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.”

Monday, July 18, 2011


All did recently "10 Questions" with one of Dial Global's syndicated morning jocks. Jeff Young works for me on the Hot Country format as is based out of LA.

Started at KXFM in Santa Maria, CA, playing what passed for Triple A rock then. Jumped to Top 40 at KRIZ in Phoenix a couple of years later, then on to Detroit and L.A. before getting into programming. PD at a few stations then to morning drive for a few years at rock and pop stations from Houston to New York. Finally landed at Westwood One in the mid-90's, since acquired by Dial-Global. Worked 70's, Groovin' Oldies, and Hot AC formats before settling at Hot Country a few years ago.

1) Currently you are doing mornings on the Hot Country format at Dial Global as a solo player, after working many years with partners. What do you prefer?
Solo. Teams and ensembles sound great if the chemistry is right, but test tubes do explode. That's usually because management throws talent together without knowing whether they'll actually be able to co-exist in a small room for several hours a day without killing each other. Pros make it work anyway, but it can be miserable. I've had three bad and only one good team experience.

2) You are in the studio from 2:30 to 9:30! First of all what time do you go to bed and then wake up?
Show prep never ends. I'm usually still online researching and fine-tuning until about 9pm, then up at 1:30a. I keep saying "I'm going to bed at 7:30 no matter what. Ok, maybe 8." Never happens. Sundays are for sleeping.

3) Give us a snapshot of that time in the studio-how many hours of that are you on the air and then the rest is production time?
I'm on-air for 4 hours, and then interviews and promos, etc. afterwards.

4) How many markets are you in and how do the local stations customize and localize your show?
Dial-Global Hot Country is probably on about 100 stations, but in some markets they have their own morning talent. I don't know the exact number. I'm apparently on in enough places to justify my paycheck. As long as that keeps coming and my key fits in the back door at 2:30 every morning, I'm good!
As far as the way the affiliates weave DG talent into the local scene, we all cut liners and weather, etc., to keep it sounding local and timely.

5) You have been with the network since 1994-what kinds of changes have you seen?
Liners were still being mailed to affiliates when I came on board. It's all digital now, with nary a roll of recording tape, CD, cart, razor blade, or grease pencil in sight. Come to think of it, we even had to go outside back then to grab copies of USA Today from in front of the door. I recall fighting off the occasional Stegosaurus to get to the paper.

6) Before joining the network, you worked many formats at local radio stations. Do you prefer being at a network, and why?
I love network radio because I used to have to actually move to a town if I wanted to work there. Now I'm everywhere at once. I do miss meeting locals at hardware store and car dealer remotes, though, and telling them "sorry, I'm all out of t-shirts." I actually meet more listeners on Facebook than I ever did in person anyway, and learn a lot more about them. It's amazing what people reveal online - without being asked!

7) You've done a lot of formats-why do you love Country?
Country today is what Top 40 was when I was growing up. There's a great deal of variety in the music. When I punch up a pop station, it's hard to tell the difference between many of the artists. What amazes me is the number of young people we have listening. Aside from the cliché drinking songs that seem to hang on, there are plenty of love and lovin' life songs, too, with superb writing from the likes of Sara Buxton, Chris DuBois, Taylor Swift, etc. And unlike some pop songs, you rarely think you're hearing a munchkin sing.

8) Do you interview many artists on your show, and do you do them 'live' or 'recorded' and again, do you have a preference?
A ton of 'em. Country superstars are available and love to talk. Ronnie Dunn was on recently. I said to him "thanks for being on the show - we both know you don't need the PR and you'll get played no matter what", and he responded "I DON'T know that. You're talking to the most afraid guy in show biz right now." Most are very down to earth and grateful for their fans and their success. I never go live in case one of them feels the need to say a bad word that day. It's rare, but it happens.

9) Do you talk to a lot of air personalities at the local level who want to work for the network? What do you recommend they do?
As far as the application process, nothing out of the ordinary. Send demos to whomever you want to work for. Once you're on the network, you have to have a "big picture" mentality, keeping in mind that some listeners will be in the middle of their daily routine, while others may be starting or ending their day. You don't want to give away the ending of a TV show that hasn't aired in some places yet. No specific weather references allowed. You can't always be sure that an affiliate is carrying your next hour, so you can never tease anything in that hour. I don't do a four hour show; I do four one hour shows.

10) How do you interact with your all-star PD Johnny Paul? We imagine he yells a lot.
Boy have I worked for the "yellers!" John Paul is not one of those. He's proof that nice guys don't finish last. It's interesting because he is in Denver and some of us are in L.A. He listens to us on any number of affiliates that stream the format. He'll drop a note with a suggestion whenever he feels the need, does an aircheck review every few weeks, and keeps us up to date with daily memos. We have jock meetings via Skype when the need arises and he visits LA.


1) You are a real 'radio guy!' Are there hobbies that you have outside of radio?
Photography and 3 Card Poker.

2) What are some of your favorite new Country artists right now?Jason Aldean, Eric Church, and Ashton Shepard come to mind. Many others. Reba's not new, but just keeps getting better.

3) If you are getting up at the crazy time of like 1am what time do you eat breakfast?
About 12 hours later. Too busy to eat, but still getting fat. Haven't figured that one out yet.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Reading a list on the radio of any kind is bad, especially a "here's the top 10 ways to…"

Lists on TV are different. They have graphics and more time to pull it off. Time is tight on the radio. Without graphics and having someone just "reading" the list gets confusing and boring.

The only thing worse than a list on the radio, is a list with a ton of numbers, stats and percentages. No matter how you deliver it, it will be really hard to follow, confusing and boring. Listeners are only giving you a few of their seconds to decide whether they will stick around. Make every second count.

Plus, listeners can see the same list you are looking at somewhere online. It's not original content. Nothing is special about it.

Instead, focus on the top 5, or better yet, top 3. Don't give the entire list. Give highlights. Turn the spotlight on the listener. You can even start the conversation with the best three on the list, then have listeners call in with their ideas. That's something original that nobody could find anywhere else. You created exclusive content for your show.

Just putting in a little extra thought into the "list break" and not just ripping and reading "the top 10 things….", your bit will be exclusively yours and far more entertaining.