Radio Personality Tips on Likability From Newspaper Death Notices

Radio Personality Tips on Likability From Newspaper Death Notices

by Tracy Johnson

One of the most important traits of winning radio personalities is to develop a genuine, likable nature. Some are born with it. Others have to learn it. But regardless, a likable good nature is an essential ingredient for success. And here’s a most unlikely source: Newspaper death notices.

The Toronto Globe and Mail featured an article by Tamara Vukusic called Life Hacks from The Death Notices. It’s clever, well written, and includes lessons gleaned from an unlikely source. Most of them apply to radio personalities.

Tips To Be More Likable From Newspaper Death Notices

The origin of Tamara’s article came when she started to wonder why she spent so much time reading this section of the paper. She reads summaries of the lives of people she has never met and knows nothing about. So why the fascination with death notices?

She identified 10 reasons, each punctuated with a quote. And there’s a lesson for personalities in every main point.

Laugh At Yourself

A favorite:

If you are reading this, I have passed my “best before” date.

The obituary was autobiographical, so the deceased could laugh at herself from beyond.

The lesson: Self-deprecating humor is contagious and genuinely likable. Don’t take yourself too seriously. 

Have Fun

They must have called one hell of a party in heaven for Lorna to decide to leave us on Sunday.

The lesson: Be up for anything, and take risks. That’s where the fun and interesting experiences are. And that’s what leads to great stories and content on-air.

Have a Heart

She provided shelter to her children’s friends who were alone and lost in the world

The lesson: Building a successful brand over time demands personalities show character depth. A manager once told me that before we can do well, we must first do good. What difference are you making in your community?

Tell Stories That Define Who You Are

She went to the symphony in the pouring rain on a standing-room only ticket. This anecdote is so evocative of her adventurous spirit, joyousness in the most most inclement of weather and passion for music

The lesson: Listeners are attracted by things you do. Those things matter. But they fall in love with who you are. Design stories, segments, and features that show your character.

Strut Your Stuff

She adored books on Charlemagne as well as Peanuts cartoons. She could recite lines from Shakespeare and Mel Brooks

The lesson: A good character brand profile has many layers that are revealed over time. Let your freak flag fly, even if some traits seem to be incompatible or inconsistent with others. 

Share Your Secrets

She had one unrealized dream – to be a journalist. On a recent move, her children discovered dozens of notebooks full of quotes and her thoughts on issues at the time.

The lesson: Intimate details reveal depth in personality. Find ways to share these traits by allowing yourself to be vulnerable and bold.

Be Imperfect

She was a constant source of giddy, spontaneous humour to all who knew her, and yet she could not tell a conventional joke to save her life. That was fine, because her frequent failed attempts at joke-telling were vastly funnier than the jokes she was trying to tell. She wrote everything down and then lost track of her notes.

The lesson: Quirks and imperfections are at the heart of relatability. In building Character Profiles for radio personalities, this is the area we focus on most.


Personalities that apply each of these lessons will be successful. It’s almost impossible to fail. If you need help developing an on-air personality brand, we can help.

You might also like:  Get Rid of Second Guessing and Doubt With This Inspiration From Steve Martin


Personality Traits of Winning Air Talent

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