I have heard all five of these myths cited by self-proclaimed radio programming “experts” — including consultants, program directors and managers.
Not only are they false; they’re harmful to a radio station’s ability to attract and maintain loyal listeners and healthy ratings.
1. “People don’t remember DJs’ names. Therefore, there’s no point in radio air talent training.”
Some programming consultant actually said that in a trade publication interview.
If your hosts don’t make enough of a connection to your audience to be memorable, then “air talent training” should be at the top of your priorities.
2. “You can’t get people to listen for more than 30 minutes, so don’t waste your time trying.”
If you believe that, then I trust you believe it’s impossible to fix a broken carburetor.
After all, I can’t fix a carburetor.
Reminds me of a radio convention panel session I was on years ago.
Someone in the audience asked, “Is it possible to teach somebody to be a radio personality?”
One of the other guys on the panel replied, “No, it can’t be done. I know, because I’ve tried.”
He can’t teach someone to be a personality. But there are others who can.
I can’t fix a carburetor. But there are others who can.
Many programmers can’t get people to listen for more than 30 minutes. But there are others who can.
I’ve seen their ratings.
3. “Giving your name frequently is self-aggrandizing.”
On a music station, hosts should give their names frequently.
As in, “Each break.”
Making sure listeners know who you are is humble, not boastful.
It’s also good for your ratings (in markets that use self-report measurements and depend upon listener recall).
4. “The audience doesn’t care about you.”
Practically every DJ in the world (including me) has, at one time, worked for a program director or manager who said that.
Of course they care about you!
If you make a human, personal connection to them.
If you’re a personality, not just an “announcer.”
(The difference is… An announcer never says anything worth listening to.)
5. “Never say ‘I.’ “
This one is big among self-styled consultants and certain station managers who never were successful radio personalities.
You know the stereotype of the person who couldn’t make it radio and so instead became a consultant?
I was shown an air talent critique written by one of those “can’t-get-a-job-in-America-so-she-became-a-consultant-overseas” types. She instructed the talent, “Use the word YOU instead of the word ‘I’ to deepen the engage.”
(Yes, she did say “to deepen the engage.” Scary, isn’t it?)
According to her, when you use the world “you,” then boring material magically becomes… um, engageful.
Now, I’ve used the word “I” in this article eight times so far.
Do you find this article to be impersonal?
Should I have said, “YOU can’t fix a carburetor”?
In your daily conversations with friends and colleagues, do you ever say “I”?
Well, guess what: A good radio show is nothing more than a conversation between the host and the audience.
But you still think it’s wrong to say “I”?
Okay. Test it yourself:
Listen to the 20 highest rated air personalities in America. They all say “I” and “me” and “my.” As well as “you” and “your” and “yours.”
I guarantee it. I mean, “You guarantee it.”
How can radio personalities protect themselves against such ignorant authority figures? Nod your head, smile… and then go into the studio and talk to your listeners just as you would to “real people.”