Friday, September 16, 2011

How To Keep 'Denise' Out Of Your Life (Part 1)

I recently blogged about the new 'artificial intelligence' radio personality, 'Denise' and got lots of feedback on it.  Her creator, Dominique Garcia, has also gotten some interesting response, as you can imagine.  

The spirit of my post on Denise wasn't that a computer-generated disc jockey is the answer for anybody or that developing her was radio blaspheme but that if today's radio talent want Denise's aircheck relegated to Programmers' junk mail folder, some should probably make sure you don't sound canned, generic or like everybody else and promised some upcoming messages on easy ways to stay fresh, unique and memorable.

I guess I'm just one of those delusional Programming types who still believes in the value of our on-air talent and how you can be what distinguishes us from being just a jukebox or a Pandora.  In these days of smaller staffs and more duties, it's not uncommon to take an assembly line approach (even unintentionally), however it shouldn't be an excuse for being ordinary.  Much of what you'll see over the next several postings will seem terribly obvious to many but I'd challenge you to listen to a lot of radio in various markets and tell me that, save for a few driven, motivated stars, there's much inspired, passionate, fired-up radio going on.

SMILE, HAVE FUN AND GET INTO WHAT YOU DO! There's nothing more boring than hearing a radio personality sounding detached or uninterested.  Whether live or pre-recorded, think of some sort of 'pre-game' ritual to get fired up before your show.  Deliver your station's calls/logo and positioner with passion and enthusiasm (never just rush through it just to get to what's next).  If you don't sound pumped and interested in your listeners, they'll likely never be interested in you.

GO IN WITH A PLAN- It's been said that great radio talent is in show prep mode 24/7/365 and that makes a lot of sense.  What's the day's big buzz?  Who's saying crazy things?  What are your listeners talking about?.  It could be a hot movie or major local event, tonight's big game or some unusually great/ bad weather...there's always something.  If your listeners are talking about it, you should be talking about it.  The best talent aren't just great at talking but also at listening...hearing what's going on around you and your audience.  Prepare your breaks and how you're going to get in and get out of it so you're totally confident.  More than ever, being totally focused and concise is vital.

YOUR VOICE IS YOUR GIFT...SO IS YOUR MIND- When I got into radio as a teenager, I was worried I didn't have a good enough voice to be much and was told "it's not what voice you have but how you use it".  How true.  Examine your pacing, intensity, inflection.  And, use the great range God gave you as an artist uses different hues and colors.  The calls/logo doesn't necessarily have to sound exactly the same all the time, nor does your pacing.  Tailor your approach to the song you're presenting or coming out of.  If you just rip through breaks, they'll all tend to sound the same.  Just think of going through a fast food drive-through and how much of their introduction tends to sound like 'noise'.  Why?  Because they repeat basically the same thing the same way hundreds of times a day, smoking through it so they can take your order.  That's why many of us think, "huh???" when we hear them.  Since you're far more talented and skilled, please don't allow yourself to fall into that trap.

DITCH THE CLICHE WORDS/PHRASES:  In other words, speak your listeners' language.  "On your Tuesday", "your chance to win", "keep it here", "register to win", "by request"...many jocks say this sort of thing hour after hour, day after day, week after week, all at about the same pace, tone and intensity.  There are about a thousand ways to say nearly everything but most talent don't get much past #2 or 3.  If you have a crutch you're having a tough time breaking, one exercise is to get a legal pad and write your crutch phrase at the top; then, give yourself sixty seconds or so to jot down alternative words or phrases.  You won't even have to take that into the studio- the exercise itself will stimulate your mind and help steer you out of the ditch.

I realize a lot of these things might seem like Radio 101...basic, fundamental, obvious stuff.  Yet, as multi-tasked as you're asked to be, it's sometimes easy to just crank your show out and not put lots of thought and preparation into crafting your content so it sounds fresh, different and uniquely you.  None of us wants radio talent to become irrelevant and if we're constantly finding ways to stand out from the crowd, we'll more easily maintain our value.  Radio is, after all, the most intimate form of show business.  Are you putting on a show or just whipping through to get it out of the way.  That is our choice.

I'd love to see your thoughts and suggestions, so please click on 'comment' and share.

Next up:  part two on keeping 'Denise' unemployed.

Thanks & KEEP ROCKIN'!

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