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Lisa Miller - "How I Got Into Radio"

Whats In A Name? Its Your Brand.


There was a time when you could work for a radio station with one on-air name, then move across country or across the street, change your name, and become a completely different person. But those days are long gone. Your name is your brand, and your brand is more crucial, and more global, than ever. Station owners, GMs, and PDs are only a few clicks away from finding out everything about you -- your successes and failures, your impact or lack thereof. Like Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds, or Disney, your name defines you.

Whether you go by your given name or an airname, that name needs to carry you through your career and in a multitude of formats and platforms. So when youre considering a self-inflicted moniker like Road Kill or Garbage Can, or some identity that is identified with a specific city or weather condition, remember, you wont always be in your 20s and will need to earn a living in your 30s, 40s, and 50s. Your name is the most crucial aspect of your career. Either its memorable or its not, its inviting or its a turn-off, its hip or its passe, its marketable or you want to avoid it like a college tattoo.

If youre stuck with a name you cant shake, revisit your given name or start over in the very next market with a name youd like to see in lights. If you are entrenched in one market but still going by Scumbucket at the age of 42, and youd like to continue with a relevant career for the years you have ahead of you, consider making the change now. A less confining name will better lend itself to the advertising community, allowing greater live-read and endorsement opportunities. A name should open doors, not close them.

The same holds true for a generic name that disappears visually and audibly. A Caryn Johnson, Eileen Edwards, or Susan Weaver would share her name with thousands of others and be easy to forget. So Whoopi Goldberg, Shania Twain, and Sigourney Weaver selected names unique to their talents, more interesting in their presentation, and monikers that define them as the one and only. Ask yourself if the names Barry Pincus, Bret Sychak, and Steven Tallarico would be as memorable as Barry Manilow, Bret Michaels, and Steven Tyler.

If you have to change your name, try to use a derivation of your given name, a nickname, or initials. Try to select a name that doesnt belong to anyone else, and make it strong and impactful. Listen to the sound, say it over and over, write it a hundred times, and put it on a large poster board. Once you are sure you have your name, trademark it, own every URL available, and secure it on Facebook, Twitter, and every other social venue. Then ego surf -- sign up for Google news alerts, and make sure the articles where your name appears are positive and present you in the best light.

Now begin to brand your name. Like radio, your brand needs cume and TSL. The more people who know your name, the better your saturation, and the more people who use your name, the better your penetration. Get your name out there. Yes, print is still a viable media; where content is printed has changed, but the importance of content hasnt. Your name in conjunction with your efforts supporting a charity or community event has better cachet than being seen at a restaurant or a golf outing. Utilize your celebrity in radio to expose you and your name on other platforms. Become a feature reporter on television, write a column for the newspaper or local magazine, blog, and make your Facebook page and website a destination. With the right name and persona, you will grow your brand, your career, and, most importantly, your radio show.

Lisa Miller is the President of Miller Broadcast Management in Chicago and can be reached at  or 312-454-1111.

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