It’s been quite a long time since I was on the air. To be honest, I never thought I was a particularly good air talent. In fact, I would listen to my air checks and hate every single minute of it. Surprisingly, I always seemed to get good ratings and when I would meet listeners I always got positive feedback. What gives? The best I could figure, and believe me I tried to figure it out, was that I was likeable on the air—a friendly voice talking about the music, what was going on in the market, and talking up the best things about the radio station. It was a pretty simple formula. I would talk about what I thought the listeners might be interested in hearing about. I did it consistently and it worked. When I had the chance to do some talk radio shows I did the same thing with a healthy dose of opinion and sure enough I got the same results.
Today we look for entertainers, comedians, opinion firebrands, or bad boys. I can’t recall a single talent ad searching for someone the listeners will like. Of course, programmers assume that if a talent gets good ratings the listeners must like them. Don’t take that assumption to the bank just yet.
There’s a popular talk talent who I have listened to countless times; someone whose point of view I tend to agree with and someone who demonstrates a great passion for his opinions. Yet I find myself listening less and less. I have concluded I just don’t like the guy. He is missing an endearing quality that would pull me in day after day.
We’ve all heard the phrase; I love to hate that guy—a talent with whom a listener doesn’t see eye-to-eye but tunes in every day just to hear what he is going to say to make him angry. I contend, most times it’s not the anger part that is drawing him in, but the likeability factor that keeps him coming back for more.
If you had a falling out with someone who you generally liked and with someone you didn’t really care for which person would you be more likely to give another chance? Of course, it’s with someone you like. There would be little incentive to have dealings with that other person.
One of the great things about radio is our ability to paint a picture with words and connect with people one-on-one. Maybe it's a little old school to be talking about being the listeners friend, but a talented individual who can make it happen will almost always achieve success.
BTW--making friends today goes well beyond on the air and personal appearances--let's talk about blogs, podcasts, and listener interest on-line communities.