After you’ve become a successful talent, one of the most significant challenges with your show’s Content is knowing when to stop doing something.
People listen for 10 minutes – 20 if you’re lucky. Huge fans of the show will listen longer, unless they feel that it’s just rehash. Then, even they will go find something else.
So try this on for size:
[A] Whatever you do, treat it as a “one-off” break, meaning that it could stand alone. Plan to move on to something else the next break.
[B] But IF you get a decent reaction—a phone caller, for instance, or if you have a teammate on the show that might have a different “take” on it, okay, air that.
[C] Everything else on that subject now has to EARN being on. This means it has to cover NEW ground, not just repeat a point that’s already been made or give a second example of something we already heard.
Think of it like movies with sequels. Almost every time, the sequels get worse. The 4th Indiana Jones movie, the 4th Lethal Weapon movie, the additional 3 Star Wars movies, or any Jennifer Aniston movie.
It seems so easy to hear the mistakes your competitors make – the things they do that are dumb, not thought out well, phony-sounding, pukey, lame, irritating or obvious.
But for most air talents, it’s hard to hear ourselves the same way.
It’s because we know it’s us. Someone we like. Someone we root for and want to succeed.
So here’s the lesson:
Gary Larson, the creator of The Far Side comic strip, had this great two-panel cartoon.
The first panel was titled, “What we say to dogs.” A guy scolding his dog was saying “Okay, Ginger! I’ve had it! You stay out of the garbage! Understand, Ginger? Stay out of the garbage, or else!”
The second panel was titled, “What they hear.” Same drawing – the guy pointing his finger at the dog, but the dog is hearing him say, “Blah blah GINGER blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah GINGER blah blah blah blah blah.”
This not only applies to the Listener – you have to be talking about things that he or she CARES about – it also applies to your Air Talent. Say you’ve had a coaching session, and decided that for the next two weeks, you want the Talent to work on being concise.
Think of how many times you’ve heard an Air Talent say – more often than not with the sound of rustling paper or a page turning in the background – “I was reading an article in this magazine yesterday,” or “I saw in the paper this morning that…”
Or there’s the “attribution” thing of “This morning in the Dallas Morning News…”
Barney Fife, the classic Don Knotts character on the old Andy Griffith Show, probably never thought he’d become a role model – at least not for radio. But that’s exactly what happened.
Sure, many radio jocks share Barney’s ego, bravado, nervousness under pressure, taking rules too seriously (or ignoring them), trying to pretend you know more than you actually do, bad singing voice, and rather vague knowledge of the human anatomy (“the obondalla isn’t in the leg, Ange…it’s in the brain”), but the passing on of the “idiot torch” is not what made him a role model. It’s that in his shirt pocket, this fearless deputy, this symbol of law and order, this staunch upholder of the people’s rights carried… his one bullet.