RADIO HOSTS WHO DENY THE VERBAL REALITY

by Dan O'Day on December 18, 2014

painting pictures in radio listener's mindsWhen I coach radio talent, one of the first things I teach them is the importance of “honoring the verbal reality” — a concept that originated in improvisational theater.

Simply stated, honoring the verbal reality means that on your radio show, whatever is stated is real.

The opposite of honoring the verbal reality is “denying the verbal reality.”

Usually that occurs when one on-air person refuses to play along with another in deliberately painting a particular picture in the radio listeners’ minds.

Here are two real radio examples.

A Los Angeles Morning Radio Show Denying the Verbal Reality

The morning host of an L.A. radio station spent at least a minute mocking the loud Hawaiian shirt his news guy was wearing.

The news guy tried to defend himself and his loud Hawaiian shirt.

Then the DJ said, “No, I’m just kidding. He’s actually wearing a regular shirt, just as he always does.”

What???

The two of them spent a minute or more painting in my mind’s eye a vivid picture of the news guy’s wild shirt.

Then they wiped that image clean, removed it from my brain, and replaced it with the unpleasant realization that I had been lied to.

If the host says to the newsperson, “That’s a wild Hawaiian shirt you’re wearing,” the newsperson can give any response except “I’m not wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt.”

If Jock #1 says to Jock #2, “Hey, you parked in my parking space again today,” Jock #2 cannot respond, “I didn’t even drive to work today, so obviously I didn’t park in your space.”

We’ll ignore the fact that very few disc jockeys have their own personal parking spaces

The only one I can think of, offhand, is Gary Burbank when he worked at WLW/Cincinnati.

And that was only because he couldn’t think of what else to demand in his new contract, so he said, “…and I want my own parking space.’ ”

In fact, if we were on the radio right now and I said something about DJs having their own parking spaces and you were my partner, you would not correct me.

You wouldn’t say, “That’s just stupid, Dan. I don’t know of any radio DJs who have their own parking spaces!”

Why not?

Because you’d be denying the verbal reality I had just created.

That “Hawaiian shirt” encounter is a typical example of deliberately denying the verbal reality.

It can be equally deadly, however, to lessen the audience’s experience in a more subtle manner.

Denying the Verbal Reality on Public Radio

I hear versions of “denying the verbal reality” in all formats and markets, but I hear this “subtle” denial most often on local public radio stations.

Before I go further…

I’ve been a public radio listener for years.

I’ve consulted numerous public radio stations.

Public radio has lots of real “radio people” working for them.

It also has has a number of people who are on the air but never had the benefit of learning radio from the ground up. Often they came to radio sideways — making a lateral move from some other industry.

I bring this up because earlier this week I heard someone denying the verbal reality on a Los Angeles public radio without ever having a clue about the pictures that are created in listeners’ minds.

Whether or not on-air hosts try to create a visual image , listeners will generate mental pictures based upon what they hear.

So….

I’m in my car, listening as the radio host welcomes the station’s traffic reporter, who has just arrived with the latest traffic update.

They’re chatting.

Granted, their chatter is inane. Here’s how they begin their conversation:

“Good Monday to you.”

“And good Monday to you!”

If you live far from North America and are thinking, “I guess that’s a typical greeting in America” — no, it’s not.

Real people don’t say “Good Monday to you!”

But that’s not the denial of verbal reality that sparked this article.

They chat inanely for 30 seconds or so.

I don’t know what either of them looks like.

I don’t know what their broadcast studio looks like.

But I can see them sitting side-by-side in that radio studio, casually chatting away.

Until one of them says to the other, “Of course, you can’t see me now, but if you could you’d be impressed that I’m more dressed up than usual today…”

Wait! What?

She can’t see you?

But you two are side-by-side in the radio studio.

Or on opposite sides of the console.

We can see it, because we can hear it.

Your voices are perfectly matched.

Thanks to good microphones, good equipment and good engineering support, the processing is the same.

Because of the way your voices sound, your listeners see you in the same room.

That is their verbal reality.

It wasn’t created by your words; it was created by the tone and sound of your conversation.

You weren’t thinking about it because you’ve never thought about it.

You didn’t deliberately deny your radio audience’s verbal reality. You did so unknowingly.

But when your listeners suddenly realized their pictures were “wrong,” they were disappointed.

Whether or not you want them to, the sounds you broadcast always result in mental pictures for your listeners.

