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Replacing A Show Player


 Right now, "American Idol" is scrambling to fill the judges' chairs. "X Factor" went through the process last year, as did "America’s Got Talent." And there will come a time when a key player of your show leaves and you have to replace them.

We have worked with managers who tried the copycat approach. One PD replaced a successful talent with a talent that sounded exactly like him vocally (but with a significantly less-interesting personality). He added two more songs an hour and hoped no one would notice. Another manager hired a carbon copy of the co-host – young, single, party guy – that couldn’t help but be compared (negatively) to the original, more well-known, well-liked personality.

These managers were trying to maintain the station’s momentum by attempting to keep the show as consistent as possible to minimize the shock for the audience.

Keep in mind that when you are replacing a player, it’s like casting a sitcom. If you are replacing a player, look for a different type of character altogether.

"Idol" replaced Simon Cowell (the judge people loved to hate) with Steven Tyler (the nutty and compassionate rock star). "AGT" replaced the rigid Piers Morgan with Howard Stern. Less successfully, but to the same point, "Two and a Half Men" didn’t cast another free-wheeling hedonist like Charlie. They created a hopeless romantic billionaire.

When you are adding a player, consider what void might exist on the show currently.

Kidd Kraddick added players to fill the void on the show, which was the young/single/dating perspective. Often rock shows add a “fantasy girl” that tickles their listeners’ imagination.

And this may go against the previous few paragraphs, but as a general rule, “funny” trumps everything. Throw casting out the window if you find a genuine character that is funny and entertaining, even if on paper it doesn’t make sense.
Just don't expect them to be able to anchor a feature or information segment if they have limited radio experience. Regardless, listeners look for an escape in the morning and if you can make them laugh, you have done your job.

Angela Perelli is a SVP at the The Randy Lane Company ( She can be reached at

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