She’s obviously wildly successful, wealthy and a household name. And Taylor Swift sets examples for radio performance. Taylor has developed an influential presence through an amazing work ethic. But she has also been smart.

Taylor Swift can’t get away with mediocre work. Her fans expect more from her, and she expects more from herself. Here’s what personalities can learn from her.

Stop Playing It Safe

Listeners don’t respond to ordinary. Being good is the price of admission. Fans demand excellence.

Radio personalities tend to follow the leader. They hear shows producing certain types of material, so they with what seems popular. Don’t believe it? Why does virtually every show in existence carry an entertainment report? Why does everyone run the same features?

Great shows innovate and take chances even if criticized.

In 2015, Taylor Swift took issue with Apple’s decision to allow free trials of Apple Music. During those trials, artists wouldn’t be paid royalties for songs played. She called out Apple and stated that she would not release her album through iTunes. Apple backed down. Eddy Cue, Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services, tweeted this:


Other artists didn’t speak out, probably because they were afraid to go against Apple, but Swift’s actions influenced change. That’s leadership, and leaders get attention.

I’m not suggesting you pick fights and burn bridges. But step up and innovate. Find new ways to bring value to listeners and be willing to take risks-at least a little.

Be Flexible

Taylor Swift launched her music career as a country singer in 2006. A few years later, she slid into pop crossovers. Her transition from country star to pop sensation was a smart move that has earned an impressive collection of awards, including a place on Time’s 100 most influential people in the world. That wouldn’t happen if she wasn’t willing to reinvent herself.

Personalities tend to rely on past formulas without adjusting to a changing environment. How has the show evolved over time? Have you created new features and ideas for engaging today’s listener?

And how active are you on social media? It’s amazing that air talent still basically “does four and hits the door”. If audience engagement is limited to creating a decent show and tweeting a couple of messages, you’re missing opportunities.

Personalities must be active on and off air. How can you create a video presence for your brand? Are you using social media to lead the audience to a deeper relationship? And, perhaps even more importantly, do all social platforms point back to the radio show?

We don’t know what Taylor Swift’s career would look like if she hadn’t adapted, but there’s no doubt that she wouldn’t be the celebrity she is now.

Emotional Connections

Taylor Swift’s greatest skill is writing and sharing relatable stories from her heart, through her music. She makes emotional connections that are memorable and  character-defining. Taylor’s stories are about the human experience. It also helps to know that others feel the same so we don’t quite so alone.

That requires a certain amount of vulnerability. The ability to open up and share is a key trait for radio personalities.

She’s In The Moment

Ever been to a Taylor Swift concert? A funny thing happens there. She’s not on her phone. Taylor isn’t surfing the internet or texting her friends. She isn’t checking YouTube, responding to a tweet, posting on Facebook or adding pictures on Instagram.

She’s performing. She’s in the moment with the audience.

You owe it to co-hosts, the station and listeners to do the same. Focus on every detail. Stay in the moment. There’s plenty of time to lunch reservation after the show. It can wait.


Just doing these things won’t turn you into the Taylor Swift of radio. But applying these lessons are some of the small things that lead to excellence.

And doesn’t your career deserve that?


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