One of the best lines I’ve ever heard about radio was “radio is a marathon without any finish lines.” How true. Whether you’re on air, in programming, promotions, or sales, the race is never over. There’s always room to improve, grow ratings, grow revenue, do a better promotion, and be better on the air. Here’s a few things that will help make you a better personality. They are in no particular order. Some of these may be a review, others may be new.
Avoid clichés. Saying things like the day of the week, “hump day”, “just around the corner”, “hey”, “let’s go to the phones”, giving the time any other way than digitally, are all examples of clichés. Thinking you need to talk like a DJ because your on the air is bad radio. The best shows sound like real people.
Cut the extra words. Speak in telegrams, not complete sentences. Don’t say “the time now is 3:15 with lots of blue sky, sunshine and 85 degrees.” You can say the same thing in half the time and have more momentum and energy. “3:15, sunny and 85.” Just say the meat of the sentence.
Write out your breaks. Not verbatim, but bullet points. Know where you want to go with the break and how to get in and out. Practice it before you crack the mic.
Be yourself and open up to the audience. Talk about yourself, but don’t be self serving. Don’t be afraid to make fun of yourself. Being self deprecating is not only relatable, but endearing. Look how popular it helped make Howard Stern.
Know your audience, not who you think they are, or want them to be, but who they really are. Study them and only talk about things they care about. Most listeners don’t mind talk if they can relate with it.
Very seldom do you need to have a transition between thoughts. Things like “hey”, “let me tell you about this”, or “did you hear about this”, are hardly ever needed. A simple pause and change in inflection will separate thoughts. It may feel a little weird, but it will sound so much smoother.
Prep. Not just going through papers, internet and show prep services. Keep a note pad with you all the time. Write things down you see while driving, at the store, things your kids say, etc. Take it a step further and keep a mini disc with you all the time. In radio all we have is audio and the more you have the better.
Talk TO the audience, not AT them.
Tape every call and include the listener. Listener interaction is key. Don’t just run phoners to run them. Run only the good ones. Make the listener the star.
Don’t listen to your aircheck right after you get off the air. Wait 2-3 days. You’ll forget things you talked about and it will sound fresh. You’ll have a better chance of truly critiquing yourself if you wait a few days.
Finally, have a life outside of radio. While working in radio is the greatest and once it’s in your blood it’s hard to get out, it’s important to have a life. Have friends that don’t care you are on the radio. Do things that your audience does and talk about that on the air. Learn to walk away from it every once in a while. It will keep you from getting burned out and help you relate better with your target audience.