What makes you special?

One of my favorite questions to ask a talent in an interview is “what makes your show special?”

This is a basic question that shouldn’t catch talent off-guard, but nine times out of ten, it does. Then I watch them reach for the “stock” answers – “I work really hard every day”, or “I’m real….”


The sad truth is – if you are honest with yourself – you probably aren’t “special” enough.  Most jock content today falls into a few different buckets: 1) Contesting: Either teasing a contest coming up, or actually executing a contest, 2) Pop Culture News: Reading stories about celebrities that listeners can just as easily find on TMZ.com,  3) Selling something – whether it’s a client live read masquerading as content, or selling music quantity, or pushing people to the station website, or asking them to go to your Facebook page or follow you on social media…. Try listening to a full day of your show, and count how many breaks fall into these buckets…. for most jocks, it’s in the area of 95-100%.

There’s one big problem with this type of  “content” – almost anybody can do it, and it’s  all disposable – you hear it, and you forget about it. Nobody cares. If you think that’s enough to make your show special, you’re part of the reason terrestrial radio is in trouble.

So how do you “do it differently?”

Bob Lassiter was one of the best story tellers I’ve ever heard on the radio at WFLA in Tampa. While I didn’t always agree with his positions, I credit him for having an amazing ability to capture the audience and draw them into a story.  He once said something that summed up why he was such a success – “face it, you know more about me than you do about your spouse… unless you have a better-than-average marriage. You know my hopes, my fears, my failures and my triumphs. And you know these things because I have the guts to share it with you.”  He was right. Listeners knew a lot about him personally, because he shared it on the air.

Start by being human… talk about something that helps me get to know you better. I should know more about you as a person from the time I start listening till the time I stop. If you do a pop culture story, how do YOU feel about it? Tell me about something you did that I might enjoy too.  Have a headache? Talk about why you do.  Looking forward to your sister’s birthday party this weekend? Why? Great, share that. You’ll be surprised at how simple, relatable moments generate response.  Talk one-to-one with the listener…. its ok to be vulnerable! Don’t give them every detail in one sitting – just reveal more about you over time. Master the art of story-telling. Capture listener’s imaginations!

The only way to develop a relationship with somebody is to share life with them…. so why not do this on the radio? Share your life with your listeners, and let them share theirs with you. This is what separates announcers from personalities. Be a personality…. there’s no future in being an announcer.


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