Barriers and obstacles are common hurdles that people face in their careers, and radio personalities are no exception. Every personality thinks they need something that they don’t currently have and often those obstacles become barriers.

This show needs a producer. That one wants a phone screener. If only we had a really funny cohost to add to the cast. And it sure would be nice to get another editing station in the studio. Then we could win.

This isn’t unique. Every rock star wants another instrument, each carpenter needs a new saw, and wouldn’t every athlete want new gear?

I think every show should have a producer. A phone screener is a near-necessity for shows that engage listeners on the phones. And yeah, every show that has the latest technology has an advantage. But the reality is that most shows aren’t going to have those things.

Not having them is an obstacle. Don’t let it become a barrier.

Obstacles and Barriers

The two terms may seem similar, but they actually refer to different challenges that radio personalities encounter. Barriers are restrictions within a profession that prevent individuals from progressing, no matter how hard you try to work around them. These barriers can be internal or external.

Obstacles are usually real challenges but are often more annoying than restrictive. Obstacles are usually external but they become more of a problem because personalities allow these relatively small issues to seem more restrictive.

It’s easy to become frustrated or annoyed at obstacles, but step back and objectively evaluate the situation. You can get past obstacles with creativity, persistence, and a positive attitude, even if it seems overwhelming at first.

Examples of Obstacles

Here are some examples of real-life obstacles clients have recently faced:

  • A show is launching a new feature that requires daily curation and creativity. The show consists of a host and two cohorts. The new feature could change the trajectory of the show. The host says, “We can’t possibly do this without a producer to prepare the content each day”. That’s an obstacle. Get over it and do the work!
  • Another show runs an interactive relationship feature each morning, relying on listener input. There’s a solo morning host and a producer/phone screener with limited on-air presence. Yet the studio equipment never works right and it’s a coin flip as to whether a caller will be on the air or not. That’s a barrier.
  • This show has grown from trailing middays and afternoons to being the highest-rated time slot on the station. They’re performing at a very high level as they continue to add new features and promotions. It’s a two-person show doing the work of 4-5 people. Reaching the next level without a producer is virtually impossible. That’s a barrier.
  • And finally, a show is struggling to become more contemporary and relevant. There are three people on the show: A host, a cohost, and a producer. We’re trying to add a single feature that could become the One Thing that puts them on the map to becoming relevant. The show “can’t do it because we don’t have the right board op”. That’s an obstacle that can easily be worked around.


Broadcasters should support personalities with the tools needed to win, but they sometimes (often) don’t. Barriers and obstacles can often become interchangeable.

Don’t let it get you down. You can overcome obstacles. Barriers are different. Barriers are things that are in your way that truly prevent you from winning. If you can’t take phone calls because the system doesn’t work, yeah, that’s a barrier.

Ryan Seacrest, Elvis Duran, and The Bert Show all have a list of things they don’t have that prevent them from being the best they can be. But they never use it as an excuse.

Don’t mistake obstacles for barriers. They’re not the same. Excuses won’t get you anywhere. Most of the things you think you need are just obstacles. As a carpenter once told me, it’s a poor craftsman that blames his tools.

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