Man, I love air personalities. Working with talent is one of the most rewarding and exciting things I’ve done. As a talent coach working with hundreds of air personalities, it’s a privilege to sort through the challenges in so many formats and markets. It makes life interesting!
So today, I celebrate talent.
Here’sWhy I Love Air Personalities
They Throw Talent Fits: Talent is volatile, excitable, and over-the-top. When they throw a talent fit, it feels like the apocalypse. Energy comes from passion. It’s energizing. And it’s exhausting. Then it’s over. The outburst passes quickly, like a thunderstorm in summer. It shows they care. I’d be worried if they were passive.
They’re Like Kids Discovering Something New. When personalities find a new technique or idea, it’s better than finding a new flavor of ice cream. It’s even more fun when the light suddenly comes on and they experience a major breakthrough. They love that they “figured something out”.
Their Ego…and Fear: Many programmers try to control a talent’s ego and minimize fear. This is a mistake. They need both to win. On Wall Street, traders say stocks are driven by greed and fear. Great personalities are driven by a desire to be popular. Being on the air feeds the ego. Fear is just as powerful. In both cases, a little is healthy, but too much can lead to problems.
Enthusiasm: Air personalities are naturally curious. It’s one of the traits of being a great talent. They have a fun, youthful way of viewing the world. And it’s contagious. Jeff and Jer used to say, “You are only young once, but you can be immature forever.” That’s pretty much it, right there.
Sensitivity: Air talent is sensitive. They reveal character to listeners and fly without a net for 3-5 hours a day. And the great ones reveal things that make them vulnerable. Then they answer an email or check social media and someone is angry. Or disappointed. That’s hard. Nobody likes criticism. But when talent gets a complaint, it’s personal. That’s why they’re sensitive.
Testing Authority: I love air personalities because they challenge boundaries. A talk limit of 90 seconds is pushed to two minutes. Set it for 2 minutes and it’s 2:30. Telling them to play two songs between stop sets guarantees one. Get into the stop set by 7:55, and they’ll be in around 7:57. They don’t deliberately test the rules. It just happens.
Work Ethic: Everyone thinks radio personalities are lazy. After all, they only “work” 3-4 hours a day. Then they go home about the time everyone else fires up a second cup of coffee. But a lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into a winning radio show. Saying air talent is lazy is like saying an NFL player only works 16 days a year.
Programming: I love when air talent offers feedback on programming. It shows they’re engaged. The ideas aren’t always valid, but usually, there’s a nugget of genius that makes the station come alive.
And: The Escape: Isn’t it great how air talent can’t wait to get out of the station when the show’s over but can’t wait to come back the next day and perform? That’s contagious. I love it.
Personalities make radio worthwhile. It wouldn’t be the same without outrageous, extreme, and unpredictable characters.
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough true personalities. There are a lot of announcers that aren’t as much fun to work with. They work shifts, but don’t perform shows.