Fitting the Format By Andy Meadows

Great on-air personalities can work and succeed on multiple radio formats, regardless of how different their age, lifestyle or personal interests are from the core demo of that format. However, there’s one big caveat to that. It requires coaching and ONLY works if they are willing to adjust their presentation, content selection and their on-air persona accordingly. An inability or unwillingness to do that will pigeon-hole any personality, regardless of their talent level, to only working in one or two formats and drastically reduce their available options when looking for their next gig. Here are a few things to remember when trying to fit a personality into a format that’s outside of their wheelhouse. To keep the blog brief this is a simplified, condensed version of a long process. If you’d like to schedule a meeting I can dive a little deeper.

  1. Identify the demo. I know that sounds obvious, but it’s often where things break down. It’s shocking how many on-air personalities there are that misidentify the target demo for the station they’ve worked on for years when I ask about it. Sometimes that’s because they’ve gotten conflicting information from management and sometimes it’s because they have a preconceived notion for what their particular format targets that’s no longer true. Fitting any format starts with identifying the station’s target demo.

  2. Narrow the demo. Knowing the broader demographic of a station is better than nothing, but it’s not enough when we’re on-air. That applies to both the target age and gender. For example lets say a station defines their demo as 25-54 60% female. If our on-air personalities are creating daily content to try and appeal to both a 25-year-old male and a 54-year-old female at the same time it generally leads them to appeal to neither.  In that example it would be better to narrow the demo and try to appeal to say a 40-year-old female. Beyond that we want to further narrow the demo by brainstorming and then deciding on a handful of personality traits for that 40-year-old female taking into account our regional and local differences within our market. Is she married or unmarried, where does she hang out, what shows does she watch, hobbies she has, etc. From that we can create a personality profile for that 40-year-old female that we share with anyone tasked with creating content on the station’s behalf.

  3. Use that personality profile as a content filter. Now that we’ve narrowed our demo and created a personality profile we should use that as our content filter for everything we create. That goes for on-air content selections, benchmarks, features, contests, promos, imaging, social media posts, web posts and beyond. Asking ourselves, ‘would this appeal to the personality profile we created?’ will help us make more informed decisions on what to say yes to and what to pass on. Narrowly targeting a personality profile with our content WILL NOT lead to ONLY appealing to that one specific type of listener. That’s because it forces us to be strategic and purposeful with every decision to attract that core target, which happens to be centered within our demographic and much more likely to bleed over above and below their age and across genders. Plus, listeners knowing what they’re going to get when they tune in has a broad appeal. 

  4. Adjust our presentation accordingly. If on-air talent have an ‘I am who I am’ approach they can only work in formats where they are a natural fit. Conversely, on-air personalities willing to adjust everything from their delivery and word selection to what parts of their personality to turn up and turn down, can fit on virtually any format and station.

What do you think? How have you fit a square peg into a round hole before to fit on a format that surprised yourself or others? Or, how have you coached or managed someone to do the same? When hasn’t it worked and why? Comment below or email me at 

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