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Tracy Johnson
9 Reasons To Love With Air Personalities
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Working with air talent is one of the most rewarding and exciting things I’ve ever done, and I have had the privilege to meet and work with some of the most interesting people you could possibly meet. As a talent coach, it’s a privilege to sort through the challenges in so many formats and markets. Here are 9 reasons I love air personalities.

[tweet_box design=”box_09″]Here are just 9 reasons Tracy Johnson loves air personalities.[/tweet_box]

They Throw Talent Fits

Talent is typically volatile and their personality causes them to be excitable. When they throw a talent fit, it’s fun, comes from a place of passion (and insecurity) and usually passes pretty quickly.

It’s also healthy. When They keep things bottled up, it’s like a volcano. When the pressure gets too high, they blow up! Much better to have it happen in short outbursts.

If you’re a PD, take a deep breath, step back and don’t over-react. Chances are it’ll be better tomorrow and you’ll laugh about it together. If not, fix it then.

When They Discover Something New

When personalities find a new way to connect to their audience, it’s better than a new flavor of ice cream or a new toy.

It’s even more fun when it’s something they’ve been working on for awhile, and the light suddenly comes on. That’s when they run into your office and excitedly tell you that they “figured something out”. Then they proceed to explain their discovery. And you realize it’s exactly what you’ve been telling them for weeks. Almost word for word.

Don’t compete for credit. Everyone learns at their own pace and in their own time. When they discover it for themselves, it sticks! Don’t deflate that excitement by trying to take way their glory!

Their Ego…and Their Fear

They can’t win without both. On Wall Street, they say stocks are driven by greed and fear. This is kind of like that.

Great personalities are driven by a deep desire to be popular and famous. I love hearing them talk about themselves. That ego needs to be fed, but also must be managed.

But they’re also fearful. They need to be supported and understood.

Both of these things take time and patience. The most important thing a PD can do is develop a trusted relationship. Do that, and the difficult discussions that arise from ego and fear are much easier.


It’s a childlike enthusiasm. Some call it immaturity. I call it a fun, youthful, charming and curious way of looking at the world.

Never, ever, ever suppress it. But you do need to direct it, focus it and help them channel it through their personality brand. Let them play. Just make sure they’re playing in the yard!


Great talent lays it out there every day. This is a hard job. And the really good ones reveal things about their personal lives that causes them to be  vulnerable.

None of us like to be criticized, and when talent gets a complaint, it’s personal. That’s why they’re highly sensitive.

They need to know their talent coach/PD is a fan and has their back. Psychologists say it takes 9 compliments to offset one criticism. That’s a good model for working with personalities.

Testing Authority

They’ll challenge the boundaries and guidelines regularly. You set the talk breaks at 90 seconds, and in a week or two, they’re pushing two minutes. Then 2:30.

They’re not deliberately violating your rules, but are probably testing you. You know that, don’t you? Don’t take it personally, and consistently restate the things that are important to your brand. And, it helps to provide reasons why.

Work Ethic

Everyone thinks they’re lazy. After all, they only “work” 3-4 hours a day. But a lot more goes into it, even when most don’t recognize it. Really? The morning show gets up at 3am, usually is fully engaged until 1 or 2pm, then constantly thinks about the show and prep for tomorrow until their appearance that night.

Then they do it all over again. This is a hard job. Saying air talent is lazy is like saying an NFL player only works 16 days a year.


I love when they give their feedback on programming. It shows they’re engaged in the brand. Their ideas aren’t always valid, but usually there’s some genius in it that can make the entire station come alive. But you have to nurture it.

Most personalities seem to hate rules, formats and discipline, but get them talking about the station, and you realize how much they understand. And how much they can help you.

The Escape

Isn’t it great that they can’t wait to get out of the station when the show’s over, but can’t wait to come back in the next day and perform all over again?

That’s contagious.


Personalities make radio come alive.. Unfortunately, there just aren’t enough true personalities. There are a lot of announcers. Announcers aren’t nearly as much fun to work with. They work shifts, but don’t perform shows.

Maybe I love personalities because they are rare. Or maybe they’re rare because we’ve programmed the personality out of the talent.

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