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Tracy Johnson “What Christian Stations Are Missing..”

What Christian Stations Are Missing About Personality Performance

It’s easy to find exciting things to talk about on the air. Topics, ideas, and content are everywhere. The difficult part is performing talk breaks so they mean something to listeners, yet many Christian stations suppress personality. 

I’ve heard many reasons for it, including: 

 

* We don’t want to sound boastful or arrogant. 

* It’s not about the personality. It’s about the music and the message. 

* Listeners tune in to be put into a mood, and too much talk disrupts the mood. 

The manager at one Christian station (I chose not to work with them) told me the personalities were only there to raise money and increase donations. That type of thinking is a one-way path to disaster.

There’s some truth in each of those statements, but personalities are only a problem when they have nothing to say. Most talents at Christian stations should be coached to be bolder, not less. They should make deeper connections by revealing their character traits, not hiding in the background, and they should provoke stronger reactions that build a larger and more loyal fan base by learning to personalize talk breaks.

 

Personalize Talk Breaks

I coach personalities to turn ordinary topics into colorful stories by changing how they prep. Most are great at identifying what to talk about, but they don’t know how to talk about it in a personal way without sounding self-absorbed. That’s an art.

Unique personalities verbalize stories that could only be told by them. 

The first step is to train your brain to find emotional word pictures in the source. Then, retell your story using only the details you absolutely need to make your word picture come alive. 

Here’s how to do it:

Study the content. Identify the most interesting angles. Let your mind wander and write down as many as you can. 

Form a mental picture for each angle. Some can be developed, but others may go nowhere. That’s okay. Move on. There are many other options. In this case, the show focused on how it’s possible to be “blown out of your shoes.”

Identify the one that interests you most. It’s hard to tell a great story if you aren’t invested in it. 

Discard the original story. Once the picture is identified, the original story is no longer a factor. Get rid of it. It will only distract you. 

Retell the story in your own words. Focus only on your story and fill it with colorful details that fit (not from the original story). The goal is to engage the audience, not inform them. 

 

An Example

Here’s an example, with an idea from Radio Content Pro Spirit, the new service for Christian stations that leverages the power of AI to inspire creativity: 

Original Story: 

Beth Knight, in her article dated February 29, 2024, reflects on the power of the simple prayer “Lord, help me,” inspired by her son’s own call for divine assistance. She resonates with this heartfelt plea, acknowledging the desperation and dependence on God it represents. Knight draws on Psalm 121 to provide reassurance that God, the Maker of heaven and earth, is the source of help, guiding and protecting His people through life’s challenges.

Ancient Israelites sang Psalm 121 as they traveled to Jerusalem, a reminder of their reliance on God rather than their surroundings or final destination. This psalm underscores several assurances: that God will prevent their missteps, protect them persistently, and watch over them ceaselessly. Knight invites readers to express their own reliance on the Lord in life’s overwhelming moments through the phrase “Lord, help me.” Whether shouted boldly or whispered softly, this prayer admits human inadequacy while recognizing divine sovereignty.

Angle/Word Picture/Potential Stories: 

When was the last time you were at the end of your rope and didn’t have the words to pray? Nothing would come. What did you do? Did you skip prayer and fight it on your own? Here’s a prayer power tip for you. Get to a quiet place, then talk to God with a three word prayer. Say, “Lord, help me.” Then listen. You can say it loudly or whisper it. Chances are, the words will start to flow as God speaks to you. You can even sing it if you want, the way the Israelites sang Psalm 121 as they traveled to Jerusalem. Isn’t that better than launching into a rant on Facebook or Next Door?  ‘Lord, help me’ feels like hitting the spiritual pause button — or maybe the panic button, but with more grace.

Do you notice that your story doesn’t even refer to the original source? That’s the point. You’re making it personal. To take this example one step further, add an invitation to your audience:

What problem do you need help with? What would it be? Here’s my number. Let’s talk about it. 

Note: For details on how to get Radio Content Pro Spirit for your station, go to https://radiocontentpro.com/products/rcp-spirit/ 


Getting Started

Learning to personalize content is tricky and can be frustrating. Many personalities work on this for months or years before figuring out how to make it work. Don’t try to do it all at once. Start slowly with ordinary, everyday content. You can personalize any content to make it more interesting.

Here’s how to energize an ordinary weather forecast:

Well, you could have waited to stock up on the SPF 50. Nothing but clouds and rain this weekend, which means a date with popcorn, Mr. Toodles the cat, and Netflix. Sign me up! 

Here’s how to do it with a song intro:

Thanks for listening to WXXX…and that means you, Lauren from Springfield. SHe has to be the coolest mom. She and her 8th grade daughter Lindsay are off on a Girls Day Out today…the spa, lunch, and shopping. And on a school day. Have fun, ladies, and Lindsay, good luck on that science test Monday! Here’s that Matthew West song you wanted to get your adventure started. 

Personalizing content can be about someone else’s story! 

 

Conclusion

The more you do it, the easier it gets, and it won’t be long before every break becomes more personal and engaging. Try it by investing a few extra minutes with a couple of breaks each day. You’ll soon discover you’re more creative than you thought.


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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