A Cure For The Out-Of-Control Virus: IMEWEUS

A Cure For The Out-Of-Control Virus: IMEWEUS

by Tracy Johnson

There’s a virus that has spread through radio stations and personality shows all over the world. Left untreated, it threatens to destroy. It starts slowly. We don’t even notice it’s there. Gradually, day by day, break by break, it spreads. It’s called IMEWEUS.

Eventually, symptoms emerge. Time spent listening goes down. Research indicates fewer “favorites.”


The disease is IMEWEUS, a condition of self-absorbed chatter that’s all about us. IMEWEUS spreads with use of the words “I,” “Me,” “We” and “Us.”

Air personalities push listeners away from their show when it sounds like it’s about us, not them.

Listen to your show carefully, and identify how often your content is presented from your perspective. It will surprise you. Then, resolve to break the habit.

IMEWEUS Symptoms

You’ll hear a lot of symptoms for this horrendous, debilitating virus. Here are a couple of the most common:

Saying “I think that…” or “It seems to me that…”. Just say it.

Don’t qualify a powerful statement or opinion by adding “I…” to it. If you just say it, they recognize it’s your thought. This adds extra words, weakens the power of the statement and turn the spotlight on you.

Using words like “We’ve got your…” or “We want to send you to…”.

You’re not doing them a favor. You’re appealing to their desires. Listeners don’t want to experience of your generosity any more than you want to buy a car to experience the dealership’s offer. Replace “We have your” language with “Where you get”.

3-Step Cure For IMEWEUS

The good news is that IMEWEUS can be cured. It takes discipline and attention, but you can do it.

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If you have an IMEWEUS problem, fix it with these three steps:

Set a goal that once in each show you avoid saying the words: “I, Me, We or Us.” This requires concentration and adjustments. It’s hard. You’ll be shocked how often you’re doing it. Then, do it one an hour. Then once every 30 minutes. Then, try it for a full show without using those words.

Air Check yourself twice a week. Listen intently to a full hour and identify those times you could be more relatable. Don’t beat yourself up, just be aware. This puts it in your subconscious, and will soon cause you to be much more alert for it. This is muscle memory for your show.

Transcribe a break once a week. Print the text. Then re-write it to edit I, Me, We and Us out. Inject the break with more power. More energy. And more relatable YOU.

You can also practice it in everyday life. It’ll make a big difference in personal relationships. You’ll be more likable, more relatable, more fun to be around and more colorful. You’ll become a conversation starter!

A Real-Life Example

Curing IMEWEUS can be difficult, but you can do it.

Here’s how we reconstructed a break with a client to generate an external, not internal focus:

Here’s the original internally focused break:

Last night, my fiancee and I were looking for a place we could have dinner…we tried several restaurants, and couldn’t get a reservation, or it just didn’t sound good to us. Well, after about 20 minutes, I’m going crazy…and just want to eat, already. But I persevered, because you know how she gets…So finally we found this new sushi place let me tell you, we have a new favorite entree…and if you had asked me before we went there, I would have told you I’d NEVER have even THOUGHT about trying it…but I love it. It’s delicious.

Not bad content, and it may even be a great story, but it’s self-absorbed and listener interest is only going to go so far. And because it has nothing to do with the listener experience, she may mentally check out – or even physically tune out. It’s internal.

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But we can fix this content just by taking the same story and restructuring it to focus on the audience as an entry point:

How great is it when you discover a new food that you once thought was disgusting….but it’s awesome? You know, that food that you THINK you hate, but you never really tried it…then it turns out that you hate yourself because you missed out on all those years of deliciousness? Last night, we were…


Curing IMEWEUS takes time. It takes a different approach to presenting content. This is critical to the success of your show. It’s not hard to do, it just takes discipline.

It’s as simple as changing your approach. Do you have IMEWEUS? Probably, at least to some extent. Cure it before your show is on life support. It’ll transform your personality.

Author: Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.

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