April 22, 2014
Over the years I cannot count the number of times personalities have asked me, "How do I sound?" They aren't asking about the content but how their voice actually sounds. This comes from not only beginners but also from people with a few years in this business.
Whenever I get such a question, it reminds me of old radio myths and some are still lingering around the industry. We bring some of these non-truths with us into the business. Seriously, think about it: when you were a child, did you think the jocks and/or the musicians lived at the station? Come on, admit it, don't feel bad, I can remember calling KMOX and asking to speak to Jack Buck after a baseball ballgame when I was 11 years old.
Even better: Stop and think about some of the questions friends and family have asked you over the years. I thought I would list my top 10 from within and outside our industry. See if any of these are on your list or bring back a few memories.
Myth 1: Top of the Hour - Listeners tune in at the very top of each hour.
Fact: The top-of-the-hour thing is a television program or potentially a specialty radio thing, such as a countdown show. Listeners tune in at various times of the hour.
Myth 2: People need more tempo songs.
Fact: Folks listen for hit music. Many jocks still get it in their heads that tempo is the most important thing listeners care about. I can remember catching my morning crew dropping songs because they thought their show needed more pep. In reality, play perceived hits and the audience will love you for it.
Myth 3: The more different types of music that are played, the longer people listen.
Fact: You have to hold true to your format. People tune in because of the format you market. So, no surprises ... give them what they expect.
Myth 4: Don't play a song as much because it will make your listeners want to hear it more.
Fact: It depends on the radio plan and marketing strategy. Consider two radio stations. Radio station "A" has a power rotation (Top 22 HOT Songs) and a medium category (36 current songs). It plays a song from the hot category twice and hour and songs in a medium category come up once an hour.
Radio station "B" has a HOT category (13 songs) and in the medium category (17 songs). It plays three HOTs an hour and two medium category songs an hour.
"A" will be perceived as the station that doesn't play the hits; station "B" will do better in the ratings because listeners will have more opportunities to potentially hear their favorite songs.
Songs perceived to be hits are those reflecting the proper interpretation of research, sales, video airplay and feel for the marketplace.
Myth 5: The request lines, Twitter and Facebook are the complete conscience of the entire listening audience.
Fact: Request lines represent 3-6% of the listening audience of any station. Add in social media and it still does not represent the overwhelming majority of a station's audience. None of these areas should ever be the sole reason for what you do; they are a part of the solution.
Myth 6: Midday is the best shift to feature female announcers.
Fact: Great announcers come in all genders. There was a time in our business when woman were considered best suited for middays; these days women hold down top-rated shifts in all dayparts. An associated myth comes from jocks asking how they should adjust their sound when switching to work various shifts. Be you, no matter when you work. There are a few nuances to some specialty shifts, but other than that, just do your thing.
Myth 7: Program Directors do nothing but program music and work with jocks.
Fact: At one time, that was true. However radio has become an industry in which PDs are actually managers; dealing with business managers, budgets, website management, community relations, the jocks, engineering, marketing and sales department objectives, etc. Working knowledge of all departments is important.
Myth 8: Morning jocks just seem to know what to do.
Fact: It takes several years of learning the craft of radio and how to apply it to effectively do a morning show. It takes a combination of human observation, knowing the music of the format, timing, having the ability to project your personal side, and present everything in a concise and entertaining fashion. It also takes some time to learn how to wake listeners up and not wake up with them on the air.
Myth 9: Radio stations are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Fact: Radio is an abstract concept. There is a business office and other assorted persons; business hours are usually 8:30a to 5p. Hard to believe, but there are still adults who do not think of radio as a business. It still makes me laugh when I used to tell people what I do and they would ask what else I did.
Myth # 10: All announcers have big deep voices.
Fact: Much of the industry was once geared towards deep-voiced males. It's about projecting one's self, not about depth or voice range. It's how you come across to the audience. Even people with deep voices need to be trained. The most important thing is how you use your voice.
Radio people are human and we walk around believing things because we either heard it or, these days, read it on the Internet. Do yourself a favor and try and make sure what you've heard has a basis of fact and is not just another myth perpetuated by undocumented radio legend.