While radio brands for specific formats can be difficult
to establish and grow, the cult of individual personality on radio airwaves arguably
is more vibrant than ever. When stations are able to establish radio
personalities as celebrities, the rewards are huge in terms of ratings and
As we all know, when you go for the gold, the
action almost always requires risk. In order for stations to develop
personalities, they must commit to larger salaries for talent, superb program
directors, significant marketing effort and a willingness to fail and try
Because of the risk, the semi-automated jukebox
has become the fallback position for too many music stations. How can you
convince your owner or corporate structure to take the risk for personality
First, you must be willing to put your job on the
line based on performance. Next, remind the powers-that-be about the benefits
of having a star in-house.
Here’s what a
true personality for your morning, mid-day, afternoon or even evening show buys
Relationships with your listeners
People relate to and bond with someone they like
or find fascinating. Once that voice and name are embedded as a memory,
listeners pay attention to what your station is broadcasting. You are no longer
background noise. Your personality will drive action.
Listeners will attend your events to be part of
the family. They will take part in your fundraisers for charity. They will
relate to each other as having your personality in common. They will join your
personality on Facebook and follow him or her on Twitter to glean as much as
they can about that person and to feel a sense of belonging in a fun community.
Relationships with your clients
can endorse products in a way that will actually sell them. A simple live-read
— even without actual endorsement — can be very effective for clients. When
clients meet and bond with personalities at your private parties or at their
place of business, it will make a difference in the size of the order you
receive and for how long that schedule will be broadcast.
While people can
and will set a DVR for TV shows, no such easy product exists for radio — and live
personalities with a following can create consistent, habit forming tune-in. The
only TV equivalent is live sports. Stations that run as jukeboxes are now
competing with a plethora of live streaming services online, many of which are now
used on mobile in cars.
The competition is ramped up every year, whether
it’s giving people exactly what they want or sounds that are similar to what
they already like. I’ve got six apps on my mobile phone right now that deliver everything
from rare live concerts to on-demand songs.
Once upon a time, there were rare stations that
could generate buzz based simply on their call letters or name. That time has
passed. Now it takes names of personalities to make the news, get a pop in
social media or be discussed around the coffee machine at work. “Did you hear
what so-and-so said this morning on the air?”
Again, I urge you focus on this particular reality:
It’s a rare personality who can thrive without a great program director (or
series of program directors). Most of these performers — whether projecting
their own personality on-air or devising another — require a manager who is
part psychiatrist, part motivator, part expert in the culture of the locale and,
above all, an excellent listener and problem solver.
Hiring, managing and promoting air personalities
bring great risk and tremendous reward. Are you ready for the challenge?
Next month: How to find the right personality
for your station.
Mark Lapidus is president of Lapidus Media. He can
be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.