Personalities Talking Too Much ...
May 17, 2016
The first thing I do when working with an air personality is have a casual conversation and listen to them. These encounters provide insight into their verbal skills -- talking too fast, wordiness, phrasing, the use of voice, and the ability to express clearly. We are drawn to those who can effectively communicate. I can remember working for a PD who wrote lengthy memos. Seriously, we would get two pages on things which could have been said in one or two sentences. My radio teammates would quietly come to me to translate his literary masterpieces. I can still hear myself saying things like, "He wants us to say title and artist in our back-sells."
Every time you open the microphone, it's a chance to connect with both the passive and active listener. Give the audience a reason to stick around for the next moment on the radio. It might be a brief humorous back-sell concerning an artist or song or pre-promoting something coming up after the commercial break. Either way, the more times listeners can be persuaded to come back there is a potential for increased ratings.
Jocks get in the habit of saying unnecessary things like, "Thanks for being here" or "Know what I mean?" It would be okay to say if it were attached to an event or something the audience took part in during the show. It is a very general statement without meaning and unnecessary. I am being picky; personalities need to objectively think about all the things during a show that are necessary and/or could have been said more concisely. The number-one goal should be effective communication and not how many things can be communicated.
Practice Makes Better
Discerning necessary versus unnecessary is a practiced art. The more the unnecessary verbals are eliminated, the sharper the on-air moment and the show. There was a time when PPM and trends didn't exist, only two books a year were released, and each rating period lasted only a few weeks. The programming goal was no mistakes. When you think of necessary versus unnecessary, eliminate the extra words that are added for no reason and focus on being word efficient. Radio is an inexact science; record every show and analyze your verbal presentation. A programming buddy of mine always says," You don't have to be funny or informative, just don't take too long to do either one." Remember, you don't have to shut up, but tighten up.
My Original Topic
Learning how to become more effective behind the mic came up during an e-mail exchange with a personality having voicetracking issues.
Jock: How do I make my voicetracking sound live? I have tried many different things, but ultimately there are certain things that I think point out that I am voicetracking. Contests, time checks, up-to-date weather, and stuff like that I think listeners expect to hear.
Coach: Listeners become creatures of habit. Whatever direction you lead them, that's what they come to expect. You are an actor; know your lines and deliver them in a believable fashion. Whatever you're going to say, do it out loud before you record anything. It is a mindset; eventually with practice, you will be able to voicetrack talk-sets in one take. Your whole approach must be as if it were live; do show prep, especially local stuff. I always suggest going back and listening to your first break for voice and energy levels. No cheating ... you cannot re-record or you will never get better. It's going to take a lot of production room practice, but you will begin to sound live on voicetracks.
Jock: How can I sound local when it's a totally different market?
Coach: Get the station or stations to provide the web address of the local paper, TV stations, colleges, high schools, parks and points of interests. Once a week, try and connect with the OM or PD of the market for a brief conversation to get a feel for things. In your show prep, check the website or sites of the station, any newspapers and one of the TV stations for any content you might be able to use.
Jock: I'm voictracking three markets, how do I stay relevant to all of them?
Coach: If you are tracking in more than one market, keep in mind that some subject matter is relevant regardless of where they listening and some things are specific to a local market. Just blend the general with specific and try to evenly spread the local within the show. This is where necessary versus unnecessary comes in handy. It's not necessary to say something local every talk break for the three cities you are heard in. That would get wordy. Think of yourself as a host at a party and finding moments within a group setting to relay one bit of information to put a guest at ease. It takes practice, but the reward is a more effective way of communicating and making your entire listening audience a part of your world.
Tradition Is Forever Changing
Voicetracking is one of the new traditions in radio. Don't fight it, embrace the opportunity and become one of the best at doing it. Add in your energy and passion and it's the recipe for creativity with depth. You have only touched the surface when it comes to personal discovery with voicetracking.