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Ace McKay “Radio’s Rhythm in Words & Pauses”

Radio hosting is an art that transcends mere communication. It is about creating an emotional connection with your audience, capturing their imagination, and holding their attention. Two iconic figures in the radio industry, and heroes to some of us, who excelled at this craft were Casey Kasem and Paul Harvey. Kasem’s words from his writers coupled with his delivery and Harvey’s masterful use of pauses provide valuable lessons for us as we strive to connect with our audience on a deeper level.


Casey Kasem was a legendary American radio personality known for his long-running shows like “American Top 40” and “Casey’s Top 40.” One of my favorite segments was from a show in 1975; Casey took us to Sunday school comparing the popularity of songs about God vs songs about the Devil. As of 75, God songs were winning but the way he used it to engage the audience, as he lead into “The Devil went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band was pure poetry. (Which the song had slipped in that week’s countdown and God songs had triumphed as of 75, in case you were wondering.)


Weaving a narrative around the music, creating a connection between the songs and the fan, as hosts, we can learn from Kasem by working on our storytelling skills, using vivid language and engaging anecdotes.


Kasem’s scripts often laced with emotion thanks to a team of amazing writers. Whether he was sharing a dedication or introducing a song, his words evoked feelings. Your show should remember the power of emotion in words as it could make your show more relatable and memorable.

Kasem’s team was also meticulous in research and preparation. This allowed him to speak confidently and knowledgeably about the songs and artists. Hosts should emulate this by investing time in research and show prep to deliver a more informed and engaging performance.


Now while dead air is frowned upon. There is power in the pause. Paul Harvey, the beloved radio broadcaster known for his “The Rest of the Story” segments, had a unique and compelling delivery style that revolved around his expert use of pauses.

Harvey’s use of pauses created a rhythmic quality in his speech that held his listeners’ attention. Hosts can learn from this by mastering pacing and timing, allowing the audience to absorb the content and anticipate what comes next.

The strategic placement of pauses allowed Harvey to emphasize key points and build suspense. What suspense or emotion are you creating in your show with a pause?


Harvey’s pauses provided clarity and allowed his audience to digest complex stories or ideas. By taking a breath and giving the audience a moment to process information, hosts can ensure their messages effectively conveyed. (Side Note: When you edit calls, remember that their pause is also equally powerful so be careful where you cut.)


The legacies of Casey Kasem and Paul Harvey continue to inspire us to elevate our craft. By integrating the art of words and scripts with the power of pauses, we can create shows that not only inform and entertain but also forge a deep connection with the audience.  So as Casey would say, “keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”

Ace is a producer, host and EWTN Affiliate Show Coach and Branding for EWTN Radio & co-host of the podcast Roxanne & Ace UNLIMITED.  Ace can be reached at acemckay@gmail.com 

One thought on “Ace McKay “Radio’s Rhythm in Words & Pauses”

  • I just sent this to a national radio program host who sometimes not only doesn’t pause, but actually deletes his breaths in order to cram in more words! Probably he isn’t doing it, but his producers, but anyway….three cheers for the Paul Harvey Pause!


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