by Tracy Johnson
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. When the secret is revealed, you’ll think, “Of course. How obvious.” Some will wonder why it’s a big deal. But for a few, this will be an “aha” moment. The light will come on. Things will fall into place. This secret is profound, yet simple. It’s important, yet taken for granted. And it is the key to generating creative content that can’t be duplicated.
But before sharing the secret, here is a story about two actual segments I heard on the same day. Both had great potential. Only one worked.
Each break was well prepared. The execution was tight. One was full of life. The other flat and uninspired.
Segment 1 is a “what should happen” dilemma. The show introduced the story of a woman that got into a physical altercation (fight) with another mom over her daughter’s role in the school play. The first mom thought her daughter was a better actor than the second woman’s and they ended up in a fistfight.
The story happened in another part of the world, and the show talked about how someone could get carried away and let it go so far. Then they turned it into a phone topic about getting into fights. A couple of listeners called with similar stories that happened to them.
It was fine, but nothing memorable.
Segment 2 is a story about the host’s 20-something daughter coaching her girl’s volleyball team. In the middle of a game, the father of a player verbally attacked the coach about playing time. At one point, he came to the bench, stood in her way, and threatened to trash her on social media and email.
The story included names, places, and details. It was filled with emotion because the host was personally invested, trying to figure out how to handle a difficult situation.
This was can’t miss/can’t turn it off/can’t stop talking about it, emotional radio.
So what was the difference? The facts were similar. Both stories were injected with an emotional touchpoint. But why was one segment powerful and memorable, while the other was just another segment on a radio show?
The difference is the secret to generating creative content that can’t be duplicated.
In his Academy Award acceptance speech for Best Director (Parasite) at the 2020 Oscars, Bong Joon-ho said:
When I was young and studying cinema, there was a saying that I carved deep into my heart. The most personal is the most creative.
He was quoting his idol, Martin Scorsese, but Bong Joon-ho used it to inspire his film.
Great performances that can’t be duplicated happen when it becomes personal.
At this point, there are three responses:
Winning personality radio doesn’t depend on the topic.
And honestly, it has little to do with facts.
Most of us probably don’t care about greed and class discrimination between a poor family and a wealthy family in South Korea. But the movie transcended the facts. It captured hearts and commanded interest by connecting in a personal way.
It has everything to do with making an emotional connection. That’s what happens when the performance is personal. And being personal is hard because most personalities protect their personality with a public persona.
Becoming a well-loved radio talent is a process, much like falling in love and finding a life partner. I call it the Romancing The Audience. Talent grows through 5 stages, the Personality Success Path.
It’s relatively easy to advance through the first two stages (Introduction and Familiarity). Stage 3 (Growth) is what you do more than how you do it. But the only talent that finds a way to reveal character and personal connections in performance will reach Stage 4 (Like) and ultimately Stage 5 (Love).
Generating personal, creative content is far more than just talking about yourself. The movie Parasite isn’t about Bong Joon-ho’s personal story, but he felt strongly about telling the story. The result was a movie filled with passion because it was personal.
It takes time for personalties to learn to perform personal content. Some never figure it out. They’re stuck in Stages 1-2 of the Personality Success Path.
Here are three keys:
Step 1: Create a Detailed Character Profile.
Personalities must know who they are and who they are not. A Character Profile is a style guide for talent based on real-life character traits. A great profile unlocks passionate performance when personalities build stories through individual traits. Channeling content through traits in the profile helps make it personal.
Step 2: Prepare Topics With Perspective.
A Character Profile helps personalities find their “voice”. Possibilities open when topics are filtered through a perspective based on individual character traits.
Step 3: Perform WIth Passion.
Learn to inject passion into the performance without an overly emotional delivery. Many personalities believe emotional performances mean crying, shouting, or ranting. Connecting emotionally doesn’t mean displaying emotion. It means performing with conviction. That can only come from finding personal connections.
So there it is. The secret is simple, isn’t it? Perform with passion.
The most personal is the most creative.
That’s the secret to create content that can’t be duplicated.
But it’s not easy. Personal performance is a process. It’s not creating breaks from a template or checklist. Each personality must find it for themselves. And when the light goes on, it’s an amazing, transformative thing. There’s nothing like it.
We can help. Tracy Johnson Media Group Develops On-Air Superstars. We help personalities find the secret to a personal performance that can’t be duplicated. Find out how we can help your show and personalities here.
There's no formula for becoming a great radio personality, but most top shows share these 7 habits. This eBook analyzes how winning personalities succeed. Use it as a road map to jump-start your career.
Is This Really Radio's Most Valuable Resource For Personalities Programmers and Promotion Managers?