by Tracy Johnson
Here’s an important question: Why do you do what you do? What is it about the radio industry that keeps you coming back for more? What drives that passion for performing and entertaining each day? For Matt and Sarah, the morning team on Jack-FM/Calgary, the answer is a little different than you might expect.
The Rogers Media show is irreverent, casual, and fun. The station itself takes a tongue-in-cheek approach.
But there are layers to the show’s personality, as demonstrated recently.
Show host Matt O’Neill is a well-known market veteran that loves Calgary. And Calgary loves Matt. Matt has a history of alcoholism and depression.
Today, helping others in their struggles is one of his passions.
For many years, he’s done this behind the scenes, but Matt has expanded his personality growth by allowing himself to be vulnerable on-air.
A few months ago, the show began a weekly segment featuring Karen Burt from the Calgary Canadian Mental Health Association. Most shows would avoid a weekly interview like this. Most shows should avoid segments like this.
But for Matt and Sarah, it provides a context for adding depth to the show’s brand.
Here’s an example:
A regular interview featuring a mental health spokesperson is not something I’d recommend for shows. But Matt and Sarah make it relevant, topical, and the guest (Karen) is well-spoken. And best of all, it highlights key character traits in Matt’s Personality Profile.
And if you wonder if the feature is worthwhile, check this out. A few weeks ago, Karen contacted the station’s program director, Troy Scott. She explained that Matt is far too humble to say it himself, but Matt has saved a life.
She also sent this note to the station.
Once a week, for the past 18 weeks, I have had the privilege of being on JACK 96.9 in the mornings with Matt O’Neill, Sarah Crosbie and Rosie the producer. (I just know him as Rosie.)
Matt is very open about his journey with alcohol and depression. And I think he is one of the bravest men I know. Because of his openness and the authenticity of the whole team, he, Sarah and Rosie have given CMHA Calgary a space to talk about mental health, ideas, coping strategies and generally share how we are REALLY doing, openly and honestly.
Today I got a message from someone who wishes to remain anonymous. He told me that he has been listening to the little mental health segment most weeks and while he has tried some of the ideas, they haven’t really worked for him. He thinks it might be because he has not been well enough to use them.
This person shared that having us talk so openly on the Morning Show, he felt like he wasn’t alone. He had reached out for some help with his Doctor. And he wanted to say thank you.
Some times working in mental health can be really, really hard. Sometimes struggling through mental health can be really, really hard.
Karen Gallagher Burt
Calgary Canadian Mental Health Association
This is another example that what happens on the radio can impact real people in real ways. Every personality has a story. Find your character’s voice and learn to tell that story boldly. It will be good for the show and the station. Maybe you won’t save a life, like Matt. But it will make a difference.
Personality is a game-changer. It is the future of our industry.
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