Programmers commonly tell air personalities to pick up the energy. So they talk faster, louder, and play a music bed behind talk breaks. That’s placing the emphasis on the wrong syllable. Those things have nothing to do with increasing energy. The key is to add energy to language.

Using powerful language increases the energy more than any vocal technique. Which of the following headlines is more compelling:

Details On a Popular New Diet


Lose 15 Pounds This Month With This Groundbreaking Diet

That’s obvious, right? The same principle applies to talk breaks, too.

How To Add Energy To Language

Recently, I led a client brainstorming session for a couple of segments. Here are two phone topics they started with:

  • What incident happened in your high school that everyone talked about?
  • What did your kid do to embarrass you in public?

Both are fine topics but we needed to add energy to language. . I call it turning up the volume. Here’s what we came up with:

  • What scandal rocked your high school?
  • What did your kid do that you thought would ruin your life?

Interestingly, the show used those words in the brainstorming session but they hadn’t planned to use those action words on the air. All they needed was to turn it up rather than toning it down!

The Result

Adding energy is more than hyperbole or exaggeration. It’s the difference between ordinary content and memorable moments. Research shows most radio shows are generally liked but few are loved. Programmers scan the results and breathe a sigh of relief when respondents say “yes” to “Did you like what you heard?” But there’s a better measure of success.

Agreeing that “I like what I heard” is not the same as a listener telling someone, “Did you hear what they did?”

Passion follows those who excite listeners by adding energy. Imagine responses to the examples above.

Question: Did you like the calls about people who had strange incidents at their high schools?

  • The original question probably would have been, “Yes. It was entertaining.”
  • But the energized question: “OMG. You should have heard it! They told stories about scandals in high school all morning.”

Question: Did you like it when they had callers about how kids embarrass parents in public?

  • The first version: “Yes. It reminded me of my kids.”
  • The second: “I can’t believe the story from the woman who called (show) about how her kid ruined her life!”


Energy is contagious. It transfers from personalities to listeners. Just turn up the volume on ordinary topics. Once in motion, this can become a habit that changes how listeners hear the show.

Add energy to language. Turn it up!

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