Most clients hire a talent coach because they have a problem. Often it’s a lack of understanding or expertise. Sometimes it’s a lack of talent. Occasionally, we run into casting or role issues. Or a personality is good, but the show lacks sizzle. And once in a while, the show is performing at a very high level, but it doesn’t stand out. It’s technically perfect, but it’s flat. Someone has managed to polish the entertainment out.
I have a friend who still drives a 1989 Firebird with almost 300,000 miles on it. He’ll never give it up. Ever. It’s not his only car. He has a new one, too, and that new car smell is fantastic. He loves new features and gadgets in the new car, but the Firebird is comfortable. And he drives it more than the new one, even though the 30-year-old car is covered with scrapes and scuffs.
You probably have a favorite shirt to wear around the house. It’s more comfortable than a brand new outfit. And who doesn’t have a chair or sofa that’s a little worn, but has conformed exactly to your body? It’s not showroom perfect, but it’s so much better than a new, stiff sofa that hasn’t been broken in. It’s so much better than a brand new, not-yet-broken-in leather couch.
Radio shows are like that, too. Personality radio is messy and great shows are flawed. Yet many broadcasters seek perfection. In doing so, we polish the entertainment out of the show.
How Personalities Polish The Entertainment Out
Many years ago, I saw an interview with Michael J. Foxx. He was asked what made him so likable as a performer. He gave a very simple answer. He said he stopped trying to be perfect and put an emphasis on being the best he could be. His exact quote:
Don’t strive for perfection. That’s in God’s hands. We’ll never achieve it. But we can work hard every day for excellence.
That’s a profound statement for radio performers.
Improving performance is important. We should never accept being sloppy. And we should pay attention to detail. Don’t try to be flawed. But many shows that are mechanically excellent are not relatable.
There are many causes.
- Stressing format execution over entertainment value.
- Over-emphasis on a structure over impact.
- Working to avoid mistakes instead of creating opportunities.
The list goes on and on. And that’s the situation I found with my new client. The show is excellent in most areas:
- It’s well cast with interesting, diverse personalities.
- They execute quality features with precision.
- They’re good at teasing and promoting.
- Airchecks are happening regularly.
- All are committed to success and have no internal problems.
- The preparation process is excellent, with all cast members actively engaged.
- They’re consistent every day, hour, and break.
It’s hard to find problems without nitpicking. Could we polish it even more? Sure, there’s always a way to fine-tune. But we’d just be shining something that’s already pretty bright. This show is doing nothing wrong but it has little impact.
Meanwhile, competitors are flawed but rated higher. And the personalities generate more passion. There are dings and cuts and gouges.
It sounds odd coming from a consultant or talent coach, but we need to make this show more “lived in”. Maybe we should “spill something on it”. Let that stain give it some character by allowing flawed character quirks to shine through.
This show is going to be wildly successful as long as the personalities are willing to be vulnerable and embrace their quirks.
It’s not logical, is it? It seems that being better would produce success. And if we’re not successful, we need to be better. But listener preferences are emotional, not logical.
We don’t name a new car. We name a favorite car. The one we have an illogical connection with. The kind of car we can’t imagine giving up. Ever. For any price. Even if it drinks oil.