A rather simple (though not always easy) adjustment in perspective can be a breakthrough moment for personalities. Presenting a personal story with a slight tweak can be the difference between being inside vs. internal vs. personal.

Those terms may seem similar. I mean, what’s the difference between telling a personal story and talking about something happening in the lives of the cast? It doesn’t change the content selection, but the differences in how the audience hears it is profound.

Inside vs. Internal vs. Personal

So what is the difference? Let’s define the terms:

Inside: Our Andy Meadows describes this as “Inside Baseball” content. Talk breaks that get into the weeds and details of what is happening behind the scenes are a major tune-out. Inside content is when personalities “pull back the curtain” and talk about what is happening inside the show. Examples include talking about the temperature in the studio, headphones that aren’t working, a cohost that’s not paying attention, and hundreds (thousands) of other things listeners can’t really relate to. This can be occasionally effective (as in, once in a great while) but usually results in listeners feeling their time is being wasted. It’s hard to make inside references relatable.

Internal: Internal stories start from the lives and experiences of the host(s) but are presented in a way that fails to relate to the audience’s experience. These stories have great potential but are internal because it doesn’t connect to the audience externally.

Personal: This is the goal. Personality radio is an intimate art, attracting listeners to become fans because they feel they know the personalities and can relate to them. Great personal stories cause listeners to think one of three things:

  • He is just like me.
  • She is just like someone I know.
  • He/She is someone I’d like to get to know.

This is how listeners get to know you so they can become fans. But there’s an art to it, as explained in greater detail in the It’s Not About You…It’s All About You seminar.

The Difference: Inside vs. Internal vs. Personal

Here’s an example of how simply changing the perspective in a story can turn an inside or internal segment into an engaging personal story.

Mike Shepard and I are working with WBLI/Long Island’s Syke and Ally on powering up the language in personal stories by reducing the use of personal pronouns. Syke had a highly relatable observation:

I don’t go to clubs nearly as much because it’s so hard to know what to wear.

What a great storyline. It’s highly relatable. Knowing how to dress seems like a small thing, but it’s a source of stress for the CHR audience they target.

Here’s how this story could come off as inside vs. internal vs. personal:

Inside: Ally and I have this promotion coming up and I’m looking forward to it, but I’m really stressed because I don’t know how to dress to go to this club. Ally, can you help me out here?

Internal: Man, I love going out and meeting listeners and look forward to Thursday night, but the worst part is going to a club and trying to figure out how to dress.

Personal: You know the worst part about going out to the clubs? Or even a nice restaurant? It’s so hard to figure out what to wear.

See the difference?

  • Inside produces a “Who cares” response. It’s very hard (not impossible but hard) to make that relatable.
  • Internal is better but still starts with our experience rather than getting into the listener’s world.
  • Personal is all about the listener and sets up the personal story in a context that is far more engaging.


Some programmers coach talent to never share personal lives or stories. That’s a huge mistake because the audience will never form a personal bond with them.

Rogers Media VP/Product & Talent says:

Inside content is about the show hosts and their lives but doesn’t connect with, relate to, or interest me as we haven’t considered more than sharing our story. It’s personal but hasn’t found the universally appealing element. In these moments it feels more like eavesdropping on them talking rather than being part of a conversation. This works against the goal to be more desirable. Be listener conscious. Radio listeners usually listen alone. It’s personal. Being honest touches people. Be intimate.

The difference between inside vs. internal vs. personal is small. It’s nuanced. But it’s very, very important. Work on creative phrasing to be personal.

For more details, check out the workshop on how to be personal without being internal or inside here.

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