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THE MAGIC OF SELF-REVELATION FOR RADIO DJs

Almost all radio personalities with successful, long-term careers have this in common:

They reveal something of themselves while on-air.

The more you reveal of yourself, the more you become a human being and not just an “announcer.”

And listeners relate to people much more easily than they do to announcers.

Unfortunately, some radio people have been told by uninformed program directors:

“Never talk about yourself on the air. The audience doesn’t care about you.”

Of course they do.

Your listeners are interested in you — if you share parts of your life with them in an interesting manner.

Some of those same PDs have foolishly instructed their hosts never to say “I.” Instead, they should say “you.”

According to this rule, rather than say, “I was late for work today because I couldn’t find my car keys,” you’re supposed to say, “Have you ever had trouble finding your car keys?”

Ridiculous.

I remember my very first radio job, in the tiny town of Chatham, Virginia. At the end of my first air shift, the PD called me into his office.

I was literally shaking with fright. I was certain he was going to fire me.

What would I do then? I had spent every penny I had to move clear across the country.

How could I face my friends and family, having failed so miserably in my new career?

The PD closed the door and said….

The previous five paragraphs didn’t use the word “you” even once. But the words “I,” “me,” “my” and “mine”  appeared 13 times.

Did that prevent you from being interested? Or in some way did you identify with my predicament?

(By the way, nothing happened then…Because that event didn’t occur. I did move across the country for my first radio job, which was in Chatham. But I wasn’t fired — “laid off” with the rest of the staff — until a month later.)

Or….

(And this story is completely true, so you don’t have to worry about being suckered….)

I remember the very first record I ever bought:  

“Running Scared,” by Roy Orbison.

It cost me 79 cents at the La Salle Music Shoppe in West Hartford, Connecticut.

I still remember taking the shortcut across the cemetery to get there on that chilly Saturday in October.

That’s probably not the most compelling true story you’ve ever heard.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if it triggered some sort of memory from your own experience — the first record you bought, the first record store you ever went to, maybe just some local cemetery in your hometown.

You don’t alienate your listeners by sharing your life with them — not if you do it in an interesting, relatable, compelling manner.

Rather, such details serve as a bridge between your life and theirs.

As a radio listener, if I spend three or four hours with you and at the end of your show haven’t learned anything at all about you, my time has been wasted.

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  • Kevin Anthony March 14, 2013, 6:26 am

    great, just great, thank you

  • Jim Gilles March 14, 2013, 10:47 am

    Same can be said about commercials. “Announce” through the :60 or :30 – instead of emoting the soul of the message – and you’ve wasted the listeners’ and the advertiser’s time (even if the advertiser demanded you voice it that way).

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