by Tracy Johnson
Dynamic radio personalities are the key to radio’s future. But not all talent is created equal. Today’s broadcasters should be on the hunt for superstar radio talent with the power to transform a station by leading a fan base.
Finding superstar radio talent is hard. To be successful, it helps to know what to look for. Here are some of the main attributes that make talent great.
Everyone knows it’s important to be different. But there are a lot of different, weird people that cause the public to run away. Some personalities 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 develop likable, compelling qualities that attract fans. That starts by embracing quirks and flaws.
Likability 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. Others may not have much to say, but still command attention because they’re just fun to be around.
Often, the exact qualities of a dynamic personality are hard to identify. There’s just something about them that’s interesting.
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 others agree with them. They don’t force it.
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 after another. 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.
And listen to how it’s presented. If they start telling you how you should think, they don’t have the gift! This game is not about knowledge of the topic. It’s about having something to say and owning their point of view.
Superstar radio talent is even interesting when saying “I don’t know or care anything about it”.
Creative personalities have a story for every conversation. Most stories come from their lives and experiences.
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.
Each story had us hanging on every word to hear more. She is an interesting person because she didn’t hold back. Iris was willing to be open, vulnerable and honest. We couldn’t get enough!
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. Interesting people are curious to experience new things, which leads to new stories. And they’re constantly alert to stories when they happen.
Find out what personality prospects like to do, how they spend their time. Ask about hobbies and weekend activities.
Radio is a demanding gig. After a long day on the air and preparing the next show, the last thing some personalities want is to interact with people. But that’s where rich life experiences come from.
This 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. But listen carefully. Beware of talent that repeats funny lines. Sooner or later, they run out of material.
Interesting, likable people usually have a positive attitude. Have you ever been around someone who is negative or sarcastic? They probably don’t have many friends, because others try to avoid 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 friends. Who wants to be brought down?
Positive, upbeat people attract others. It’s easy to be around them because they make you feel good. Take inventory of those you spend the most time with, and look forward to seeing. It won’t take long to understand the power of a positive presence.
Finally, great personalities have 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 the fear of not being accepted. It usually manifests in a healthy swagger without coming across as egotistical or self-absorbed.
Do you know someone with these traits? 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 to change a 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 their skills.
Be alert. Anyone could be the next big thing, and the radio industry needs more next big things!
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