Sharing An Off-Line Conversation

With permission, of course…

Some of my posts drive a lot of off-site, private commenting. Last week’s and yesterday’s are examples.

Tom Pagnotti, a great air talent and now super-successful Voice Talent: “It’s great to tell someone they have to be compelling — but isn’t that a bit subjective? What I find compelling may be your mere passing interest.”

“But it would seem the smaller the thing, the more universal its appeal. Look at the Facebook posts on your page that get the greatest response…they’re mostly the every-day-that-could-happen-to-me kind of stuff.”

Tom went on to share 4 Great Ways to Make Certain You’re Compelling.

Point well taken.

I understand why those who don’t know me personally, with whom I have yet to work, often think I am advocating “serious” content as the only “compelling” content. I write a lot more about highly emotional content because it is so rarely heard on radio today, not because I think everyone can — or should — produce it every day.

Here’s the thing that’s difficult to say to someone’s face (even via email): Some people just have more natural charisma than others, which is why I stopped trying to be on-air and moved behind the curtain. I am charisma-deficient.

Those who can do, and those who can’t…(insert consultant joke here).

For my tastes, the very best air talent and the very best stations are multi-dimensional. By my definition, Howard Stern and Don Imus are not on my short list, because they rarely reveal anything true about themselves. But Imus is, or at least used to be, really, really funny and fun to listen to, so my criteria wouldn’t keep me from having him as one of my car button choices.

For many, perhaps most, listeners, quick, casual humorous interaction is what they need on their way to and fro. While I could make a strong argument that even this is in sharp decline over the past 10 years, most stations, regardless of format, try to offer this now.

What is completely missing from the radio is any attempt at a deeper connection for those listeners who would love to be in love with you.

And you can’t get to that point without revealing part of yourself.

Plus, I think what we’ve all been through this past 10 years, and not just in America, has created a need for an occasional on-air hug, as long as it’s authentic, meaning a part of who that air talent naturally is, and not maudlin.

I am for the broadest definition of “entertainment” available. I see radio stations as having the capability to hit all the emotional buttons that a TV show like M*A*S*H did — including occasionally bringing me to tears.


That is what made the show irreplaceable: great characters, great writing, and the full emotional gamut of human interaction.

The over-all feel of your individual show/station can be light and funny but the occasional episode/segment/bit that strives for more is what will make it special. Especially if you have that natural gift!

Sadly, I don’t know of one commercial station even attempting that kind of connection or resonance consistently.

Steve Allan, who, not that long ago, programmed the best station I ever heard in Washington, DC (and that’s a really good radio market): “It is about emotion. Comedy, tragedy, drama — they are all emotionally compelling. The best talent knows how to find the stories and topics that ring the emotional bell and are not bound by being forced into being funny.”

“Like charisma, some people just can’t do humor. That doesn’t mean they can’t be compelling and entertaining.”