The Rules of Radio Part One
These Rules of Radio are my rules of radio, things that I’ve learned during my career in radio broadcasting. Maybe you’ve realized the same truths in your career, or, perhaps there is something here you can learn from if you are early in your career. My hope is that you can pick what works for you and leave the rest.
Rule of Radio #1-You must have skin that is as thick as a 1958 Buick.
Face it, you are in a performance art. Radio is theater of the mind and being on the air, you are the script writer, director and actor. As a result, your work is subject to criticism. It may come in the form of your Program Director going over your aircheck or your talent coach giving you feedback on your performance. It can also come in the form of an e-mail from a listener or your competition, whether that competition is in-house or on the radio dial from someone you are competitive with in your day part.
You can not crumble in the face of this evaluation.
Most of it is given in the spirit of helping you to be better and you need to receive it that way. Your Program Director and/or Talent Coach mean the best for you and want you to be better. You can call it “tough love”. Comments and hard truths that are given to you in order to improve your performance.
Maybe you got an email from a listener who has a disagreement with something you said on the air. Perhaps the writer doesn’t like the tone of your voice or thinks you talk too long or too short. Absorb what is being communicated to you and evaluate whether there is some validity to it or not. This is where your attitude is vital: you can either be offended and hurt; or use any criticism as a learning tool to get better.
Then, let it fall away from you, like water on a duck’s back.
Rule of Radio #2-What comes out of the speaker is paramount to anything else.
What you are doing on the air is more important than food, the bathroom, coffee; or anything else.
Too many times I’ve witnessed an on-air personality miss a break because they were eating, getting coffee or going to the bathroom or on the phone with a conversation that had nothing to do with the show that is in progress.
It’s not like “phoning it in”, it’s more like “phubbing”. Phubbing is when you are on your phone texting or reading a social media feed while ignoring the person you are with, who is in the room or in the car with you. Your listener can pick up on this, so keep your focus on your show.
Rule of Radio # 3-The show ain’t over until it’s over.
One of the easiest things to do when you are getting to the end of your show is to just do something easy, get it over with so you can leave the studio and go on to whatever it is you have planned. I know, because I am guilty of this and maybe you are as well. You just do a liner instead of running a phone call or building a break that leaves your listener wanting to hear more.
Keep your standard high until the show is over.
Rule of Radio #4-It ain’t ever over.
Nope! You just finished four hours of great radio. But hey, you get to do it again tomorrow and that show prep starts right now! Some Consultants, Talent Coaches and Program Directors will tell you that “life is show prep”, and they are right! Keep track of everything you are experiencing and get ready to share it on the air.
Johnny Stone is the afternoon show host along with his wife, Stacey, at WGTS 91.9 in Washington, D.C. Also owner of StoneStudiosLLC which produces a weekly two hour show for Country radio stations and various other production needs for radio and television stations.
Contact Johnny at firstname.lastname@example.org