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Why Do Radio Personalities Exist?

It’s not about how little you talk, it’s about how much you say.

Granted, the ratings generally show that less talk is better on music-oriented stations.

Except, that is, when the talk is compelling and the person talking is someone listeners want to hear from. In other words, when the DJ is part of the brand rather than in the brand’s way, he or she is as much a part of what listeners look forward to as any song.

You become worth hearing when you have forged a relationship with listeners over time. Do you tell your friends to shut up while you’re listening to music? Or do you hear them out because they’re your friends and the things they are saying matter to you?

If your boss won’t let your audience get to know you (and you them), then maybe it’s time to find a new job with a broadcaster who wants to be more than a lowest common denominator version of Pandora.

Fundamentally, radio personalities and the folks who hire you need to recognize that your job is not to spin tunes. You are not an organic iPod, a playlist with a heart. No, no.

Here is why you exist:

  1. To be in the moment, “live” with us

  2. To tell us things we didn’t know, but are glad we do now

  3. To lift our mood

  4. To be a spokesperson for the culture that you share with us

  5. To tell stories that fascinate or move us

  6. To be a friend when we need one

  7. To be that mirror that our best friends are

  8. To anchor an experience we all share together

  9. To help make our lives better in tangible ways

  10. To make us laugh or cry or spend precious extra minutes in our driveway

  11. To inform, educate, and entertain us

  12. To be the part of our family that never lets us down

  13. To share your musical enthusiasm with us, if the brand is build on music enthusiasts

  14. To share your memories with us, if the brand is built on music with a history

  15. To reveal your soul to us and show us your humanity

  16. To know what we care about and care back

(What did I leave out?)

Note that I didn’t mention “local,” since “local” is where you are, not why it matters.

Nor did I mention service elements and time checks and telling the names of songs and all that other utilitarian stuff that is begging to be one-upped on the digital dashboard near you. All that stuff that crowds out the reasons why humans belong in front of a microphone in the first place, assuming they do.

If a new generation is to awaken to the magic of that voice in the air, it will be for these reasons.

Not because that voice talks for seven seconds or less.

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