WHENEVER I WANT TO UPSET A ROOMFUL OF RADIO PERSONALITIES, I TELL THEM THIS

by Dan O'Day on November 13, 2012

radio personality tip how often to give nameHere is one of the most controversial statements I make during my radio seminars:

“You should give your name frequently during your show.”

Pretty shocking, huh?

By frequently, I mean:

  • Every ten minutes or so (if you talk a lot)
  • During every break (if you’re a music jock)

And oh, the turmoil that results from this simple suggestion.

“Every ten minutes??”

“Every break??”

Shocking! Outrageous! Not in our market! Not in our culture! Not in our format!

How egotistical! Conceited! Self-centered!

“Okay,” I reply. “How often do you think a personality should give his or her name?”

And the answers (depending upon format, country and culture) are:

A) Once every hour (at the “top” of the hour)

or

B) Once per show (at the beginning of the program)

Either of these choices would be (I am told) much more modest and unassuming.

To this I reply:

Giving your name only at the beginning of your show (or only at the “top of the hour”) is conceited. It is egotistical. It is rude.

Giving your name only at the beginning of your show is like hosting a party and introducing yourself only to the very first people who arrive. And then for the rest of the evening, you don’t bother to introduce yourself to any other guests, because “they must know who I am.”

Frequently identifying yourself to your listeners is courteous.

It’s thoughtful.

It’s generous of you.

It shows that you are concerned with their comfort.

There always is someone who has just tuned in…and if you’re personable and interesting, that person will want to know who you are.

Listeners need what has been called “the confirmation experience”: Have they found the right station? The right host?

Remember, they don’t have any visuals with which to identify you; all they have is your voice. And even loyal listeners often have trouble identifying your voice.

Don’t believe me? Have you ever had the experience of a friend or relative — or even a spouse — compliment you on something they heard you do on-air…only to have you tell them, “That wasn’t me”?

Well, if people who know you sometimes can’t identify your voice, imagine how difficult it is for people who have never even met you.

Road Signs

Imagine that you drive 100 miles to work each day.

There are hundreds of signs along the 100-mile route: speed limits, exits, mileage markers, road identifiers, advertisements, etc.

The first time you make that drive, you notice almost all of them…because you’re anxious not to make a wrong turn or miss an exit.

Now imagine you’ve been driving that route every day for several months. How many of those signs do you consciously notice?

Maybe one or two.

That’s because once you know exactly where you are and where you’re going, your mind filters out the extraneous information.

It’s the same thing on a radio program. The only listeners who consciously hear you identify yourself are those who aren’t sure (or have no idea) who you are.

The ones who do recognize your voice, who already know to whom they’re listening, don’t even hear your name as it’s given frequently during your show.

“Announcers” May Remain Anonymous

Note that in this discussion we are talking about personalities, not “announcers.”

An “announcer” is someone who only does exactly what s/he is told to and never brings any of his/her own personality to the airwaves.

If all you ever do is read the liner cards and deliver endless, monotonous backsells (“That was ______, and before that we heard ______, and before that we heard ______….”), then telling people your name once a week is too much.

Expect Complaints

The Bad News: If you work at a station where hosts don’t already give their names frequently, you very possibly might hear some complaints about your giving your name more frequently.

The Good News: Those complaints won’t be from your listeners. They will be from one or two other staff members at your station. They have been in radio forever — possibly at this one station forever — and “that’s not the way we do things around here!”

Unless you have reason to believe that those two people fill out ratings diaries or are hooked up with Portable People Meters (which of course they shouldn’t even if they get the opportunity), ignore them.

Comments

comments

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Cantoni November 13, 2012 at 9:19 am

I’ve had PD’s tell me the opposite. It’s nice to know I was right!

Darius Filon November 13, 2012 at 9:31 am

One thing I’ve heard WAY too much of is music radio jocks giving their name as the VERY FIRST thing they say …even before station name or artist/title. I know, it’s picky, but it really gives me the chills.

Biff November 13, 2012 at 9:33 am

Many years ago a consultant listened to my over-night shift and the ONLY critique was that I didn’t say my name enough. I thought it was egotistical and self-centred to constantly say my name over and over. Later, the consultant both said to me, I really liked your on-air presentation and wanted to pass on some praise to your PD, but I couldn’t because you never told me who you were. Imagine how your listeners feel, they want to like you – but it’s hard to like a stranger.
After that I treated almost every break as a chance to introduce myself to new people and make new friends and remind my existing listener/friends that it was indeed ME, their trusted companion that was on-the-air.

Jess Dubya November 13, 2012 at 10:01 am

Doesn’t make me uncomfortable at all. I do afternoon drive and I give my name every break, and I still regularly have people tell me how much they love listening to me in the morning. I treat every break like I’m talking to new people than the last one

Don Chaney November 13, 2012 at 10:11 am

I wholeheartedly agree.

pottsy November 13, 2012 at 10:21 am

The discomfort comes from a voice tracking culture. If you’re doing a live show and only talking every ten minutes, it doesn’t seem like “too much”…but if you’re voice tracking an entire 6 hour show in fifteen minutes, you’re saying your name every thirty seconds.
I’m not saying we SHOULDN’T say our names every break…I’m saying when I voice track, I FEEL like an egomaniac because the breaks are recorded so close together.

Mark Cal Lander November 13, 2012 at 11:18 am

When I buy a 12 pack at the store… It says Bud Lite on all of them.

Jim Norman November 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm

In this attention-deficient era, I think Dan’s suggestion makes sense. It’s the jocks who give their names twice in every break that still drive me nuts though :)

Neal Angell November 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Agree 100%. And Dan, I’ve even had that experience with my own kids, upon hearing a commercial that they at first thought WAS me, before realizing it was NOT me (Maybe they only immediately recognize my voice when I’m saying things like, “Pick up your shoes…put your toys away…don’t tell your mom I let you watch that.”).

Autumn Chandler November 15, 2012 at 3:32 am

I am a “newbie” to the radio world I started as an intern when I was 21 and worked for country stations only. I was thrown on the morning show for 4 years and then “let go” due to budget cuts on my birthday, crazy thing was my listeners started a facebook page for me complaining they let Autumn go and blah blah ANYWAYS my point is now I work for the country station across the street with a “big market” guy who has been there done that and he says all the time you don’t have to say your name that much because no one is paying attention around here. Well thanks buddy that makes me feel freaking fabulous, no one is paying attention to me. Drives me nuts!

Geoff Richards November 16, 2012 at 6:28 am

One Program Director I worked for insisted that “your name is your signature”, meaning that you should not give it very often, and when you did, it HAD to be the last thing out of your mouth…because it was your “signature”…(and your signature is the last thing you write in a letter)…

Aw hell, he was a dumbass so he deserves to be outted…it was Mark Driscoll (Mr. Voice).

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