Announcers versus Personalities

In all the years I’ve programmed radio, I’m not sure that I ever hired an on-air “announcer” – I’m not even sure what that title means or why ANYBODY would have the need for one. I’ve always searched for personalities.

Even when I’ve hired a station imaging voice, I never wanted a professional “announcer” to do it…  I’ve always felt that the image voice should represent the personality of your station. It’s one of the reasons I’ve always been a fan of Dr. Dave Ferguson at Loose Cannon Productions… yes, he voiced our imaging, but he was just as much of a personality on the air as any one of our jocks – in fact, he had quite the following as “Deep Voice Guy” on Channel 955 in Detroit.

One of my favorite moments was in the middle of the text messaging scandal with former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. When some unsavory text messages between the former Mayor and his mistress had surfaced in the local newspaper, we used “Deep Voice Guy” to re-enact the conversations… “Deep Voice Guy” always played the part of Kwame, and everybody from the cleaning lady to one of our engineers played the part of the mistress. We turned these into promos on the air, and people literally REQUESTED the promos. I would challenge my Creative Services guy Chris Cole to write promos just for the purposes of entertainment – and NOT for the purposes of “selling” something. As a creative type, he loved the challenge and always delivered. When was the last time you had a listener request to hear a station promo? It happened all of the time in Detroit. Oh, by the way, that was the book that we went to #1 P 12+, the first FM top 40 to ever do that in Detroit.

My point is, why do promos have to sell something? Why not write a promo that entertains or makes people feel something? If you give listeners a good experience, you in fact ARE selling your product, but you’re doing it in a way that gives the listener an enjoyable experience.

And get rid of “announcers”… they’re just clutter that nobody pays attention to. Hire personalities as jocks and imaging voices.

And listen to your promos… chances are they suck. I predict that they sound like a well-produced list of facts about a contest you’re doing for either cash or concert tickets. (Station) has your chance to win (prize)… lock it on (station) at 7, 11, 1,4, and 7 to win (prize) from (sponsor, sponsor, sponsor, sponsor, sponsor, sponsor) and (station)… Most promos sound like this. It may not sound that way to you, but it probably does to your listener.

Try this – instead of spending 2 minutes writing a list of facts, and 2 hours producing a promo with lots of effects and beds, try spending 2 hours writing a promo using meaningful words that entertain or tell a quick story… then spend 2 minutes producing it with only a little production to compliment the words. You might be surprised. Sometimes the right words with no production cut through much better than useless words with lots of effects.

And stop selling… turn your promos into content instead. You might train listeners to actually enjoy a promo – instead of training them to change the station or go to their iPod when a promo comes on.

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