Is Great Talent Too Hard to Find?
March 30, 2015
Last week in this column we suggested that radio needs to rely more on its on-air talent and less on its production.Â Both talent and production have roles, but listeners relate better to “live” talent and can form durable bonds with great live talent.Â Most of the truly great stations you can think of are built on the backs of the tremendous talent that breathe life into their airwaves.Â
Many of the great on-air hosts are local hosts, but clearly great is more important than local.Â Talented network and syndicated hosts work their magic on listeners because it’s not strictly about being local; it’s about great content.Â If local was the only thing that mattered, the locally-originated Fox affiliate morning show would be beating Today and GMA in every market in the country.Â
Speaking of morning television, radio has given up lots of ground to TV while consumers are at home in the morning.Â As in-car options multiply, we need great talent to keep listeners coming to Broadcast Radio in the car.Â There are many different kinds of shows that generate ratings and station loyalty in the morning.Â Great talent isn’t easy to find, but it’s critical that radio invests in finding great talent, trains them to succeed within the ratings framework and supports their growth.Â It’s not easy.Â It’s rarely quick.Â But, in the face of growing competition, it’s usually the best course.Â
If you’ve got great talent in the morning, think about investing in another daypart or think about what you’ll do if/when your current great talent moves on.Â Radio’s found great talent in comedy clubs, in courtrooms, from the political arena, even from crank callers to competing stations and many other places.Â It’s a matter of hearing that admixture of conviction and charisma -- people with something to say and a unique way of saying it -- and, sometimes, trusting your crazy ideas.Â It’s been a long time since the ability to slip cue a record or backtime to network news or take transmitter meter readings were qualifications to be on the air.Â We need consistently great talent to connect with listeners in meaningful ways.Â
How many times have we all been in station strategic meetings and shied away from trying a new morning show because a new show can take well over a year to bear fruit -- only to have the same conversation repeatedly over a series of years?Â Famed basketball coach John Wooden asked, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”Â