This is How Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay Would Fix Your Radio Show

This is How Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay Would Fix Your Radio Show

by Tracy Johnson

You’re familiar with Gordon Ramsay, right? He’s the celebrity chef with personality that’s built his empire on television. His shows include Kitchen Nightmares, Hell’s Kitchen, Hotel Hell and MasterChef US.

Ramsay’s aggressive personality has become his calling card. He’s direct, honest and often confrontational. And his advice to struggling restaurants could be what your radio show needs. So how would Gordon Ramsay fix your radio show?

Focus on Fewer

Watch Kitchen Nightmares and you’ll see a pattern. Menus at failing restaurants offer too many dishes.

The owners think making every dish under the sun will broaden the appeal of the restaurant. But it doesn’t.

Instead, it makes for crappy food and creates inventory headaches. It also prevents the restaurant from becoming known for something.

That’s why Ramsay’s first step is to trim the menu, usually from thirty-plus dishes to around ten. By specializing on fewer things, they’re able to excel.

Think about that. Improving the current menu doesn’t come first. Trimming it down comes first.

The next step is to polish the ten remaining items.

Trim Your Radio Show

Lots of things get better when pruned. Roses grow bigger and brighter. Fruit trees produce more.

Directors cut good scenes to make a great movie. Musicians drop good tracks to make a great album. Writers trim good pages to make a great book.

Disney has limited real estate. So when they introduce a new attraction, something has to go. They call the process “Worst Ride Out”. This allows them to evolve, reinvent the brand while remaining familiar to their fans.

What if you apply this approach to your station or radio show? What would happen if you reduce what you offer listeners?

You’d do fewer things very well, and you’d do them more often. You could have a laser focus on things that are most important for the brand.

Get Started

So channel your inner Gordon Ramsay and start chopping. It’s not easy, because you think everything on your station is good. But is it great?

Get rid of everything that isn’t remarkable. That may mean taking off things listeners like, but don’t love.

Start with this question:

If my competition were doing it on their station, would I care?

If it wouldn’t bother you, it doesn’t belong on your station.

Content choices are marketing decisions. Everything you do affects your brand, image and relationship with listeners. You can only afford A-Level Material.

Keep, Dump, Reinvent

Make a list of everything on the air. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each. Then assign each element to one of three categories:

Keep it. Dump it. Reinvent it.

For example, is weather mundane, ordinary and delivered without passion? Are you robotic? Does it sound like everyone else? Do you need it? Should you dump it? If not, could you reinvent it with an external voice? Or could you energize it with flavor, personality and excitement?

Whenever you can, swap “Let’s think about it” for “Let’s decide on it now.” Otherwise the “reinvent” category will be long.

If you are on the fence, dump it. You can always bring it back if you miss it (but my guess is you won’t).

Ground Rules For Change

Everything boring gets dumped.

Things that are average or good gets dumped or reinvented.

If you’re not sure, dump it until you know.

Everything kept must have a good reason. And you have to justify why you love it.

Are there features that don’t move the needle? If it’s not moving the ratings needle then it better be moving the brand needle. Otherwise, dump it.

If it helps, rate each feature on a 1-10 scale. That can help you see small differences between various features.


Trimming your station can be a traumatic experience. But it’s necessary. And you’ll marvel at how much cleaner the station sounds once the changes are in place.

Do you have radio’s version of a Kitchen Nightmare? Put on your Gordon Ramsay hat and go to work. Your audience will thank you for it.

Author: Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.

For more than 30 years, Johnson has been developing on-air superstars that attract fans, retain audiences and generate revenue.

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