by Tracy Johnson
Dynamic radio personalities are the key to radio’s future. But not all talent is created equal. You don’t need personalities with a nice voice or someone that executes the format with precision. Today’s broadcasters should be on the hunt for superstar radio talent with the power to transform the station by leading a fan base.
Finding superstar radio talent is hard. You have to dig deeper. When searching, it helps to know what to look for.
Everyone knows it’s important to be different. But finding someone different is pretty easy. There are a lot of different, weird people that cause the public to run away. Too many times, I come across personalities that are just trying to “get their freak on”, thinking that being different is enough. It’s true that superstar radio talent is willing to be weird.
But personalities that rise to the top of their profession develop a unique sense of likable, compelling qualities that attract fans that comes from embracing their quirks and flaws.
It’s a gift, in a way. You probably know people in everyday life that have the gift. They’re the ones who change the room when they enter. They command attention. When they take part in a conversation, everyone is interested. They’re sincerely fun to be around. They’re comfortable with who they are and who they’re not.
It comes naturally for some. For others, it’s nearly impossible. You probably also know folks who actually say interesting things, but are easy to ignore. They get drowned out in conversations.
Often, the exact qualities of a dynamic personality are hard to identify. There’s just something about them that’s interesting-or not.
So what is it that makes some people interesting, compelling and likable? Here are some of the qualities:
Interesting, likable people are almost always opinionated, but don’t insist that you agree with them. They don’t force it on you.
You know where they stand, but even if you don’t agree, you’re not angry with them. When hiring an air personality, it’s pretty easy to find out if they have this trait just by playing a fast-paced game called Rapid Fire.
Fire off topics about current events, one right after another and ask them to comment on each with the first thing that comes to mind. Interesting people will have a fast response with a distinct point of view, even if they haven’t had time to prepare. Don’t worry about having a well-formed response. Listen to see if they have a perspective.
Superstar radio talent is even interesting when saying “I don’t know or care anything about it”. This game is not about knowledge of the topic. It’s about having something to say and owning their point of view.
Creative personalities have a story for most every conversation. Most of those stories come from their lives and experiences. In telling those stories, they reveal character traits with confidence.
On vacation in Egypt, my wife and I met a couple from Canada. David and Iris were both interesting, but Iris had a charming way to tell stories about her life in the most entertaining ways.
Within minutes, we knew that she had a baby before age 20, was almost sold into sex trafficking in Singapore in her late 20s, has been married and divorced twice and once turned down an offer of 5 camels to sleep with a man in Morocco.
She didn’t necessarily have a gift for storytelling, but each story had my wife and I hanging on every word to hear more. She was an interesting person because she didn’t hold back. Iris was willing to be open, vulnerable and honest. Her authentic character led to great stories.
Most interesting people aren’t locked in their mom’s basement playing Minecraft six hours a day. They have a life, are active and involved in outside activities. They’re curious to experience new things, which leads to new stories. And they’re constantly alert to stories that happen.
Find out what personality prospects like to do, how they spend their time, their hobbies and what they do on weekends.
Having a great radio show is a demanding gig. After a long day on the air and preparing for the next day, the last thing some personalities want is to interact with people. But that’s where rich life experiences come from. And that can be a key to truly unique stories that drive content and result in material for storytelling.
A stand up comic once told me there are two types of comedians. One says funny things. The other says things funny. It’s better to say things funny because that’s a sustainable personality trait that leads to great moments over and over.
Great personalities make others laugh with a good natured sense of humor. Funny things naturally happen around interesting people, even if they don’t say funny things.
Interesting, likable people usually have a positive attitude. Have you ever been around someone who is negative all the time? They’re always complaining and just bring others down. They probably don’t have many friends, because we all naturally try to find ways of avoiding them.
The same happens on social media. Those always ranting and raving about how messed up the world is tend to be ignored, even by their friends. Who wants to be brought down?
Positive, upbeat people attract others. It’s easy to be around them because they lift you up. Take an inventory of those you spend the most time with, and look forward to seeing. It won’t take long to understand this trait.
Finally, great personalities have a confidence that stops just short of arrogance. This gives them a boldness to be themselves without demanding all the attention.
This confidence may come from an intense need to be liked, or even the fear of not being accepted. It usually manifests in a healthy swagger without coming across as egotistical or self-absorbed.
Stations with someone on their staff that fits these descriptors should do everything possible to keep them. Don’t let them get away. They’re rare. Some may be a diamond in the rough with no radio performing experience. That’s okay. It’s easier to coach them to perform a radio show than try to change their personality.
Maybe they’re on the air now, but aren’t demonstrating those qualities. Or maybe they work in the promotions department and haven’t had a chance to show off what they can do. And maybe it’s a hostess at a restaurant that makes you feel great, even if the food is only average.
Be alert to identify them. They could be the next big thing, and the radio industry needs more next big things!
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