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I cannot offer a more valuable piece of advice than this to a radio personality:

Surprise your listeners.

One surprising break can go a long way with your audience.

Most radio people do the same things in the same ways every single day.

That makes it easy for the radio people but boring for the listeners.

Listeners are dying to be surprised. They don’t want you to be predictable.

But what about the cherished old radio axiom of “consistency”?

In radio, consistency is good. Predictability is bad.

Consistency means they know what kind of a show to expect from you. If they have to come expect a lighthearted, humorous program, that’s what they will hear when they turn you on. That is consistency.

Predictability means they know what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. And in radio, being predictable means being dead.

Here is the secret to surprising your listeners:

Before you do anything on the air, ask yourself, “What are my listeners expecting to do right now…and how can I do it differently, yep appropriately for them and for me and for my station?”

The reason listeners love being surprised is that most radio people do the obvious thing. There’s some big news story that everyone is interested in. The jock thinks for a moment and then says the first thing that pops into his mind.

The problem with that is all the other jocks in the market have that same first thought, and they all go on the air and say the same things.

I’m not insisting that your initial reaction be different from everyone else’s. I’m suggesting that you allow yourself to have that first, reflexive response…and put it aside.

Don’t put it on the air. Put it aside and look for other equally real responses that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day…because they weren’t the most obvious, first thought.

It actually is quite easy to stand out from the rest of the crowd of radio hosts. Just ask yourself, “What will every other jock in the world do with this item?” — and then do something different.

By default, you will look like a creative genius, simply because you did something other than the most obvious.

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