Having a paint set won’t make you an artist. Anyone can buy a set of wrenches, but that does not make them a mechanic. Radio personalities can learn basic skills, but that doesn’t make them winning personalities. Everyone is unique and everyone triggering a microphone should have character traits that set them apart, but successful shows share common personality traits.
Over the years, some radio personalities have become legendary and loved by millions of listeners all over the world. What makes these people so special? What traits do they possess that have helped them achieve such great success?
Personality Traits Of Winning Radio Shows
Six common traits are evident in the most successful radio personalities of this generation. These personality traits apply to all formats and styles from the most conservative hosts on a Christian format to the edgiest shock jock.
Study winners like Elvis Duran and The Bert Show and you’ll find they share each of these traits. Let’s explore the most valuable personality traits of successful radio personalities and explore why they are so important.
Charisma is an essential trait for all successful radio personalities. Great personalities have magnetic personalities that draw listeners in and just cause others to want to be around them.
What is it about Tom Hanks, Jimmy Kimmel, and Oprah Winfrey that makes audiences feel good watching and listening to them? It’s a likable good nature. Great air personalities change a room when they enter with their natural, comfortable charisma.
For example, Oprah is one of the most charismatic personalities of all time. Her warmth, humor, and empathy have made her one of the most beloved figures in the world. She has a unique ability to connect with her audience on a personal level whether or not the audience agrees with her point of view.
Charismatic people are generally upbeat, positive, and full of energy. This trait comes naturally for some, while others must work hard at it. But it can be learned. Go here for tips on how to develop this trait.
Adaptability is another important trait of successful radio personalities. Radio is a fast-paced and constantly evolving medium, especially in the last decade. Adaptable hosts are able to change with the times and keep their content fresh and relevant.
To remain relevant, be a learner. The bottom of the rating heap is littered with legacy shows that were successful for decades, but are no longer relevant. In many cases, research indicates the audience still likes, and maybe even loves, the personality. But listener behavior (listening) doesn’t match the perception because the show has not adapted to changing tastes.
The show that won in the past will not win in the future, no matter how well it is executed. The pursuit of excellence starts with a desire to constantly evolve and respond to the changing needs and interests of their audience.
Passion is a crucial trait of successful radio personalities. Delivering a great show for several hours per day every day is a grind. It’s easy to lose energy and enthusiasm, but passion drives radio personalities to strive for excellence in every segment.
Radio personalities who are passionate about their work are more likely to put in the work required to succeed. Most everyone in the radio business works hard, but great performers do it with boundless enthusiasm and energy without excuses.
One of the team shows I work with is in the process of launching a new daily feature. Everyone loves the concept and they’re working through how it will sound on the air when it debuts. But recently, one of the personalities asked,
How are we going to get the content for that feature? Who’s going to do that work?
Really? Prepping a signature feature is going to be a barrier to success? Every job has obstacles. Knock them down and invest whatever it takes to win. Passion turns into enthusiasm, an essential ingredient for a successful radio show.
The most successful radio personalities are genuine and authentic, or true to themselves and the audience. They never try to be someone they are not, but always project a larger-than-life version of themselves. Authenticity is key to building a strong connection with listeners, as people are more likely to trust and relate to someone who is real and honest.
Howard Stern is one of the most successful radio personalities of all time, and he is known for his unapologetic and often controversial approach. He has never tried to hide his opinions or his quirky flaws and listeners love him for it. They know that when they tune in to his show, they are going to get an unfiltered look at the world from his unique perspective.
Great radio shows project their honest, real-life personality into their presentation. A standup comic can play a role for a 20-minute set, performing the same routine night after night. An actor can make you believe the character for a short time. In radio, a personality creates over 240 shows a year, about 1,000 hours of original material each year. Some can fake their way through it for a while, but to sustain success over the long haul, you have to be genuine.
Get details on how to be an authentic radio host here.
A Sense Of Humor
Humor is another important trait of successful radio personalities. Very few (as in almost none) listeners tune into a radio show to be sad, angry, or stressed. They listen to escape the pressures of everyday life and get away from their problems.
Making listeners laugh (or at least smile) is the single most important thing listeners crave from hosts. Humor creates a connection with the audience and acts as a bridge to address difficult topics in an entertaining way.
Notice how many top-rated shows are built around being funny. Chances are the best shows in your market are described by fans as “funny”.
Of course, not everyone is naturally funny but everyone can learn to be funnier and create funny situations. A good sense of humor also allows radio personalities to diffuse tense situations and create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere for their listeners.
Finally, great personalities are humble, yet confident.
Humility causes them to obsess about winning the audience’s loyalty every single day. Each segment is a contest to attract and hold attention, and the best personalities never take it for granted because they know how quickly success can vanish. They compete for listener approval each day. This drives them to outwork everyone else and be more prepared than competitors.
As a result, they go into every show with the confidence that being properly prepared brings. Confidence allows radio personalities to be themselves and perform loose. They’re able to take calculated, bold risks and stretch the boundaries that prevent others from achieving higher levels of success.
Great talents share a combination of personality traits that sets them apart from the pack. By mastering these traits, radio personalities are able to thrive in any media environment. The good news is that every trait on this list can be improved with a commitment of time, effort, and intelligence.
How many of these personality traits do you have?
There’s help available:
- Get a talent coach. I know a guy that can help.
- If that’s not possible, find a mentor.
- Get self-help by joining Insiders Radio Network, which is like a Virtual Talent Coach with a rich library of tools and training resources.
- Or check out my online video course for radio personalities here.
Carefully and honestly evaluate how you’re doing in each area. Then start working on your Personality Success Path by mastering each of these personality traits today. Your career hangs in the balance.
Tracy Johnson’s Audience Magnet Training Course
Build a 5-Star Personality Brand eBook
Building a Personality Profile Step By Step
Howard Stern: King of All Interviewers
Radio Shows and The Overnight Success Myth