In 1959*, Lloyd Price released the song “Personality.”
It was about a girl and what made her special.
Here’s a sample:
‘Cause you got personality
Walk, with personality
Talk, with personality
Smile, with personality
Charm, with personality
Love, with personality
With the exception of a daypart or two, it’s what most radio lacks today – PERSONALITY.
Every Saturday, Rewound Radio, a streaming-only radio station features its “DJ Hall of Fame.” They are air checks of some of America’s best radio personalities, like Dan Ingram, Ron Lundy, Robert W. Morgan, Charlie Tuna, The Real Don Steele and so many more. While everyone of the personalities I just mentioned are now in radio heaven, their recorded radio shows sound as vibrant and exciting as ever. That’s why people from all over the globe dial in to hear them, and not just radio people, radio listeners who grew up with them.
People like me.
So, it wasn’t really a surprise when Fred Jacobs gave us a sneak preview of his latest research on why people listen to over-the-air (OTA) radio.
People today listen to OTA radio for the very same reason that they always have, to hear their favorite radio personality. The unfortunate thing is, the radio industry talks the talk, but doesn’t really walk the talk.
Radio’s ultimate strength as a medium is dependent
on the power and popularity of its personalities.
When I walk the boardwalks in New Jersey, Delaware or Maryland in the summertime, you can’t help but be very aware of how important it is for each club to have a popular DJ. Club DJs get people dancing, having fun and spending their money in that particular club for hours.
The longer club patrons stay, the more money club owners make.
The reality is the role of a Club DJ could be easily automated and the music would be non-stop, but it is the special magic a live personality delivers that makes all the difference. Great performers make people feel things. They deliver an emotional experience that can’t be duplicated by automation.
“People are always neglecting something they can do
in trying to do something they can’t do.”
-Edgar Watson Howe
Living in a VUCA World
The world today is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous; it’s a VUCA existence. Many businesses are told they must innovate or die.
In radio’s race to stay relevant, it tries to compete with streaming audio services, where at best it can only be second best when it plays on their terms. What OTA radio should be heavily investing in is the development and promotion of outstanding, compelling, relatable radio talent.
“Treat talent with respect.
They are the reason radio remains so important.”
Sue & I love watching Family Feud with Steve Harvey. This TV game show debuted on ABC on July 12, 1976 with host Richard Dawson. It would be broadcast for nine years before the network pulled the plug, but would continue to air periodically over the following decades. The show has had six hosts, but only its original host and the current host have seen the show be an audience hit.
In fact, it was when Steve Harvey took over as host in 2010, that Family Feud was finally resuscitated. His hosting abilities with his stand-up comedy and radio background has the audience always wondering what he will say next and almost always producing laugh-out-loud moments on the game show. It also doesn’t hurt that Steve Harvey is as nice as he seems. Being genuine is always an asset in the media world.
I said there were six hosts of this show over the years, Richard Dawson was the first and Steve Harvey is the current host, but you probably can’t name the other four without looking it up on Google. And that’s my point.
Personalities are the difference maker.
Radio leaders talk a good game when it comes to telling us how important local talent is to the power of great radio, but it’s time they put their investment monies where their mouths are, by hiring and training the next generation of radio performers.
It’s time for the radio industry to focus on a change that matters.