As an air personality, do you avoid topics for fear of being fired or getting in trouble with management? Or a client? How bold should you be? What risks are acceptable?

At Morning Show Boot Camp, Fred Jacobs presented the alarming finding that nearly 2/3 of personalities surveyed are concerned with offending the audience. Air talent on music stations are even more concerned (69%).

This is happening more and more. Individual or local groups are using their influence (including social media tools) to persuade stations to take disciplinary actions against talent. In many cases, the participants didn’t hear it.  Many don’t listen to the show or station. And they never will. 

It’s particularly unsettling when advertisers are petitioned to cancel media buys based on these activists’ complaints.

Performing With Fear of Being Fired

The real danger is when the fear of complaints causes policy changes or adjustments in performance. Many are diluting the impact of content just to avoid any potential fallout. And that makes radio shows less relevant.

Performing out of fear results in generic, vanilla, safe stations. It’s a big step into the Zone of Mediocrity. And that’s a dangerous place to be.

Personalities must be bold. They have to have perspective. A point of view. And that may not make everyone happy.

Strong personalities rally (and polarize) an audience. Provoking an emotion causes personalities to be more memorable. And provoking a strong emotion often inspires an opposite reaction among a few dissenters. Sadly, those voices (complaints) are resonating much louder in the corner office.


There’s a problem when personalities are more concerned about getting in trouble than winning an audience. There are obviously lines that should not be crossed. But those lines vary based on the market, station, format, and personalities.

Tracy Johnson Media Group can help you find that line, build a character profile for each cast member, and help each to perform within it. This creates an environment for powerful, not fearful, performances. Contact us for details.

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