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Tracy Johnson “Stay Out Of The Rut..”

Stay Out Of The Rut: How Personalities Can Keep Performances Fresh

Personalities naturally fall into patterns over time. When you find a formula that works, repeating it becomes second nature. On one hand, the familiarity adds a sense of subtle comfort for the audience and confidence in your performance. But it can result in a sense of sameness that doesn’t generate as much excitement as it could or should. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep performances fresh.


These performance-enhancing methods add variety to your routine and can be valuable for cutting through the clutter and engaging your audience to respond more actively.

How to Keep Performances Fresh

The most common method of launching a topic on many Christian stations is:

Set it up with an interesting good-news or human interest story.

Add to the story with a personal anecdote or observation. 

Invite listeners or ask/beg for calls to tell their story.

This is repeated over and over on Christian radio. The result is a seemingly endless string of callers with stories the rest of the audience may or may not find interesting. 

Let’s get more creative. Here are a variety of ways to engage the audience:


Cheat Codes To Structure On-Air Performance 

Issue A Challenge: Make a statement that there is no way anyone listening ______, then let the audience prove you’re wrong (they love this). As calls come in with stories, react with surprise and astonishment! Example: “There’s no way anyone can honestly claim they have been to every Sunday morning church service in the same church … every week … for more than a decade.” 

Make a Claim: State something as if it were a fact, but it’s just an opinion. Claim that everyone will agree, but leave the door open for listeners to change your mind. Example: “

Is Anyone Listening Who: This is similar to a challenge but wrapped in a compelling feature. Ask if anyone is listening who fits the description of what you want. Example: “I want to talk to someone who has never missed church on Sunday for over 25 years.” 

Book Of Records: Set a topic and ask listeners for the most extreme story that fits the description. Example: “Who has been to church every week…not missing a single service…for the longest? You’re my hero and deserve to be honored in our Book of Records.” 

The Dilemma: Set up a problem and respond to a potential real-life situation. Example: “My wife and I are going on vacation in Europe for three weeks, and she is now trying to change the flights because she doesn’t want to break her personal record for not missing church on Sunday for over five years. If we change the flights now, it’ll cost us an extra $1,200 we don’t have, and I can’t talk her out of it.” 

Settle a Dispute: Present two sides of an argument (usually from two cast members), and use the Five Calls Says It All technique to provide the answer. “What do you think: Is the act of worshiping in church each week just to put in an appearance important? Or is personal worship at home okay when you don’t feel like being around the congregation?” 


More Techniques

Here are a couple more ways to engage the audience and attract a greater reaction. 

Get Something Wrong: Listeners love correcting personalities, so get a fact or two incorrect and let the audience come after you. 

Leave Something Out: This is a famous trick for talk shows. Make a claim, but don’t support the details. The audience will fill in the gaps. 

Listener Introduces Topic: Set up a ringer or voice-actor to call and tell your show about a story they “heard” and ask if you know anything about it. 



Do you see how applying a technique can turn an ordinary topic into something extraordinary? Keep performances fresh by changing the rhythm and flow of your show. You probably won’t be great at all of these ideas, but try to master a handful of them for your performance toolbox. Changing the pattern will be more attractive to the audience and more interesting for you.


Recognized as one of the world’s best talent coaches and consultants, Tracy has been a creative inspiration to thousands of talented radio personalities and programmers to attract, retain, and lead a passionate fan base. He’s also been instrumental in developing Radio Content Pro Spirit, which leverages the power of AI to inspire creativity on-air, online, and on social media for Christian Radio. Reach Tracy at tracy@tjohnsonmediagroup.com

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