7 Weeks to Fix 7 Deadly Sins of Radio Personalities

7 Weeks to Fix 7 Deadly Sins of Radio Personalities

by Tracy Johnson

Radio personalities are in an awkward position. Many get little feedback or coaching. Most have been on their own for several months as broadcasters adjust schedules for social distancing. This summer, my most-asked question from air personalities is how to advance on their Personality Success Path with little or no direction. But every personality can improve by addressing the 7 Deadly Sins of Radio Personalities.

Some shows are guilty of all 7 of these common mistakes. Most commit several on a regular basis. Almost everyone has a problem with at least one or two.

The good news is that these sins can be overcome by understanding the problem and focusing on creating new habits to overcome them. Isolate one problem at a time and even shows committing all 7 Deadly Sins can usually overcome them in just 7 weeks.

To proceed:

  1. Identify which areas need attention.
  2. Make a list from easiest to fix to most difficult.
  3. Start with the easiest. Overcome it. Hopefully, one week of intense focus will do the trick.
  4. Move on to the next item on the list.

Don’t be frustrated if it takes longer than a week. That’s okay. It’s more important to fix it before moving on to another problem area.

7 Deadly Sins: Gluttony

The first deadly sin is gluttony. Even with pizza and sleep, too much of anything is not good for you. Seriously. Even pizza.

Gluttony is a problem when air personalities try to do too many things on-air.

Common examples:

  • Trying to cram too many topics on the air. A show identifies the right topics, but only mentions it once and then moves on. It is far better to focus on fewer topics, do them more often, and pour more time into preparing them to be effective.
  • Locked-in features. Some shows jump from one branded feature to the next. yet none of the features cut through because they are: a) Not very good, b) Poorly developed, c) Not on the air frequently enough to get traction, or d) All of the above. The best advice is to identify the most important, popular feature and specialize in it until it’s famous!
  • Including too much information in a segment. Great stories come from colorful details the paint a picture, but many personalities fill a break with facts or data points and not enough show-biz!

Overcome this sin by conducting a full audit of the show using Zero-Based Programming. Prune the weak material and focus more attention on the hits. Strip it down. The result will be a much cleaner show that is easier to execute and more fun to perform.


Being bored isn’t a sin, but causing listeners to be bored is a deadly sin. And when do listeners become bored? Usually when radio personalities are bored.

Boredom happens when mundane, everyday tasks make the job seem less like entertainment, and more like a factory job:

  • Repeating the same liner cards every day, every hour.
  • Playing the same songs by the same artists you’ve heard a million times.
  • Reading the same commercials day after day.

Over time, it affects energy, attitude, and enjoyment. But listeners don’t care. They come for a show, and your job is to take them away from their boring routine.

Here’s how to tell if being bored is a problem:

  • Every break starts to sound the same. You fall into patterns and routines.
  • Watching the clock to count down to the end of the show or counting how many breaks until it’s over.
  • Content is generic and sounds like any other show could perform it.
  • Segments stall and stories don’t move forward.
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Take responsibility for having a great attitude. It’s a choice. Find a technique that puts you in a good mood every day. Maybe it’s music. Or meditation. Or exercise. Or simply to put aside distractions and problems and decide to be happy during the show.

Sometimes overcoming boredom is hard work, but it’s an important part of preventing listener boredom. To fix it, get out of your routine.


Ego gone wild may be the most common of the 7 Deadly Sins.

Great performers need healthy self-confidence, a swagger. The best performers are a bit cocky.

But when it turns into a show that is self-absorbed or condescending, there’s a problem.

Vanity is a sneaky sin that almost every personality must fight. Here are signs that it may be a problem:

  • The hook starts with you, not with the listener.
  • Failing to Listen and Respond naturally to partners or callers because you’re thinking about what you’re going to say.
  • Talking about what happens in the studio.
  • Personalities talking on top of one another.

Balancing a healthy ego with humility is delicate.

