Humor Skills Training on the Radio: Innovation in Radio broadcasting

A Weekly Series of Live Radio Broadcasts was devoted to helping seniors Learn to Use their Sense of Humor to Promote Greater Resilience, Health and Happiness between February 10 and May 25, 2012.  

These broadcasts occurred as a featured segment of the popular show, The Bright Side of Aging, hosted by Ike Englebaum in Detroit, Michigan [WNZK (690 AM) & WCXI (1160 AM) in the Detroit, Michigan area & on the Internet at www.birach.com (or directly at http://wnzk.birach.com:9000].  The featured guest for these programs was Dr. Paul McGhee, President of The Laughter Remedy in Wilmington, DE. Dr. McGhee is internationally known for his own research on humor and has published 15 books on the topic. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his research and active promotion of therapeutic humor from both Oakland University (Rochester, MI) and the American Association for Therapeutic Humor.

This series of broadcasts marked an innovative breakthrough in radio broadcasting. A weekly live radio show was used as a vehicle for actively engaging listeners around the world in working on improving their sense of humor and learning to use humor to cope with the stress in their lives.

* Note: While these humor programs occurred in the context of a radio show on aging, all of the humor training ideas presented work for adults (and teens) of all ages.

The Health and Happiness through Humor series of shows began on Jan 13, 2012. The Jan. 13, 20, 27 & Feb. 3 shows discussed the physical health benefits resulting from humor and how humor helps cope with the stress in one’s life.  Beginning Feb. 10, and continuing through April, each show offered seniors guidelines for improving a specific component of their sense of humor. Listeners then spent the next 7 days cultivating specific Habits related to that part of their sense of humor before moving on to the next set of Humor Habits.

This was the first time anything like this had been done on live radio. Participants around the world, listening via the Internet, spent a three- or four-month period building the basic foundation humor skills needed to boost emotional resilience and use humor to cope.

Research in university settings in 6 countries has documented the effectiveness of this 7 Humor Habits Program. The Program has also been shown to work with seniors (average age in their 70s).

Using this Program (in 2013 and beyond) in the Context of Patient Support Groups or Senior Residential Communities

Activity Directors in Senior Residential Communities, leaders of patient (e.g., cancer) support groups and leaders of other kinds of ongoing self-help support group were encouraged to use the radio broadcasts to go through the 7 Humor Habits Program in a systematic fashion. To do so, the discussion leader obtained a copy of the complete manual for the Program, which is contained in Dr. McGhee’s book, Humor as Survival Training for a Stressed-Out World: The 7 Humor Habits Program.  Guidelines for leading a weekly discussion of each Humor Habit are provided in the book. This book contains the 7 Humor Habits Program in its entirety, so a much fuller and more detailed set of activities and exercises for building humor skills is provided than occurred in the radio broadcasts. If you are a member of a Senior Living Community, or part of a regular group meeting at a Senior Center, it is too late to listen to the broadcasts themselves.  But you can still use the Feb. 10 – May 25 weekly articles at this website (listed under Radio Humor Training) as a source of weekly activities and exercises to practice to progressively boost your own sense of humor.

How Individual Seniors or Senior Living Communities should use the Weekly Habit-Building Exercises provided for the Radio Series.

If you are currently (June, 2013 and beyond) participating in one of Dr. McGhee’s ongoing Senior Humor Get-togethers at the Brew Ha Ha (in Wilmington, DE), or participating as part of a group going through the 7 Humor Habits Program in a Senior Living Community or a Senior Center, use these weekly articles under RADIO HUMOR TRAINING–starting Feb 10, 2012–as   a guide for completing some of the exercises and activities known to improve specific components of your sense of humor.  You can start doing this at any time–like right now!  If you have a question regarding how to lead such a group in your Senior Center, contact Dr. McGhee at paulmcghee@verizon.net.  The key is to take one week’s suggested activities at a time, starting with the Feb 10 guidelines, and continue on a consistent weekly basis until you have completed the entire Humor Training. Just do as many of the activities as you can.  You don’t have to do them all to make progress; but, the more you do, the more progress you’ll make.

Take a Test Assessing your Sense of Humor Right now!

If you plan to go through the Humor Training, go right now to the February 3, 2012 article under Radio Humor Training and take the Sense of Humor Test there.  This will give you a baseline for determining your progress when you finish the Training.  You’ll then be ready to start your own Humor Training with the Feb. 10 article.