Audiobook narrators: Do you get paid just respectable fees, or do you command respectful rates for your recording work?
After you watch this brief video, you’ll realize you’ve been shortchanging your own career.
To play video, tap the “Play” button in the middle of the screen.
To enlarge to Full Screen, tap the “star” image in the bottom right corner. Please “Like” and Share below and then leave your comments/questions.
One difference between a “radio announcer” and a “radio personality”:
The job of a radio announcer is to do what they’re supposed to do, efficiently and correctly.
The job of a radio personality is to keep people listening longer than they intended.
Alfred Hitchcock’s Two “Usual Alternatives”
Once when working out the story of a movie, Alfred Hitchcock said to his collaborator, “In other words, we’re back to our usual alternatives: Do we want suspense or surprise?”
Hitchcock believed that suspense “is the most powerful means of holding onto the viewer’s attention.”
Both Suspense and Surprise are crucial to the programming of a successful “live” radio station.
When does suspense exist on the radio? Whenever the audience is wondering what’s going to happen next.
That can occur in the space between your asking a provocative question of a guest and the guest’s response.
One common example of Radio Suspense is the Tease:
“In just a moment, we’re going to hear the Beatles song that they left until the very end of the recording session…because they knew it would completely ruin John Lennon’s voice for the day and they’d only be able to give it one take.”
Another famous film director, Francois Truffaut, declared, “The art of creating suspense is also the art of involving the audience.”
It’s not enough to say, “We’ve got something interesting coming up but we’re not going to tell you what it is.”
You’ve got to involve your audience. They’ve got to actively want to hear what’s coming next.
This Card Magician Has the Secret Formula for Increased Time Spent Listening
There’s a well-known card magician named Darwin Ortiz, who has coined Darwin’s Suspense Formula:
“Make them care, then make them wait.”
That’s how you build suspense. Make them care….And then make them wait.
The Structure of Surprise
Remember, Hitchcock had two choices when he wanted to move the story along: Suspense…and Surprise.
Surprise is something happening in the wrong context.
Without context, there can be no surprise.
But when something happens in the wrong context, it can be both surprising and hilarious.
On the off chance that you’re not among the 80 million people who already have seen this short video, here’s an example of something completely unremarkable occurring in the “the wrong context.”
In my radio talent seminars, I stress the importance of a personality on a music station “making everything his own.”
Even though you don’t select the music, even if everything you do on-the-air is prescribed by your program log, if you’re a personality and not just an announcer you need to infuse those elements with enough of your own unique style to “make it your own.”
If you do everything exactly as everyone else on your station and on your competitors’ stations do, what’s the point of having a live jock in the studio? Why not just have one person voice track everything?
I’m not advising you to break format. I’m encouraging you to do what you’re supposed to do, but to do it your way.
Here’s an example from many years ago. If you’re not old enough to be familiar with “Late in the Evening” by Paul Simon, here’s a line from the song:
Here’s The Greaseman, coming out of that record a long time ago, on a less than digital quality rendering of an AM signal in Jacksonville, Florida. (You’ll want to crank up the volume first.)
As with many exceptional radio personalities, lots of people love The Greaseman; lots don’t. I’m among the people who “do.”
But “do you like this jock or not?” isn’t the point of this piece.
I heard him outro that record 3 decades ago. And to this day, every time I hear “Late in the Evening,” in my mind I hear “Grease”’s voice saying, “The next time you step outside to light yourself a ‘J,’ as you so quaintly put it, you’ll be looking at the back of a squad car….”
That is an example of a jock making something as basic as a song outro his own.