Escape The Radio Zone of Mediocrity to Launch Your Career

Escape The Radio Zone of Mediocrity to Launch Your Career

by Tracy Johnson

Radio personalities are either making an impact, or not. They’re either true personalities or just announcers. There’s nothing in between. But there’s a problem. Almost all human beings want to be loved and accepted. And we want to be special. Nobody wants to be average. But few are bold or committed enough to stand out and truly be special. Most are afraid to be different. That’s why the vast majority of radio personalities are trapped in the zone of mediocrity.

Personalities that stand out – the elite 1% – are almost all hated or disliked by a percentage of the audience. And that makes personalities uncomfortable.

But personalities that build loyal followings always produce negative comments. Always. The very things that cause listeners to fall in love with them cause others to dislike them.

They are polarizing.

The Zone of Mediocrity

At many, perhaps most, radio stations, programmers work so hard to avoid negatives that they scrub the very character traits that attract fans. Talent becomes cautious, worried about offending their listeners to the point they aren’t able to demonstrate those attractive traits.

As a result, nobody dislikes you. Some like you. But nobody loves you. And that’s sad.

To become an on-air superstar, and not just an announcer or DJ, we simply must focus on things that will cause listeners to love us. We can’t win fans by removing things that may be offensive to some.

That’s what puts talent in the Zone of Mediocrity:


zone of mediocrity large


I get it. Those complaints are loud, and dealing with them isn’t fun.

Most media personalities share a point of view cautiously, timidly and politely. They are afraid of upsetting someone, and hate it when an email or phone call comes in and says:

You know, I don’t like what you said today about ________.

That hurts. It’s hard to hear. But to be a powerful personality on the air, talent must learn to ignore the noise and discern which complaints are valid and which are not.

You might also like:  Should You Avoid Some Topics for Fear of Being Fired?

Telling Stories

Think of a radio show as a story with characters. Chapters happen in each break, each day.

For a story to be compelling, there must be friction. Some call it conflict. And a story must have compelling characters an audience identifies with. They may rally around and cheer for some, and root against another. But only strong characters inspire passion.

The stronger a character’s point of view, the greater the friction. And the stronger the attraction.

In his book, Story by Robert McKee, the author makes this point:
A protagonist and his or her story can only be as intellectually fascinating and emotionally compelling as the forces of antagonism make them.

Another way to put it is that love doesn’t exist without hate. Fans don’t happen without detractors.

Are you brave enough to be a real personality, like Brant Hansen? Because he is not afraid to be criticized.

Great Personalities Are Irreplaceable

Instead of silencing personality, let’s celebrate it by building a true fan base.

It is more important than ever to stand for something!

Broadcasters spend a lot of time and money on research to get rid of things listeners say they don’t like rather than investing in creating things they love.

For personalities, here are a few ways to do it:

Take a Side

The middle of the road is for road kill. Get out of the middle. Tolerance is great in real life. It’s a problem on the air.

Speak in Absolutes

Prefacing comments with, “I think” or “It seems to me” or “In my opinion” weaken personality.   This is more powerful and entertaining than making qualified statements.

Build Suspense

Pausing for effect can add drama and emphasis.

Great personalities build fans. And in the process, they accept the detractors.

Staying in the Zone of Mediocrity always results in a product that is tolerated, but lacks passion.

It’s like being a good football team because they play the game NOT to LOSE. That’s a sure strategy that usually results in average seasons, but will never win the Super Bowl.

You might also like:  Personality Profile: Stuart Scott's Legacy [video]

That’s the very definition of the Zone of Mediocrity.


In the entertainment business, the opposite of love isn’t hate. It‘s apathy. If listeners don’t care, you don’t count.

Ask yourself: If you were to go off the air tomorrow, never to return, what would listeners miss? This is a scary question that takes time to answer. And it demands soul-searching.

Most personalities don’t know how to answer that question. And if you can’t answer it, there’s a problem.

In my Audience Magnet course, I show you how to build a personality brand that matters and truly resonates with listeners. You’ll learn how to do it by developing a unique personality brand.

Personalities: Have a point of view. Have an opinion. Make a difference. Don’t be mediocre. Because the opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference.

The Passion Puzzle

The Physics of Passion: Your Show and Loyal Fans

Take a Stand To Build A Brand

How To Measure Listener Passion For Your Brand

Do You Polish Entertainment Out Of Your Show?

Opt In Image
New! Air Check Coaching
Custom One On One Private Coaching Sessions

The ideal tool for under-coached air talent, over-worked program directors and forward-thinking managers.



Special Offer: 50% off your air check coaching session: Use Coupon Intro50 at checkout.

Fill Your Phone Lines eBook
eBook, 6.95

Learn how to get a ton of callers, and better callers, than ever before. New! Air Check Coaching Custom One On One Private Coaching Sessions The ideal tool for under-coached air talent, over-worked program […]

Double Your Ratings Seminar on Demand
Webinar, $19.00

DOUBLE YOUR RATINGS: You can double your ratings in less than 12 months by understanding how to play and win the ratings game. This seminar will change how you approach the entire creative process.   […]

The New Insiders Radio Network

Is This Really Radio's Most Valuable Resource For Personalities Programmers and Promotion Managers?