Tommy Kramer Tip #16 – PERFORMANCE is King

The articles are everywhere, every radio convention has a session on it, and the thought is drilled into every air talent’s head: Content is King.

But that’s not true. While Content is a huge factor in your success, it’s only half of the equation. PERFORMANCE is King. If you give the script of The Odd Couple to inferior actors, it won’t work. The best Content in the world won’t matter if you can’t get it across to the listener in a way that stands out against all the puking, quacking, promoting, and hiding behind empty liners across the dial.

Here’s something you might have noticed – almost all jocks with musical skills turn out to be pretty good on the air. The timing it takes to play an instrument well, to fit into an arrangement with punctuation at the right time, and the diligence it takes to refine raw skills are all strong qualities that make for strong air talents.

The other side of the coin is that “Club deejays” make horrible air talents, because they’re about screeching to a house full of drunks OVER the music. They’re not voice actors; they’re just people on the street corner trying to get attention.

While you may not be a musician, there’s a fast track to gaining those elements of timing and patience.

In music radio, simply fit the song. Match its mood and tempo with your delivery. “Up” song, “up” delivery. Soft song, soft delivery.

Sometimes the best influences in creating great radio can best be learned through a different medium. That’s why in Talk Radio, I recommend renting The Music Man and noticing how the dialogue unfolds with a certain rhythm. Each line spoken (or sung) by each character or group of characters in the movie defines the era it’s set in, the general spirit of the film, and the collective rhythm of the mythical town of River City. You remember lines from the movie, or lyrics from the songs in it, because of that rhythm. Paul Harvey had his rhythm, Rush Limbaugh has his, and you have yours. But if we’re not already hearing it on the air, you’ll have to look for it, find it, and sharpen it. COMPEL people to listen by having your performance draw people toward the sound of it. It’s equal parts your voice, the construction of each break or segment, and your pace.

A great performer can make average material sound really good. But if on top of those performance skills, you add great Content, you’ll have a fine career.

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Tommy Kramer
Radio Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2013 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.