Most on-air talent that have ever cracked a mic on a music station have one goal, to out-perform the music. They may not ever verbalize that goal, or even be cognizant of it, but the ambition is there none-the-less. We all want to get to the point where the masses are so intrigued by what we’re about to say that they tune in just for us, and even sit through a couple of songs they don’t know, or like, to hear more from us.
Unfortunately, that’s a very high bar and few things are more damaging than an on-air personality who thinks they are there when they are not. Getting to the point of out-performing the tunes takes a unique combination of confidence and humility that’s rarely naturally occurring and typically takes years of coaching and experience to correctly balance.
Over the years I’ve only worked with, coached, or known a handful that have reached this elite level. Here are a few things they ALL had in common.
- They were all coachable. Regardless of how long they had been on air they welcomed feedback and responded to it. Granted some of them took longer than others to win over, but ultimately they all realized that everyone needs a coach. In this business we have to constantly improve to stay ahead of the competition and that’s a lot easier with a little help.
- They had perfected the show prep process. The amount of show prep and coordination it takes to do a market leading show can be overwhelming. That’s why the greats spend as much time, or more, working on their off-air process as they do their on-air, so over time it becomes manageable. When we get to that point we realize a lot of our life is prep and we recognize things we can use, exaggerate, distort or embellish in the moment as its happening. That way the day of we’ve already got a lot of our grid filled in.
- They valued the listener’s time. Big name radio personalities often get the knock of being people with huge egos who love the sound of their own voice. But, in reality the really good ones don’t pontificate, they don’t bloviate and most importantly, they strive to never waste a listener’s time. When necessary, they’re also adept at getting out of the way of co-hosts, celebrity guests and callers, while slyly guiding them along.
- They were great self-editors. When I write an article for one of the trades I have the luxury of being wordy, which I tend to love too much, because I know there’s an editor on the other end who’s going to pair it down and make me sound good. However, with my blog, I’m on my own, left to my own devices to determine how many words I can hold your attention for. Similarly, on air, we don’t have that luxury. Our talent coaches, consultants and Program Directors can give us after the fact advice on what to weed out, but in the moment its up to us to be our own self editors.
- They took the time to get incredibly in tune with their audience. There’s no other way to do this than by spending immense amounts of time interacting with listeners on-site, on the phone and online. It’s not a quick process and one of the many reasons we should always ease into it when we’re new to a market or format. Once we’ve put in the time though, we get really good at accurately determining what kind of content the listeners will be interested in, passionate about or at the very least, open to.
What do you think, comment below with your thoughts or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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