What every radio talent needs

There’s something that every radio talent needs, especially those successful enough to earn the big numbers. In fact, the more successful they are, the more they need it. It’s a whispering slave. First, a quick history lesson: In ancient Rome there was a very special tribute that was accorded to a victorious general. It was…

Unlocking talent: delicate and dangerous

Most of the times I have been called in to work with on-air talent, it’s been because their PD (Programme Director) didn’t know what what was wrong. Actually they did, they just didn’t have a word for it. I have found that the biggest challenge for radio station PDs is finding the time to do what…

Making something out of nothing

I have been asked to provide examples to underscore key points that I make on The Edge, and while the ephemeral nature of a radio station’s products makes that difficult, I will try where I can. And there are few better examples to explain key concepts than one that succeeds because it makes something out of…

The case for more talk in music programming

I am constantly intrigued by the prevalence of music formats in radio stations. I am well-aware of the secrets behind their popularity, but I also know they’re built upon an outdated, and increasingly flimsy, premise. I spent over 25 years in radio, most of it in a state of constant anxiety; the reason for this is that I had burned into my…

The great ‘bed’ debate

The great unwashed would wonder about the title of this update; and think it’s possibly about the comparative merits of soft versus firm beds. We, of course, know otherwise. The use of beds under the voice is an ongoing debate, and both camps – for and against – offer good arguments to support their respective…

Creating ‘water-cooler’ content

In another instalment of The Edge I teased towards what is one of the highest forms of effective radio and promised that one day I would expand on it. Well, here it is. There are two levels in the presentation of a radio show: ‘the maintenance’ and ‘the magic’. ‘The maintenance’ is the essential foundation…

Losing the crutch

No matter how able-bodied we may be as radio professionals, we all carry crutches. If they support us that’s fine, if not, but instead they interfere with our movement, they can do some serious damage. My main concern are the words and phrases that sneak into our conversation and then manifest themselves as crutches that,…

Using emotive words for harder-hitting news

The Americans lay claim to the saying “a picture paints a thousand words”. Because it’s quite profound in its simplicity I’d hazard a guess it’s really Chinese in origin and the Americans are hoping if they take the credit for it, it will make up for their creating such TV programming pulp as the nauseating…

Competitions 2: Expanding the caller base

There are few callers more irritating than the ‘prize pig’ – the person who always calls in to take part in phone-in competitions and then invariably seems to win. We know who they are and the listeners know who they are; but they keep on calling and keep on winning. The reason they keep on…

Competitions 1: Psychology of successful competitions

Whilst discussing the merits of competitions with a team of on-air professionals, a particularly enthusiastic chap, clearly out to impress me, proudly announced that that morning he had casually given away a substantial cash prize, “One caller, one question, ten grand, just like that” and he clicked his fingers. “Well then”, I replied, “that was…

Real radio talent don’t read

“Most on-air radio professionals are under the misconception that they need to read. This is not true. They need to be able to read, but there’s only one occasion – unless they are a news reader or radio news anchor – when they actually need to read.” I love telling radio talent this because it…

Breathing life into live reads

One presenter I was coaching once described live reads very colourfully as ‘the proctology exam of ad spend’. That was until I showed her how to make a silk purse from a proverbial sow’s ears. On-air talent are generally unfavourably disposed towards live reads because they actually have to read the copy, which is a…