The George Costanza Guide to Personality Radio

The George Costanza Guide to Personality Radio

by Tracy Johnson

Seinfeld reruns never get old. They are classics and rich with lessons in character development, show preparation and story structure for radio personalities and programmers. And good old George Costanza. Seinfeld’s best friend is one of the most memorable and popular characters in television history. And there are many lessons radio personalities can learn from George!

George Costanza Lesson #1: The Pay Off

Remember the episode when George learned the secret to his success was to “end on a high note”? In meetings, in relationships, on the phone, and in any situation that involved making an impression on others, George figured out that his biggest problem was a tendency to keep talking after he made an impact.

Here’s when George learned to take the first exit and get out on a high note:

No matter how good it a break might be, when the story stops moving forward, listeners move on. Every break must have a clear direction. I call it the path to payoff

And when we reach the Pay Off, it’s time to get out.

George may have taken it a bit too literally. In radio, there are times the best moment may be the second exit. But one thing is for certain: It’s far better to get out a bit too soon than too late. Many great segments are ruined when personalities don’t know when to get out.

Each talent must develop an internal clock that acts as the conscience of the listener.

Self-Deprecating And Vulnerable

Then there was the time when George Costanza recognized that everything he tried turned out poorly. He felt like a loser in life and so he decides boldly, “I’m going to do the opposite of everything I’d normally do.”

His strategy was to be anti-George.

For example, in the diner he and Jerry go to all the time, he spies an attractive woman he would probably have told lies to in order to win her over. He would have said he was an architect.

But in the new approach, he does the opposite.

He tells her his name is George, he’s a balding, middle-aged man who lives with his parents. It worked.

Many radio personalities overthink their performance. They worry about execution or making sure every detail is perfect. The more they obsess about it, the worse it gets. The fun comes out of the show. There’s a time and place for self-analysis and critique.

But be vulnerable about quirks and insecurities. Showing traits that are “just like me” is uniquely relatable and charming.

Be The Personality You Want To Be

The classic episode of George trying to impress his girlfriend by pretending to be a marine biologist is hilarious. But the George Costanza radio lesson: George wants to be a better, more interesting man. And he owns his lie!

When building a Character Profile, we identify the most likable traits of each personality’s real life. Then build a brand based on who they are off the air. But it’s not a literal representation. The character brand is the best possible version of the talent. Then, we work to perform that completed character profile. Sometimes this is hard for a personality. For them, we encourage them to Fake It Til You Make It.


It kind of makes you miss the old Seinfeld episodes, doesn’t it? These are just three classic George Costanza moments that can be applied to radio performers. To review:

  • Find the exit, and be alert to take it. End on a high note.
  • Self-deprecating humor, and being vulnerable, is highly relatable.
  • Be the personality you want to be. Perform to the best possible you.

Take the exit. It’s much better to end on a high note!


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