Despite all the zillions of VERY specific tips that I coach, the people I’ve worked with the longest know that I’m all about developing Personality on the air. The most important mentors in my career stressed that – particularly as “cookie cutter” formats became dominant – Personality was the sweet brown liquid inside the Coca-Cola can.
Just the other day, a guy I’ve worked with for several years took a foray into the world of creating a character voice to do his weather forecasts, and ran it several times during his show. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t ‘ready for prime time’ yet, either. Here’s part of what I wrote in our session recap:
I don’t want to quash your aspirations, but we have to make sure that something is fully baked before we serve it. Characters or other contributors need some sort of backstory to legitimize their presence. And even if a character voice works, something this specific can’t work more than once in a show until it’s really fleshed out and defined. Repeating it later in the show, at this point, is overuse.
For the time being, let’s talk about these things before they hit the air, so you’re not bringing a knife to a gunfight.
Characters don’t have to be fictional, either. My first boss, Larry Ryan in Shreveport, Louisiana, made a seemingly nerdy ‘engineer’ type named Ralph Montgomery, who basically just ran the automation machines on our “Beautiful Music” sister station, into “Mr. Weather” after hearing Ralph do a forecast so deadpan that it was hilarious. Mr. Weather became a HUGE star as Larry helped him develop.
Growth happens a little at a time. It rarely just bursts out in full bloom. But you should always be on the lookout for something you can use to be relevantly different on the air.
- Tommy Kramer Tip #245 – What You Can Do in Six Seconds - February 14, 2018
- Tommy Kramer Tip #244 – The Cure for “Puking” - February 7, 2018
- Tommy Kramer Tip #243 – Make Sure it’s Fully Baked - January 31, 2018
- Tommy Kramer Tip #242 – Values: The Center of the Bulls-Eye - January 24, 2018
- Tommy Kramer Tip #241 – The Secret of Survivor’s Success: Stories + Editing - January 17, 2018