As we begin a New Year, I wanted to share some truths for on air performers in 2019. These are my beliefs. You may not agree with me and that’s fine. I think the most important thing is that we get the chance to stop, think and debate what needs to happen this year in order for us – and our industry – to be better than we were last year. Reflection is the key to learning; these are the thoughts that resonate most deeply with me as I reflect on what talent should be thinking about this year.
Here are my 15 truths for talent. In no particular order…
1. Bits are out. Conversations are in. The pendulum has swung and your priority should be to create interesting conversations that pique audience interest. Games and staged features are mostly noise.
2. Interesting is more important than funny. Interesting makes you multi-dimensional. Trying to be funny makes you one-dimensional.
3. However… nothing is more important than being fun. Find me one person in the world who doesn’t want more fun and levity in their life.
4. Authenticity requires you to deeply think about your reactions to life and the world we live in so you can share those reactions with others. It’s hard to be authentic; it’s easy to be a performer. Choose the harder route.
5. Preparation should be more about ‘how’ than ‘what’. Spend less time thinking about what you’re going to do during the show (filling the breaks) and spend more time considering how your thoughts, ideas and commentary will be shared. Stand up comedians rehearse their material over and over again. They craft the wording, the delivery, the timing. On air talent need to be just as diligent.
6. The audience wants to reach you wherever they want, whenever they like. Be accessible and engaged across all channels. It’s no longer about doing a show; it’s about being a personality. Your audience doesn’t see talent as a Radio DJ, a TV host or a YouTube star… they see only personalities.
7. Being mean is the new irrelevant. No one likes an asshole, and today no one tolerates it.
8. The audience can get all the information they seek pretty much anywhere and they can get it whenever they need/want it. Your job is not to give information, but to make the information matter.
9. Work with, not against, the business when it comes to new revenue streams. Branded content, endorsements, influencer campaigns etc. they’ll all be the norm.
10. Measurements do matter. Our measurements are ratings. Stop the griping and work hard to gain more. Someone always wins – they have to – make sure it’s you.
11. Experience doesn’t mean s*@t if you have a closed mind. Your skills will actually stagnate or begin to decline if you’re not learning. However, experience can be a competitive advantage if you stay open to new possibilities and keep evolving.
12. There is no substitute for effort. To be the best it takes more effort than most people can even imagine. It takes exhausting effort.
13. Technology is not taking your job. You’re giving your job to technology. Technology allows us to do things differently – that’s a good thing. However, computers and robots can’t replicate emotion. Radio is about humans connecting. Don’t make it easy to be replaced by technology. Connect. Connect. Connect.
14. Not all talent is destined for mornings. We need to be more honest with ourselves and programmers need to be more honest with their talent. Some people are exceptional music personalities that can win large audiences in afternoon drive (or middays or evenings), but that doesn’t mean that they will be the right choice for mornings. We are burning through (and burning out) talent by not playing them to their strengths.
15. Feedback is essential for growth. We learn and we grow through feedback. Remember, you need more feedback than you are getting. Ask for more. (I’m happy to help by the way).
As we get set for another great year creating meaningful content ask yourself, “What do you want to be true about your performance this year?” I wish you a truly successful year!
Paul Kaye is VP, Product and Talent for Rogers Radio responsible for leading programming strategy, content and talent development, research and brand integration across the companies 56 stations.
Prior to being at Rogers Paul held the role of National Talent Development Director for Newcap Radio and also a group programming role in England. Paul is a certified coach and is passionate about helping individuals, teams and organizations find their greatest potential, which is the fuel behind his other work at The Talent Lab. Paul now lives in beautiful Vancouver but also spends a lot of time in airports!