Twitter Tips from WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show: Ask Good Questions, Tweet Meaning, And Be A Team

Mar 26, 2014

A tweet from the Brian Lehrer Show's Twitter account featuring a behind the scenes picture of host, Brian (L) and his brother Warren (R.)
Credit Emily Alfin Johnson/NPR

Here at Digital Services, we're checking in with shows around the country about their digital best practices and strategies. Have a suggestion for a post or show to talk to? Email it to or tweet it to us @NPRDS.

The team behind WNYC’s two hour midday program, The Brian Lehrer Show, has made Twitter a huge part of the digital life of the show. I spoke with host, Brian Lehrer and Associate Producer Jody Avirgan about how they find the time, and some of the lessons they’ve learned along the way.  

Make Twitter A Team Effort:

By having more than one person at the helm of the @BrianLehrer Twitter handle, the feed stays active and engaging even after the show is off air. Jody handles the bulk of the conversational contributions, and interns schedule tweets for the afternoon hours linking back to the day’s segments. Brian also contributes – signing his tweets, “BL.”

A few of Brian's tweets.
Credit Emily Alfin Johnson/NPR

They have found that online users connect with Brian as an identifiable person from on air and engage with his Twitter contributions at a much higher rate.  “I’ve joked that I could write a tweet, and he could write the exact same one and just put, ‘BL’ at the end, and his will get a much bigger response,” said Jody.

Work Twitter Into Your Existing Workflow:

While it’s not easy during a busy day of production, Brian makes time to comment on important moments from the show on twitter, and on developing news. He even keeps his iPad close at hand while on air, to follow the conversation on Twitter. When possible, he will tweet while watching the Sunday shows, and when reading on weekend afternoons.

Be A News Resource:

This one Jody picked up from the show’s neighbors at WNYC, On the Media: Instead of tweeting exclusively about show content, On the Media has turned their handle into the go to place for new and information about their beat - media and technology.


The team behind On The Media's twitter handle, curates their tweets and retweets to create a reliable source for media news and fun information.
Credit Emily Alfin Johnson/NPR

Good Questions Equal Good Engagement, On Air and Online:

Experienced talk show teams know that crafting the right questions for callers is key - but it is just as important when starting conversations online. “Sometimes it feels like the wording of how we’re going to ask the question is the thing we spend the most time on each day.” Jody admitted. Audiences online aren’t going to engage with, “...tell us your thoughts.” the way they will engage with “When do you get to call yourself a New Yorker?"

Jody and Brian’s number one tip for shows?  “Tweet meaning, not promotion.”

To learn more about social media strategy for shows, check out: 

To read more about how some shows are putting tips like these into action, read our conversation with NHPR's Word of Mouth, and OPB's Think Out Loud.

The Brian Lehrer Show team be joining us for a Twitter chat on digital strategy for shows,Wednesday, March 26th at 2:30pm EST. Have a question for the chat? Send it to us by tweeting @NPRDS and include #Showschat, or email it to