Clock Orientation

Article 6 min
Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class, Christopher Snider, explores clock orientation and why it's so important. In this American Forces Network (AFN) Radio Refresher video, MC2 Snider covers simple time delivery, time of day context, fun and interaction.

Simple Time Delivery

Help your listener know the time during a rushed drive to work or while they're doing chores around the house. It's a simple but effective way to help your listener know the time during their busy day. Pepper time checks into your breaks. However, saying the time at the beginning or end of breaks is a very easy on-air crutch a DJ can develop. So stay fresh and avoid sounding formulaic with your time delivery.


...and that special menu item won't last for long. Steve Miller Band gets it, 7:53 and time keeps on slipping into the future. Just like the deadline this Friday to sign up for the Shape Half marathon. We've got your news and sports in just a few, but first, it's time to Fly Like an Eagle.

Clock Orientation

Knowing where you are in your hour in relation to the top-of-the-hour news, spot breaks, news breaks and how the time of day affects the listener is time clock orientation.

Per the Eagle Playbook, Part 1, page six, you can see what elements should play at certain times during your hour. Your affiliate may have features to plug into the Eagle format; consider all this when building your show prep.

When listeners get ready for work in the morning, time checks are more important than in the later half of your show when they're already at work. Realizing that traffic is vital in the morning shows good time clock orientation. People need to know if they should budget more time for their commute or if they need to avoid their usual route because of an accident. Your morning show should have plenty of traffic updates. 

Symbol of an ā€œiā€ within a black circle representing a note of additional information. NOTE: Avoid "DJ speak." Your listener is not orienting their day in solid one-hour blocks. Never wrap up your hours by saying things like "That about does it for this hour, but in the next hour..." etc.

Is it raining? Do I need a jacket or an umbrella? Your listener is counting on you to tell them how to navigate their day. If the weather will impact your community, ensure your show prep includes mentions of what that impact will be. Units getting ready for PT will appreciate knowing if it's muddy. They may also be interested in the morning chow hall menu and fitness topics.

Time of Day Context

Morning First Half

Thinking of clock orientation, parents get their kids ready and drop them off at school in the morning. Families like to know what the lunch menu at the local school is to plan their day. The morning is also a great time to talk about SAT sign-ups, deadlines for youth sports and calls for volunteer coaches. Maximize this time by pre-recording or scheduling a call-in with a morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) rep, your school liaison officer or a family readiness group member who can speak directly to these topics.

Morning Second Half

Once people settle into work, the second half of a morning show can transition into more content about upcoming events that provide stress relief or entertainment. The person who just sat down at their desk to an inbox full of emails may appreciate you reminding them of a movie opening on base this week or an upcoming MWR trip.


If you're on air during midday hours, you can help listeners with time checks as people often try to squeeze appointments into their lunch hour, and they want to be on time. What's for lunch? Listeners want to know if they should head to the chow hall or the grocery store. The early part of an afternoon show is a great time to promote evening events. People are busy. Remind them how they can relax after work.

Before school lets out is a great time to hit critical issues affecting service members and their families, such as policy changes and upcoming base initiatives. Your listeners work or commute, so keep them informed with DoD and local updates.

As the school day comes to a close, start pushing information that families may find important, like teen center hours, art classes, family readiness group meetings, etc. You're hanging out in the car with families as they pick their kids up from school and head home. Think about what's important to them.

Late Afternoon/Early Evening

Traffic becomes essential again as rush hour picks up. People want to get home and relax. Keep them informed and entertained. The early evening is a perfect opportunity to remind people of this week's commissary sale or the special meal at the recreation center. People are hungry and tired after work. Give them a reason to smile. That soldier that's had a long day at work may love to hear that AFN is premiering their favorite show or movie on tv tonight. Check your page so you can mention what's on air for your listeners.

Fun and Interaction

The later part of an afternoon show is a perfect time to integrate contests or interactive questions that bring your listener into your program. Riddles do well later in the evening. People want to feel like they get a win after a long day. Guessing the correct answer to a question can do just that.

Symbol of an ā€œiā€ within a black circle representing a note of additional information. NOTE: You can also incorporate this into your morning show to start your listeners' day off with a "win."

Clock orientation requires you to think in the context of your listener and what's important to them; build this during your show prep. The more you reflect on your listeners' needs, the better you can serve your community.

Appropriate clock orientation makes a compelling and relevant show. Get creative, try new things and, most importantly, have fun. My, my look at the time. I've got to go. Practice makes perfect. Have a great show.

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