I’ve been a big fan of Bill McMahon‘s thoughts on “the authentic personality” for some time. He details what to look for when choosing radio personalities.
EAGLE, Idaho — Nothing is more important to the future of radio than finding and developing distinctive, appealing and enduring on-air personalities. Predicting a prospective air talent’s ability to attract and hold a substantial audience is far from an exact science. I know. I’ve been doing it for a living for nearly 30 years.
My “ear” and batting average for predicting success have improved greatly over time. I’ve developed an informed sense of what it takes to make it on the radio. The result of creating the Authentic Personality method, working with some of the best – Rush Limbaugh, Kidd Kraddick, Jeff of Jeff and Jer, Johnny Vaughan – and worst talent in radio as well as constantly studying gifted artists – songwriters, authors, screenwriters, and creators of TV shows.
A few years ago, a hugely frustrating experience compelled me to codify what I’d learned about evaluating talent and predicting success. I was helping a program director in a top 25 market identify hosts for a startup talk station. We settled on a lineup we really liked. Before making any hires, the COO of the radio group asked to hear each of our choices. The PD pushed play on the first demo. Ninety seconds in, I kid you not, the COO told us, “He’s not our guy.” We asked him to explain. He repeated, “He’s not our guy. Let’s move on.” Yikes!
I was determined to develop a more reasoned approach to evaluating talent. One that would go beyond a superficial and subjective reaction to an aircheck or demo. I wanted to create a framework to have a meaningful and productive conversation about why a prospective air personality will succeed or fail. This led to identifying what my experience, research, and study told me are the Fourteen Traits Inherent in the Best Radio Personalities and the primary predictors of success on the radio.
I look for the presence or absence of the Fourteen Traits in the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of the prospective personality in every contact I have with him or her – listening to live shows, airchecks, and demos as well as telephone and in-person conversations. I spend plenty of one-on-one time with each prospect comparing the personality I hear on the radio with the one I meet off-air. I frequently discover personality facets and untapped potential that isn’t being revealed or exploited on the radio.
Fourteen Traits Inherent in the Best Radio Personalities
I’ve separated the traits into three categories. Personal, content, and performance. The personal traits predict listener appeal and talent motivation. The content traits predict the ability to generate distinctive, appealing and memorable content. The performance traits predict the ability to present attractive content with impact. (Find the fourteen traits HERE.)