Great Talent Matters Even More in 2014


Really great, unique, hard-working talent who make a difference are worth every cent they're paid – and there are great rewards if you do make it in radio or in other media. In particular, great breakfast talent is difficult to find and develop.

Great talent really matter, and the really great talent often earn more than the execs who hire them.

New lineups this year at 2DAY, 2UE, FOX and NOVA for instance will succeed or fail depending on the ability of the talent.

Great Talent Are Different and Unique

Great talent are the ones that offer something different and unique. They stand out and are memorable. They are relatable, authentic and importantly true to themselves. They tend to have ‘character’ as opposed to just ‘personality’. So make sure you offer up the ‘real’ you. Listeners can tell the difference!

“All announcers sound the same. The most important thing you can do is find your unique, authentic voice.”

– Craig Bruce (SCA)

If you don’t know how to go about finding your unique, authentic voice, one place to start might be to ‘Take a Walk in your Audience’s Shoes’. This can be challenging. The question goes beyond ‘what is the listener feeling and thinking and doing (while they are listening)’ – to ‘what am I feeling and thinking and doing (while I’m in their shoes)?’ How does that experience affect your perspective on what you mentally tune into, or what loses your attention? How does that affect what you choose to talk about, or how you talk about it? Whether you do standalone ‘bits’ or whether you develop strong story arcs – or even if you sometimes take an even more expansive and character-driven approach to your show.

“With the intensity of competition these days you obviously need talent to be unique and authentic and of course you need chemistry but you also need talent who have a passion for the show beyond the actual show on-air.

"You need talent who will get involved in social media and who work hard off the air to ensure what goes to air sets them apart. Finding talent like that is the challenge because it’s that commitment that makes the difference today”

– Duncan Campbell (ARN)

Great Shows Have Great On-Air Chemistry

Having the right talent combinations make or break a show…. the talent lineup needs to complement each other and their roles in the show need to be clearly defined and understood by the audience. Make sure you are working in the right team. Listeners are loyal to a radio station brand to a point, but they will become more loyal to a great on-air talent who is compelling to listen to, who gets noticed, who gets talked about and who cuts through.

“You cannot manufacture chemistry. As such a good radio team needs a few flying hours under the belt. Unfortunately you need plenty of flying hours for that, and there's usually a few accidents along the way." (more in The Brutal Truth)

– Mick Molloy

Great Talent Know Their ‘Brand’

Great talent creates the best marketing possible – word of mouth and quotability. Through on-air promotion and leveraging content a personality’s 'brand' builds and contributes to not only their own talent ‘brand’ but to a station’s overall brand image.
 And remember: at the end of the day you, the talent, are a ‘brand’.

“Every good broadcaster is wonderful in an entirely different way … I started out as the classic unlucky in love single woman and then moved through marriage, kids – all that. I left out some of the weird details that made me singular and went with the ones that had, you know, “relatability” – that word beloved of radio types … It takes some mastering. Some real humility, thoughtfulness and intelligence. And you can’t fake that.” (more in The Brutal Truth)

– Wendy Harmer

Great Talent Have the “Need to Succeed”

Having the talent is only the start. You also need to have a strong drive and desire for success – the “need to succeed”. Be willing to do what it takes, be resourceful, resilient and have a strong drive to improve.

“Desire is almost probably more important than talent.

I’ve seen it, where people have this real need to do something … they have this real need.

And they get it done”

– Al Pacino

Great Talent Are Great Communicators

Of course you also need to be expressive, love to communicate, and be dedicated to learning how to communicate well.

“The best advice I ever got on doing radio was from Wil Anderson. He once told me to imagine I was only talking to the people in the room, and one other person who I couldn’t see. That’s the audience. You’re not playing to a 1500 seat theatre, you’re talking to somebody in their car stuck in traffic. Your job isn’t to make people slap their thighs with laughter, it’s to be good company.”

(more in The Brutal Truth)

– Adam Richard

Great Talent Are The Dangerous Ones

The 'dangerous' talent are usually the most entertaining. The bad guys are the fun guys. Listeners don’t respond to or remember the 'normal' types. Their language isn’t very colourful, they don’t say much and they don’t talk with any certain sound. You need to take risks and be 'dangerous'. Don’t be the same as everyone else on air.

Your greatest challenge will be to 'expose' yourself letting the audience get to know the 'real' you. Reveal your vulnerabilities as it will help your audience feel closer to you and relate to you better.

Broadcasters are increasingly in the talent development business. They invest in your talent brand and then monetise your brand and content across a variety of platforms. It's up to networks to do more than just 'put you on the air and see what happens' but at the end of the day it's up to you to make sure you get that guidance.

You are in showbiz ! Your show is your business. Your talent brand is your business. Your content is your business. You have to do what it takes to make your show and your content great.

Importantly you won't be successful without effective direction and coaching. I’ll cover that this Friday on Radio Today.

If you want to chat more about your media career, you can email me at [email protected] or Scott Muller at [email protected]


Brad March is a former CEO of the Austereo Network and is Managing Director of Marchmedia.


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