How Air-Personalities Can Improve
September 29, 2015
You have to practice to get better at anything; Writing, sports, food tasting, flying drones, building car kits, art, bird watching, and riding a bicycle. Anything someone wants to improve on requires effort before and after the fact.
One of the questions which pops up a lot is, "What do I need to do to improve?" The answer is simple; it takes sweat and people you can count on with the expertise to help.
The Point Of Attack
To be a successful air personality requires passion, practice, a willingness to learn, desire, an open mind, the ability to read, and an ego in check. Air personalities anchor the broadcast industry and the microphone is the power.
- Record every show and listen to it
- Be patient with yourself, it becomes easier with practice
- Practice ... practice ... practice
Each Station Has Rules (Subject To Constant Adjustment)
Regardless of how restrictive you might think your PD is, there is always room for personality within the confines of the format. Personality is little things like:
- Artist and title in a back-sell with a verbal transitional tie-in to a liner.
- One piece of music information in a front or back-sell of a song.
- A silly comment used to describe a song verse and a verbal bridge to something else
Accessorize The Music
It is learning how to smile through the mic and get your point across in the fewest number of words possible. Unless directed otherwise by your boss, center your music knowledge either on what you are about to play or just played. Listeners tune in to hear the music and learn a little something about the artist -- maybe they were just nominated for something or in concert or coming to town. Playing a song and then giving music info unrelated to what played defeats the purpose of being special to the audience. The job of an on-air personality is to be an accessory to the musical moment or moments for the listener.
You Don't Have to Like Your Teacher
One of the best lessons I ever learned about being on the air was how to hook a song to highlight it and the artist in such a way the listener would remember it. The ironic thing was that I learned it from a PD I did not care for. The second best lesson was that you don't have to like the teacher to learn; just be objective and recognize a valuable lesson regardless of your personal feelings. The third lesson was learning what not to do. The morale of the story: Listen to everyone and determine the merits of their advice.
Where to Find Help
I know the question that has been hovering in your mind since you started reading this: Who do I turn to? Get with your PD, a radio talent coach, radio consultant, or jock known for his or her on-air skills. There are a number of known coaches, including Steve Reynolds, Tommy Kramer, Valerie Geller, Dan O' Day or yours truly, Sam Weaver. (Get on Google and find someone.)
Don't be shy, get on social media and connect with people of note or better yet, it's called the lost art of calling. Once you get the number of someone you think can help you, call them. If you have to, leave a message. A couple of days go by and still no return call; polite persistence and call again. No response to an e-mail, send another apologizing and just say that you were making sure your last e-mail did not go to spam.
Once someone knows you don't want anything other than knowledge, most will help in any way they can.
There was a time you needed a production studio to work in or a cassette recorder to try and record yourself. Those days are gone thanks to free computer editing software like Audacity and inexpensive Apps such as Twisted Wave. Google "audio software" and you'll find a lot of choices out there. See, there is no excuse for not practicing.
Stay With It
Learning something new is never the problem, it's the commitment to practice and applying it over and over. It's the principals of learning what to do, how to say something, various on-air procedures, and all the little tricks to on-air presentation. It is a never ending art form. Once you learn what you are doing, the real lessons for success begin.
The Skills Will Not Go To Waste
Traditional radio will continue to evolve and so will all the other audio industries; the skills required to be a great air-personality will always be in demand regardless of what audio medium they are applied to.