Take responsibility for the pictures you paint, for the verbal realities you create in the minds of your listeners.

Public Radio and Personality

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A Loyal Reader Asks:

“What’s your opinion on the famous jock saying, coming up right after this”?
— Louisa Borja Muna

Unless it’s a novice radio host who simply doesn’t know any better, it’s sloppy, lazy, and ineffectual.

Each of your listeners tuned into your radio program for reasons for their own:

  • To hear the traffic report
  • To play the contest
  • To see if you’re playing a song they like
  • For companionship
  • For diversion

When you say “right after this,” you’re telling those listeners:

“Whatever reason you had for tuning to my show no longer is relevant, because we’re not doing it any more. Instead, we’re now doing this — i.e., this bunch of commercials.”

The structure of “coming up right after this” highlights the fact that your radio programming temporarily is coming to a halt.

The solution is remarkably easy.

Focus on what’s “coming up” and don’t even mention the “this”:

“Oh, and yet another woman has come forward with an accusation against Bill Cosby. And this time I think he’ll be forced to give some sort of public response. This is getting messier and messier…Well, I’ll let you be the judge in just a moment here on the Ed Jock Radio Extravaganza…” (begin your commercial break)

Yes, that requires a little more effort, a little more thought than sticking to the format of “Coming up right after this is X.”

But the impact is greater and both your listener interest and your audience retention rate is higher.

That “little more effort” is one of the things that separate successful radio DJs from run-of-the-mill radio announcers.

Download Dan O’Day’s
RADIO PERSONALITY PRINCIPLES

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A Loyal Reader Asks:

“What’s your opinion on the famous jock saying, coming up right after this”?
— Louisa Borja Muna

Unless it’s a novice radio host who simply doesn’t know any better, it’s sloppy, lazy, and ineffectual.

Each of your listeners tuned into your radio program for reasons for their own:

  • To hear the traffic report
  • To play the contest
  • To see if you’re playing a song they like
  • For companionship
  • For diversion

When you say “right after this,” you’re telling those listeners:

“Whatever reason you had for tuning to my show no longer is relevant, because we’re not doing it any more. Instead, we’re now doing this — i.e., this bunch of commercials.”

The structure of “coming up right after this” highlights the fact that your radio programming temporarily is coming to a halt.

The solution is remarkably easy.

Focus on what’s “coming up” and don’t even mention the “this”:

“Oh, and yet another woman has come forward with an accusation against Bill Cosby. And this time I think he’ll be forced to give some sort of public response. This is getting messier and messier…Well, I’ll let you be the judge in just a moment here on the Ed Jock Radio Extravaganza…” (begin your commercial break)

Yes, that requires a little more effort, a little more thought than sticking to the format of “Coming up right after this is X.”

But the impact is greater and both your listener interest and your audience retention rate is higher.

That “little more effort” is one of the things that separate successful radio DJs from run-of-the-mill radio announcers.

Download Dan O’Day’s
RADIO PERSONALITY PRINCIPLES

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BAN THIS PHRASE FROM YOUR RADIO COMMERCIALS

by Dan O'Day on December 11, 2014

radio copywriting tipNote to radio advertisers: In your commercials, don’t mention your “competitive prices.”  

Consumers know the difference between “lowest” and “competitive.”  

A retailer whose commercials take the time to mention its “competitive prices” is like a restaurant promoting its “edible food.”   

The advertisers who boast about their competitive prices actually are saying, “Our prices are nearly as good as the prices other places charge.”   

Hardly a strong selling point.  

Also….

When you say “competitive,” guess whom you’re bringing into your commercials?

Your competitors.

Why would you want to do that?  

Finally, by saying your prices are more or less in line with what everyone else charges, you’re allowing your competition to define the market.   

You should be defining the market in terms of the unique ways your product or service can improve the lives of the targeted consumers.

Use your radio commercial campaign to talk to those targeted consumers about the problems they face and which you can solve for them.

Download Storytelling: Selling with Radio Advertising Stories

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 radio imaging John FrostJohn Frost is what’s known as a “singular talent.” No one else writes, produces and performs his style of radio imaging.

He’s flat-out brilliant at creating comedy for radio. And, more recently, in other venues.

You’ll find his profane, filthy, vulgar tweets here. Odds are you’ll find them either offensive or funny.

Here’s a sample of his radio imaging.

Download Complete Radio Imaging Audio Seminar Here

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