Besides working with young talents to help them accelerate to “warp speed” really quickly, there’s one other area of coaching that really lights me up – helping “seasoned pros” update their sound, so they come across as being in the 21st century. Losing old habits isn’t really that hard. LOTS of old dogs learn new tricks.
Recently, a veteran broadcaster on a Talk show that I coach needed to take a hard look at his vocal approach. His vision was that he was sitting at a table for eight or ten people, and needed to project loudly enough so that everyone at the table could hear him.
That probably was what most people thought when he first started, that a BIG voice that “PRESENTED” everything was the right sound.
But not now. Things are more intimate than ever. No one wants to feel shouted at. So to bring him up to speed, I told him to think of the show as a table for three – him, his partner, and me (the listener). Anything past that will be too loud, and not really sound like you’re actually talking to me, instead of at me.
Sounding animated, indignant, or excited about something is a different matter. My buddy Mancow has that down to a “T”. But shouting everything only worked well for one person: the great Foghorn Leghorn.
I’ve never heard anyone actually say this in a focus group or listener panel, but I guarantee you this is the first thing ANYONE thinks when they hit the button and your station comes on:
Is there something going on here?…or is there nothing going on?
It’s that simple, and it only takes a few seconds for the listener to decide.
Now you may think that doing trivia, This Day in History, “Hollywood News”, or quacking about something you saw on Facebook automatically means that there IS something going on, but those things are not intrinsically good in themselves.
And some music-intensive stations think that just the music and promotional announcements are enough. They’re not.
“Interesting” is not the same thing as Compelling. And “Activity” is not the same thing as Accomplishment.
Now go back and look at what you’ve prepped for today’s show. Is it just “stuff”, or will it really connect with the listener? It has to ENGAGE me to really work.
This tip is specifically for team shows, but it applies to anyone who has someone else in the studio, whether that’s a partner or an interview with someone.
It’s really boring to tune into a couple of people who start a break (or a segment) by only talking to each other. It makes the listener feel like he or she is outside the house, looking at the party through the window.
There’s an easy fix for this, but you have to do it EVERY time: Talk to ME (the listener) first, THEN talk to each other.
Here’s an example from years ago, when I worked briefly on the morning show with one of my dearest friends, “Brother” Jon Rivers in Dallas at KLTY. (You’ll also hear our newsman and Producer reacting.) It was on a Monday. I had taken the previous Friday off to go work with a station in Orlando, but instead of turning to me and saying “So how’d your trip to Florida go?” listen to how Jon started it…
Note: If you listen closely, you’ll hear Jabba the Hut’s laugh as I mention him. The laugh was Jon’s idea, and he loaded it into the computer before we got on the air that day. Just another example of Jon’s brilliance. Production Values – even for something that small – can add an extra dimension.
If you’ve worked with him, or even just read or seen some of his stuff, you already know that Mark is always grinding away, looking to the present only as it applies to the future, and helping stations refine what really connects with listeners.
One of his most engaging thoughts is how essential “memorable moments” are to creating fans of your show (and the station). All the best Consultants’ minds have their own takes on this, but as you may have noticed, I focus on EXACTLY HOW things work.
So, if you want to get on the fast track to creating those Memorable Moments, here’s the foundation in coaching terms:
It’s all about Emotion and Opinion. You HAVE to give an opinion to be remembered. And ALL memorable radio comes from an Emotional place. (The same as great books, great plays, great movies, and great music.)
People NOTICE it when something comes from the heart and reveals something about not just what you think, but also what you FEEL.
Here’s a great example, from my friend Norm Hitzges on The Ticket in Dallas:
The space between KNOWING what to do and actually DOING it is the biggest space in the process. By isolating the purpose of each break – what this break is about, each time – you close the gap.
It’s never “Ready, Fire, Aim.” Unless you’re sure of how you’re starting, what the “plot points” are, and what the Destination of a break is, you’re playing Russian Roulette with that break, no matter how short or easy it may seem to be.
The time to do your thinking is BEFORE the mic opens. Then you just relax into the performance.