What radio talent can learn from The Boss


One of the first albums I ever purchased, at the age of 15, was ‘Born to Run’. Later, I once went to five nights of Bruce Springsteen shows in a row at Sydney's Entertainment Centre.  And, during his current tour, I’ll see Bruce play in Sydney, Hunter Valley and Auckland. So, yes, I’ve been a long time fan of Bruce Springsteen.

The amazing success of last year’s 'Wrecking Ball' tour paved the way for  Bruce to return this year with the 'High Hopes' tour. The tour has had record attendances, brilliant reviews, and admiring fans raving about the shows – some describing his as ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’.

It led me to think 'What can radio talent learn from Bruce Springsteen'?

Well, there are quite a few things that we can take from his success…

Always Provoke Emotions – Power, Thought and Feeling

Bruce's music and shows have always wielded power, provoked thought and feeling, and have been deeply emotional. Does your show have power? Does it provoke thought and feeling? Does it have an emotional connection with the listeners?

Always Be Authentic

Bruce is authentic. His music and his shows are true to his upbringing, his environment, his life and his character. Can you say the same about yourself, in your on-air (or off-air) role?

Always Think About the Long Term

Bruce's career has had longevity – are you working towards a long career? Bruce started playing live in the late 60s and got his first record deal in 1972. He’s now 64, has just released his 18th album, and is at the top of his game on this Australian Tour.

Always Be Topical

His shows have a topical angle. Often it's political, sometimes a current news event. On his Aussie tour he’s covered songs by INXS coming off the back of last week’s highly successful INXS TV special. And he's even swilled a beer on stage – perfect for the Australian audience, although Bruce is a well known teetotaler.

Always Make the Audience the Star

Every night Bruce pulls someone out of the audience and brings them up on stage. He makes them the star. Are you involving your audience enough, are you making them the star of your show?

Always Be Local

Bruce localises. He changes his set to include covers from local Australian artists like The Saints, The Easybeats, and INXS. Are you localising your show enough?

Always Be Fresh

Bruce changes his set list constantly. This tour he’s doing complete renditions of albums like Born To Run and Born in the USA. His shows are always full of unexpected surprises. Are yours?

Always Give More

Springsteen gives his fans value for money. He could easily do the standard 90 minute set but instead plays for a marathon 3 hours plus. Are you giving your audience / listeners value?

Always Work on Your Craft

Bruce clearly works hard at his craft – songwriting, guitar playing and singing. He must practice his craft constantly – even though he’s five decades into his career. Are you practising your craft – storytelling, editing, writing etc.?

Always Tell a Great Story

Bruce tells a great story. He tells stories in his songs and in his stage monologues about his life and himself. He gives the audience insight into his thoughts and feelings and his life. How is your storytelling?

Always Be Physically ‘Match Fit’

He's fit and healthy – you can’t embark on tours and do shows of this magnitude at the age of 64 unless you are fit and healthy. Bruce has a regime to ensure he stays 'match fit'. The same applies to the intense environment of radio.

Always Do Your Greatest Show On Earth

The Greatest Show on earth – no doubt Bruce works hard to make sure his show is the greatest show on earth and does what it takes to make sure it is. Do you?

Always Have Fun

After all the preparation and hard work, Bruce and his band have a lot of fun on stage. They clearly love every minute of it. They are well rehearsed and so can ‘go for it’ and have fun once on stage. Are you having fun on air?

Always Be The Boss

Bruce is ‘The Boss’. He's the boss of his career. And he’s the boss of his shows. Are you the Boss of yours?


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


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