Thursday, May 10, 2012


I've written about this a lot because it's one of the single most important things you can do when you are on the air.  It's what I base nearly my entire programming and personality philosophy around.  I'm relentless with my jocks on this one issue.

Early in my career, the late Jay Trachman (author of "Handbook for Radio Personalities") taught me one of the most valuable things ever.  The best radio is one on one.  Just YOU and ONE listener.  It's simple.  It's key.  And it's hardly ever done.

I listen to a ton of radio, both locally in Denver and online across the country and around the world.  I work with air talent all over country (and a couple on the other side of the world).  95% of the jocks I hear talk to "everyone" and not that ONE person listening. 

We are an intimate medium (or at least we should be).  We are not talking to "all of you out there."  We are talking to ONE person.  Just YOU and that ONE listener.

As a personality, the more one on one you can be on the air, the more intimate the experience is for the listener.  Your goal should be to have the listener think of you as a friend, not "that person on the radio."

Think ONE person.  Not a bunch.  Use the pronouns "you" and "I", not "everyone", "you people", or "listeners."

Talk to only ONE person.


  1. THANK YOU for reiterating this. Too often you hear personalities (in MAJOR MARKETS, mind you) address the listener as "you guys" or "my listeners" (the worst of possible offenses... Can you say EGO?).

    Singular targeting is vital because it psychologically forms a one-on-one bond with EACH listener. Our goal is to have a personal conversation with each and every person that's kind enough to have us on. Not be the guy at the party with the lampshade on his head that's trying too hard to entertain the room. :)

  2. George Orwell once wrote "In broadcasting your audience audience of one“.

    He wasn’t referring to poor ratings!

    You may have thousands, or even millions, of listeners but they are all listening to you as individuals, not as a large crowd.

  3. Watch David Letterman and this theory seems flawed? He constantly says "you people" and "hey kids." I think everyone has their own style and rather than dictate what "jocks" should do. Listen to that particular jock an encourage them to be a personality, not a broadcaster :)

  4. "You" is my keyword in my breaks.

    "You need to be there."

    "You are going, it's settled."

    It can be hard! I catch myself trying to speak to everyone instead of one individual if I'm not careful: "all of you", "any of you", "listen, my friends".

  5. I call my audience Rockuanauts, Ninjas, Mafia as an "I'm part of the club vibe, but always talk to one person in my approach. Sometimes I do refer to my one listener by name...Hey Steve, how are things?...

  6. Right on, John Paul. That was also the very first thing (of value) that I was taught - by Bruce Phillip Miller at the KIIS Broadcasting Workshop in Hollywood. Students there learned by doing, on-air overnight on KIIS-AM.

    We sat in the booth with the jock, watched a while, then were thrown in the pool to sink or swim. VERY exciting. And scary as hell.

    Before I went on the air I asked Bruce "So, give me one really good tip." He said "Talk to the listener one-on-one. It's just you and them. Nobody else. Picture him or her in your mind, and just talk to them like you would a friend." It didn't really register right away because I'd grown up listening to screaming Boss Jocks - but then it hit me...the successful star DJ's I admired, the big bucks morning men like Charlie Van Dyke and Robert W. Morgan, they were more one-on-one than most of the air-staff the rest of the day.

    Here's what I don't understand - why SOME big name talent still don't practice the one-on-one way. Rush Limbaugh is probably the biggest offender. "I am telling you people out there..."

    Maybe some are happy to keep their distance from Rush....even fans!

    But -- some do like being part of a group. They enjoy knowing there are like-minded folks listening to the same show or playing the same game. Facebook and Farmville are good examples.

    Maybe it's OK to talk to "the group" sometimes, and to "the person" at other times.

    Contests might be a good example. If I'm under the illusion that the jock is talking to me, then I hear her give the prize to someone else, I almost feel like I was cheated on. "WHAT? How did SHE win? I listen all day every day and this winner said she's new to the station. I deserved that trip!'

    We just alienated someone we spent a lot of time nurturing.

    So how to make the best of this? I'd love to hear suggestions. If the station has a club or something that would give regulars a bonus on top of the big prize, maybe that would help. "Jenny H won that Australia trip, and because you're also a K-Hip Insider, Jenny, you get an extra $500!' It PAYS to be part of our inner circle! Follow us on Twitter to learn more..."

    The word "you" by itself invokes the desired intimacy, even when a listener knows he or she is part of a group. "Don't forget, K-Hip is sending 20 listeners to the laundromat with Simon Cowell, but only ONE will take home a signed, freshly washed Simon t-shirt. I sure hope it's YOU." We do that all the time. People know they aren't the only one listening, and they don't mind, as long as they're reminded how special they are as an individual.

    But, Rush, even with your billion, I still think you need to stop addressing "you people out there". It just sounds bad. Maybe you'd have a trillion dollars if you'd been more one-on-one all this time.

  7. One on one is always any position you fulfil in life. :)