When most of us start out on-air, and once we’ve cleared the hurdles of being able to handle the basics, we typically default to choosing the content that we think everyone is supposed to talk about. By that I mean the main topics being discussed in that day’s national conversation around water-coolers at the office and dinner tables at home. Often, we irrationally feel like listeners are tuning into every single break with a clipboard checking off boxes to make sure we covered everything that needed to be covered. With time and experience we realize the flaw in that approach.
Average, to above average, on-air personalities are pretty good at identifying content that their audience can relate to and delivering it in a well packaged, concise and fluid way. Great on-air personalities, however, only choose on-air content that they can add something to. That something may be a quick story that personalizes it and makes it relatable, a local tie in to localize or regionalize it, an angle to turn it into a phone topic/social topic/web poll, relevant actuality/listener audio, or simply a funny line that makes for a clean out.
Very rarely does any of this happen accidentally. It’s pre-planned or at the very least pre-structured in a way that is very likely to lead to something brilliant happening organically. To the untrained ear great team show segments may sound like on-air chaos that somehow magically resolves itself, but it’s almost always controlled chaos that’s orchestrated to yield positive results.
This same philosophy can, and should, be translated to solo shows. Just because we’re in a room by ourselves doesn’t mean we should just wing it. We should still never crack the mic without having a good idea how we’re getting in, the meat of what we’re discussing and how we’re getting out. But, most importantly, we should ask ourselves this question. Am I adding anything to this? Nobody ever dominated a market by relaying information on the air or just hitting a buzzfeed style list. But, a word of caution. We shouldn’t force commentary on a topic because we feel an obligation to have something to say on it. We have to be brutally honest self-editors who develop the ability to identify the substantive value of our words. We won’t get it right every time, but even getting it right a few times a day is enough to move the needle in the right direction.
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