We all want to be entertaining on the air. But “funny” isn’t the only thing that entertains. And for that matter, “punch line” humor is dead, anyway.
It’s the UNEXPECTED remark that cracks people up. But great vocabulary, the ability to paint a picture, and vulnerability are all ingredients of “entertaining,” too. Think “A Christmas Story” about the kid and the B.B. gun. (God bless you, Jean Shepherd, for writing that.)
In coaching hundreds of Personality morning shows, I think these may be two of the main things I’ve learned:
- Step One is never just to try and be funny. Step One is to be Relevant. THAT’S ALWAYS THE GOAL. Then – and only then – should you turn your sense of humor and your personality traits into something to do on the air. But if the listener can’t see himself/herself in it, then it’s just another deejay telling a joke. Ho hum. (You know, I can just click Amazon Prime on my phone or iPad and see Jim Gaffigan. He’s funnier than you.)
- You can’t MAKE someone funny. (Partner, caller, etc.) But that can actually work, and become humorous if you put it in the right context. Use your imagination. Instead of going for a joke, go for a funny REACTION.
“Second verse, same as the first.” Herman’s Hermits
Over these last several months these weekly Frost Advisories have had a few recurring themes. For one thing, it doesn’t look like the pandemic is going to be over anytime soon. For another, we need to be thinking about not just getting through the day-to-day grind but also what we are learning through it.
What are we learning about how to encourage during a national emergency? What are we learning about creating a shared experience where people don’t feel isolated? What are we learning about being human and relating to what people are going through?
Whenever you’ve got something working, and the phones are active, it’s important to not have responses just blend into only one ‘camera angle.’ Varying emotions being expressed and BREVITY are mandatory.
Just like a great movie. Whenever the plot starts to get too familiar, or a scene lasts too long, it doesn’t work.
So… you want a different thought in each call, not just the same premise with different names or details. And all you want to use is a little one-thought “bullet” from the call. Remember that each call you air is a sound bite, and the SUM of the sound bites is the complete conversation.
The worst version of our format is “nice Christian people talking about nice Christian things to nice Christian people.”
The best version of our format is like a friend who sticks with you through life’s ups and downs and is an encourager every step of the way.
In execution, the first option is any day anywhere. The second option is right here right now.
When a station focuses on “right here right now” it forces the elimination of all generics. No more platitudes. No more “hang in theres.”
COVID-19 isn’t going away, at least anytime soon. Our normal in March is not the normal in July and may not be our normal in October.
Our focus needs to be now. Because “now” is the one thing we most have in common; yes, even more than our beliefs or our values.
If you’ve had success, it’s easy to think that the learning process is pretty much over. But there’s always another level.
Legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix thought Eric Clapton was stunning, but Clapton thought Hendrix was miles above him. Steven Spielberg thought John Ford was the world’s best movie Director, but Spielberg’s movies will be benchmarks for generations to come.
Great ideas and new approaches are everywhere. The late night talent on a tiny station you pick up driving somewhere may do something so original that it bowls you over.
No matter how good you are, you can get better. And more importantly, you should WANT to get to yet another level. Keep trying to learn more, or you risk becoming a dinosaur.
(From my perspective, this is the essence of coaching. Helping YOU get to the next level.)