Winning Features and How To Use Them
by Tracy Johnson
It’s the fifth letter of the alphabet. And in radio, it’s the most important one. “E” is for the 3 E’s of personality radio.
There’s not enough show biz in radio. We’re too calculated. Too precise. Too literal. There’s an alarming lack of imagination and fun. We need a serious injection of the three E’s.
This is a lot different than telling a lie, though many of you will reject the idea because you consider it dishonest. This concept means to put some sizzle into your show by painting a picture with words.
The three E’s are basic storytelling. The Wizard of Ads, Roy Williams, demonstrates how important the 3 E’s are to entertainers:
Ninety percent of all the books published each year are non-fiction. But the fiction books – the 10 percent – comprise 90 percent of all book sales.
Fictional characters in movies, novels and TV shows seem real even when we know they are not. We know fiction to be untrue, yet we treat it for a time as if it were true. We are simultaneously naïve, believing what we are told, and savvy, aware of the deception.
For air personalities, executing great stories on the air is a bit different, of course. Each story must be consistent with your character profile. And, it has to be authentically believable. From there, use your imagination to make it stand out and be uniquely special!
Each of the three E’s has a place in your personality profile.
Exaggeration is telling a story with flavor. Enhancing the content with rich details, taking an angle that others wouldn’t.
Embellishment is building interest by enhancing the story with colorful language and descriptions. Don’t be afraid to take creative license.
Enhance is adding action words, immediacy and “now” to your language. Speak actively, with flair.
Adding color and sizzle to your show isn’t just hyping your content, but you can add some flair to every break.
Here are a few simple examples of how to do it:
It’s not “come find the (call letters) tent”. Make it, “Join us at the mobile broadcast center” or “Mobile Unit #17”.
It’s not “from the (call letters) studios”. Z100/New York broadcast from a little studio in New Jersey, but on the air they were “Live from the top of the top of the Empire State Building”.
At one of my stations in San Diego, we went the other extreme with a self-deprecating position our studio as being from “a dumpy little building in Kearny Mesa”. Cal & Company on 89X in Windsor describes his show as broadcasting from “The Panic Room”.
You could talk about how the band that played in your city last night loves to play ping-pong backstage to relax. That’s mildly interesting trivia. But it’s more exciting to sound like you were there, and describe the scene when (band member) beat (band member), then went out and nailed it on-stage!
Don’t give away just cash. Give away possibilities. Many years ago, Jack McCoy created the greatest radio promotion of all time. The Last Contest sounded larger than life. Yes, it’s dated and you can’t steal it and do it today, but you can be inspired by it:
A client station gave away a pair of tickets to every sporting event in the city for a year. Great prize, right? Larger than life. And very little response. Then they gave away center-court tickets on the floor to an NBA game. Against the Lakers. Their promos painted a picture, so you could imagine yourself at the game. They attracted more than four times the response.
The Three E’s are a critical part of the success of air talent. If you’re a storyteller, learn it. Then practice them until you master them.
Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.
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