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Five Tips to Make You A Better On-Air Talent

by Buzz Knight

We hear it all the time about radio. It's what we do between the records that make us stand out when being compared to local newspaper or local TV or Pandora, Slacker, the iPod. If you sound like you're reading a meaningless liner card just so you can finish voicetracking and get back home to feed the dog, the audience will not be fooled. If you put your heart and soul into every shift and every break every day of your working life, the listeners will consider you a companion. We asked Greater Media VP for Program Development to lay it out for us. How can on-air talent be the best? Here are 5 of Knight's recommendations.

1) Love your city!
Great on-air talent figures out how to live and breathe the pulse of their local market. They have a tremendous love for all that their community stands for. In addition, successful talent knows all of the local characters, the celebrities and the clients. They know every nook of the market including the most obscure pieces. They wear it on their sleeves and take personal responsibility in being a steward of the market. Loving your city as an on-air talent makes you exude the passion that's needed to connect with your audience.

2) Be a sponge for information that your audience is interested in.
Develop a profile with the help of your instinct and with qualitative information in term of what makes your audience tick. Constantly work toward expanding that knowledge and keeping it fresh. Stay ahead of the pop culture elements that your audience is interested in and keep tabs on what your audience really could care less about. Sometimes the things to eliminate and avoid are just as important as the topics to include.

3) Prepare for your next show 24/7.
Even when you're not officially doing show prep, you should be thinking about what is going on around you that can be incorporated in your show. Have your "content sensors" on at all times so you can take advantage of an opportunity to make a part of your show. The more you observe, the more you can bring to the table for your audience.

Read all of the time! No not just USA Today or your local paper, but also magazines, blogs, tweats everything! Soak all of it up! Become a trend sociologist regarding your audience# Know what they are thinking!

4) Have constant empathy, understanding and appreciation for what your listeners are going thru in your market.
Taking stock on a regular basis will help you prepare content that not only has the proper filter, but the proper trigger to resonate with the marketplace. The moment you lose that empathy, understanding and appreciation your audience will sniff it out and read right thru it# Answer your listeners’ comments, critiques and ideas about your show directly. They will value you even higher when you stay in contact with them and are consistent with your communication.

5) Don't be afraid to re-evaluate and re-invent your show and your persona.
At the very least, every year hold your show and its success and failure up to a microscope. Take time to evaluate everything and decide what can be better. In today's radio world, talent has the equivalent of "game film" to look at in the form of Media Monitors audience reaction data. Put on your thick skin and don't be afraid to look at it. By improving your understanding of how your audience behaves you'll improve your performance.

6) Bonus

You're in show business ....not digging a ditch.
You're audience comes to you to be entertained and informed!
Put the show back in show business!

Buzz Knight is the Vice President of Program Development for Greater Media, Inc# he can be reached at

In his role Knight is responsible for overseeing programming development for all of the Greater Media properties and collaborating with the individual programming teams to build winning content and brand management strategies. Knight has been with Greater Media since February 2002. Prior to that, he worked as Program Director at several stations including: CBS Boston based classic rock WZLX, Saga Communications rock WNOR in Norfolk and Great American’s Active Rock WLVQ in Columbus, Ohio. In addition, Mr. Knight spent 3 years on air as part of the legendary WNEW-FM in New York City. He launched his broadcasting career at WRKI in Fairfield County, Connecticut after graduating from the University of Dayton.

Knight was named among “Best Programmers” by Radio Ink Magazine in 2007 and 2010. He has served on the programming subcommittee of the National Association of Broadcasters(NAB) and is currently a member of the Arbitron Radio Advisory Council and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) COLRAM Committee.

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