Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Which one are you? From RJ Jordan

In my estimation, there are four types of on-air talent:

1. Amateur Andy. Amateur Andy may have worked in this business for ten years, but he sounds like he's been at it for only ten days. He's gotten a marginal to poor voice quality, has no grasp of formatics, not really gifted with the English language, probably has some sort of "local" accent. He generally rambles a lot or goes the other direction, going directly into spots without talking. There aren't as many "Andys" around anymore. You'll find them in the tiniest of markets on stations that aren't already totally on the bird. There were more "Andys" when the demand for weekend and part-time talent came close to exceeding the supply in the late 80s and early 90s. The only reason Andy ever had a job is because no one else wanted to work at his station in his market and time slot for minimum wage.

2. Liner card Larry. Larry doesn't sound bad, just bland. He doesn't have a great grasp of radio, either, but knows how to follow directions and he can read. When Larry occasionally tries to deviate from the cards, he usually falls flat on his face. Most "Larrys" are gone as well because it is so easy to replace them with voice-tracking.

3. Verbose Vern. Vern actually can be pretty talented, but some "Verns" have little or no talent. He's never taken any direction because he knows in his heart he's good. As his name describes, he talks a lot, about the things that interest only Vern, for as long as Vern feels like talking about them. There are fewer Verns today because there are fewer people around who have the time to manage Vern. Sometimes A "Vern" can be very successful in the right time slot, in the right market, on the right station, with the right management. That market won't be an Arbitron PPM market, however, because the PPM has Verns for lunch. Mostly, these days "Verns" are no longer in radio.

4. Personality Pete. Personality Pete has that rare quality of knowing the creative part of being on-air doesn't start three seconds before you open the mike. He greatly believes in show prep and realizes that observing every day life can be some of the best prep. He knows radio and understands the formatics and rules. He so well versed on the rules, that he knows that occasionally you can break those rules for a great payoff. He keeps up to date with pop culture and major headlines and incorporates them whenever they comfortably can be inserted in his breaks. He knows the market and its landmarks and towns and constantly tries to slip in local references. He knows who his target demo is and filters every thing he says we with that demo in mind. He actually answers the phone and is great at grabbing a quip clip to use in a talk-over. He writes his breaks down, then edits them to get rid of wasted words. Many times he'll actually rehearse the break before doing it live He tries to find the most colorful verbs and adjectives to make his short breaks have a punch and by doing so has a feel of unpredictability. He's not afraid of letting himself shine through from time to time and by doing so sounds like a real person. He combs the music log before his shift so he never throws away a great intro. He sounds like he is having fun, because, well he is! Sometimes Pete can be voice-tracked, but you can't tell....

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