Sunday, July 31, 2011


Being real on the radio is an art and not one that’s easy to accomplish. It’s takes lots of practice to sound like you are having a natural conversation with a friend while you are sitting in a room by yourself talking into a microphone.

If you can master it, you will pull ahead of mediocre DJ’s who sound like they are just “a DJ talking on the radio.” We all know the most common tactic to making yourself sound real is to talk to a picture posted in the studio. While I think that helps, it goes far beyond that.

Here are a few tips:

Know your audience. It’s not enough to say “my listener is a 35 year old female.” Find out everything about them. Arbitron, Media Audit and Scarborough make finding this information really easy. If you don’t know exactly who you are talking to and who your target is, ask your PD. If you’re the PD, be as specific as you can on who your target listener is and share that with both the air and sales staffs.

Always be open and honest. Never say anything on the air that you wouldn’t say to your friend or neighbor. If you really want to understand this go back and watch the scene in Howard Stern’s “Private Parts” where Howard and his wife were moving back from Detroit and they stopped for gas. It was there he had the epiphany that he needed to be open, real and honest. It has made him extremely successful and famous.

Don’t worry about having a “great radio voice.” In today’s radio it’s more important to be real and genuine. People love listening to and watching real people. Just look at the popularity of TV Reality Shows. They are full of real people.

Practice your breaks on co-workers. If there is something you want to talk about on the air walk around the building and tell them the story before you actually do it on the air. It’s a good way to practice the break and see what people’s reactions may be to your story and delivery.

Don’t write out your breaks word for word. It could sound like you are reading it instead of talking about it. Instead, bullet point it on paper and practice it before you go on the air. Have a LAST WORD on your bullet points and when you hit that word, move on. Don’t feel the need to keep adding words when you have made your final point.

Jerry Seinfeld made his fortune on observing others doing every day things and putting a relatable/humorous slant on it. You can do the same. Look for everyday things in your world and work to find a way to talk about them on the air; of course keeping them as brief as you can while still being relatable and interesting. Remember, they don’t all have to be funny. Relatable and real is the key.

Don’t feel the need to always have a punch line at the end of your break. 95% of the time they won’t be as funny as you think they are. It’s OK if you just end the break and move on. It may feel odd doing it, but it sounds so much better than trying too hard to be funny.

Talk “to” not “at” the listener. Nobody wants to be talked at.

Finally, when you aircheck your self don’t listen to it the same day it was recorded. Wait a few days. You’ll be able to really hear what you sound like when you’ve forgotten what you talked about. When you listen, ask yourself “would I like to be stuck in a car driving cross country with this person?”

Bottom line, most people would rather be with a real communicator and friend than “a DJ talking on the radio.”


  1. Great advice, especially the last paragraph. When I go back and listen to some of my very first shows (almost a decade ago), it makes me want to kiss the PD who gave me my first job. SO glad he was willing to take a chance on me! LOL

  2. Always good reminders I am re reading this....just to be sure I am
    "Bringing IT" everyday. It's the hallway before the bell rings, the breakroom at the office. The moments after a PTA meeting, it's when neighbors gather outside on a Saturday after the lawn is done. These are the places where I am when I am telling what I saw or heard.....