The Passion Puzzle

The Passion Puzzle

by Tracy Johnson

As a radio performer, most personalities want to inspire a large fan base of raving fans. That leads to rating success, bonuses, and satisfaction in this amazing, wonderful business of radio. But how do we do that? What separates the well-executed shows from those that are truly important? And how can show do more than just presenting an acceptable listening experience? The difference is passion. And it’s complicated. Winning shows figure out the passion puzzle.

Passion is an interesting thing. It’s hard to define. It’s elusive.

I work with many personalities who love being on the radio but don’t have a passionate fire that drives performance. These shows are often technically solid but lack a special ingredient that transcends mastery of the basics. Yet that ingredient makes all the difference in the world.

Give me a personality that lacks experience but has a burning desire to succeed and we’ll create success. It may take a while, but it will happen. It’s the #1 ingredient, and one of the things I emphasize in my Audience Magnet Course.

Every success story begins with passion. As a manager, I’ve found it’s impossible to motivate any employee. But motivated folks can be inspired. Motivation comes from within. It’s based on passion. And passion is a puzzle.

We know it when we see it, but it’s hard to define.

The Passion Puzzle

Roy Williams, The Wizard of Ads, says following a passion is a myth. He believes we don’t succeed by following a passion, but rather by being passionate about what we do. And that “what we do” can be anything.

Williams says that of all the truly successful people he’s worked with, not a single one has ever said they got into their business because they followed their passion. Instead, he says,

The “Follow-Your-Passion” myth is pervasive because successful people are usually passionate. But those people would have been passionate about whatever they chose to do. Their jobs don’t give them passion. They give passion to their jobs.

Aah. Maybe that’s it. Perhaps pouring your heart and soul into what you do produces success. We have it backward. We shouldn’t follow our passion, but allow passion to follow us, wherever it may lead.

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That takes a little pressure off, doesn’t it?

What Passionate Performance Sounds Like

The concept makes sense, but what does it mean for radio performers? What does a passionate performance sound like? And how can you tell when a show is truly performing with passion?

Here are a few indicators:

  • Personalities find ways to become interested in content that appeals to the target audience. And they do it by being performing with boldness while being true to their authentic personality brand.
  • A commitment to excellence inspired by passion doesn’t keep office hours. I can almost always identify shows likely to fail. They’re the ones that become distracted, bored, or disinterested when meeting about their show. It’s like they have somewhere more important to be.
  • A morning personality that never complains about not being able to stay out at night because they have to get up early for the radio show. They follow a modified schedule because that’s what it takes to be great.
  • There is an opportunity to host a major event with a large group of listeners and potential listeners. The air personality doesn’t remember to ask if there’s a talent fee involved, because that’s not the most important consideration.
  • They have a burning desire for feedback, critique, and air check sessions. Because they know that’s what it takes to be the best.
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I really love the thought that passion follows you, not vice versa. It puts you in control of your destiny. And it adds a layer of responsibility to seek excellence in everything you do. It’s how you learn to use your gifts to become the best you can be.


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Tracy Johnson’s Audience Magnet Online Video Course

The Physics of Passion And How To Use It To Build Fans

How To Measure Listener Passion For Your Brand

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