the next hour.

Which is BASICALLY why the two formats: rounded-up and non-digital are more preferable during those crucial times!

For example, a student who just woke up at 7:20 am and has a class to catch up at 8:00, processes a timecheck easily if he gets a visual representation of the timecheck. Instead of saying, “7:43”, the DJ might as well round it up and say “it’s almost a quarter before 8 o’clock”. That’s easier to digest, is not it?

Or for an office worker who usually wakes up at 5 am, it would be easy for her to digest the timecheck, if the announcer says “it’s 10 minutes after 5”.

Another example is the time before the office worker leaves the workplace. It’s helpful if the DJ reminds the listener that it is already “15 minutes before 5 o’clock” than if you say “4:45”.

Now during those NON-CRUCIAL TIMES, it is best that the DJ uses the digital format. In the office place, nobody cares if it’s already 30 minutes after 8 o’clock. Not unless, you want to remind them how long they’ve been already late.

SO, during those NON-CRUCIAL TIMES, DJs, please limit your timechecks to one.

Now, this does not end here. There might be exceptions and we leave those exceptions to you DJs, announcers, or whatever. But please, use your common sense. If you have lost your common sense though, is here is a guide.


1. Do not over-use the rounded up format. It’s always safe to give the EXACT time.
2. Do not be reckless when using the “after” or “passed the hour” style. It’s unnecessary, impractical, and unforgivable to say “the time is already 43 minutes passed the hour of 3”.
4. Do not be reckless when using the “before” or “to go” style. It’s forbidden, illogical, and inhumane to say “it’s 53 minutes to go before 10 o’clock”.
5. Do not be a MOTOR MOUTH when doing the timecheck. Whatever format you use, say it clearly and smartly.


4 thoughts on “Who Needs Radio Timechecks These Days?”

  1. hi! 🙂 this is a great article. i never thought much about time checks before. funny thing, as i was reading your post, the jock on the streaming radio station i was listening to just made a time check. 🙂 thanks for this. 🙂 its great advice for jocks in training.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.