The remedy: Try to understand and master the concept of It’s Not About You…it’s All About You to start on the road to recovery. If it’s really bad, work on performing without pronouns to overcome the IMEWEUS performance virus.


This is a little more detailed and theoretical. If it’s one of the problems in your show, it’s probably best to save this for last. It takes a little longer to fix.

The relationship with listeners is critical. 7 of 10 listeners say they consider a favorite personality to be “like me”. Finding your voice, character, and perspective is a key step to success. It’s one of the first things we do when working with new shows.

Integrity and authenticity are essential to air personalities. To create a brand that attracts and leads passionate fans, it’s important to know what that character brand represents. That’s why I recommend a detailed personality brand profile.

With a profile in place, it’s much easier to build a fan base. Performing inside the boundaries in the profile will free talent from the sin of deceit.

To build a character profile, watch my seminar on-demand here. Or if you’re a member of Insiders Radio Network, step-by-step instruction videos are available here.

Identify your personality brand, then build every piece of content to enhance it.


Studies show a majority of Americans have interacted with radio personalities at some point during their lifetimes.

If that is accurate, we are doing a lousy job converting opportunities into TSL, since average listening occasions continue to decline.

Most personalities are limited in public appearances for now, but that won’t last forever. When possible, here’s how to overcome this Deadly Sin:

  • Volunteer for station appearances that impact large audiences, even if there is no talent fee.
  • Interact with listeners. Don’t hide in the van, tent, or back room.
  • Plan for listeners to have something to do at appearances.
  • Respond to listeners by social media, phone, and text.

In the meantime, work to make more personal contact with as many listeners as possible. Here’s a simple way to reach a large number of listeners that most shows can do.

Then, commit to a plan to connect with the audience in public and on multiple touchpoints as part of a daily and weekly routine.


This is a silent, hidden sin because it’s not obvious.

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The sin of omission is not doing things that don’t really need to be done but could.

Missed opportunities are a major problem.

Here’s how to avoid the sin of omission:

Fix this problem by identifying areas that could improve. Little things mean a lot. Fix those areas and take advantage of every opportunity.

Sloth (Laziness)

This is the greatest sin of all because it feeds the other sins.

Lazy shows are sloppy shows, and sloppy shows never reach their potential. That should be really hard to live with. but many accept it.

Today, most broadcasters have multiple responsibilities. Soon, they start cutting corners and compromising quality. We focus on things that must be done – and ignore important things that are crucial to being an effective communicator.

The result is a show that sounds okay but not special. It’s good enough to get but listeners aren’t excited.

Every element on the air should have full, undivided attention. Stop answering personal emails, checking posts on social media, texting your wife, setting up a tee-time, watching a YouTube video, and ordering on Amazon during the show.

Meanwhile, the phone rings on and on. And nobody is fully engaged in the show.

Don’t be lazy. How can you invest energy to make the show sizzle? Maybe you could:

  • Commit to a defined Show Prep plan like this one.
  • Envision the show-and each break-by meeting 30 minutes before going on the air.
  • Never leave for the day without evaluating at least some aspect of that day’s performance.


Even personalities guilty of all  7  Deadly Sins can fix the problems in 7 weeks. Focus attention on one sin per week. In seven weeks or less, you should be healed.  Start with one or two sins that are easiest to overcome. Break it down into small, actionable steps, then go to work with a laser focus.

Then move on to the next thing.

And let me know how I can help.


7 Deadly Sins of Radio Personalities

Helping Air Checkers Learn to Air Check

7 Deadly Sins of Radio Personalities ebook

Radio Personality Success Path: The Five Stages of Growth

Personality Success Path Seminar on Demand

Zero-Based Programming

Take The Audience To Disneyland

Why You Should Eliminate Personal Pronouns

A Cure For the IMEWEUS Virus

Build a 5-Star Personality Brand Seminar on Demand

My Audience Magnet Course


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