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Tracy Johnson
Air Personalities: Name Tag Yourself More Effectively!
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When at an event with strangers, it helps if everyone wears a name tag. Knowing a name brings strangers just a little closer together. It’s the first step to getting to know someone. The same thing happens in the relationship between radio personalities and listeners. That’s why name tagging is so important.

This seems like a minor thing, but it can be the difference between your listener feeling connected to a show and feeling distanced. From research, we know the biggest cause of tune out is listener confusion. And a major cause of confusion is when they “don’t know the people on the air.”

But it’s a really easy for personalities to overlook or forget the fact that listeners don’t know all of the personalities.

One of the problems is that there are even managers and PD’s who think air talent is so insignificant, they should not say their names.

They couldn’t be more wrong. However, there’s an art to doing it without sounding self-indulgent.

How to Name Tag on Multi-Personality Shows

On a multi-person show, it’s important to learn to use each other’s names often in banter and conversation. This applies to show contributors as well as the main hosts and co-hosts. It’s particularly important for shows with more than 2 or 3 characters to balance.

There are two important reasons for this:


Listeners don’t even know you or your partners. You may think they do. Or wish they do. But they don’t.

Using names in conversation helps the audience get to know you.

This is particularly important if there are multiple personalities of the same gender on the show (two women, two guys, etc.). No matter how distinct you think they are, listeners often can’t tell the difference or sort it out.

When you think about it, it’s not only good for you, it’s just being polite to the audience.


When you refer to one another on the air as “you” rather than by name, the audience is  unintentionally excluded.

It comes off as a closed conversation that doesn’t involve them. They feel like outsiders in a private conversation that they’re not a part of. But when you name tag the co-hosts, it sounds like you’re in it with the listener.

Instead of saying,

You saw that movie premiere over the weekend…how was it?

Just name tag it. Change it slightly to:

Nicki had a wild weekend, including a strange thing that happened at the movie premiere Friday night. What happened, Nicki?

Some personalities tell me this feels awkward at first, and I’m sure it does. It’s not how you’d normally speak to one another informally. It feels odd because you’re looking at one another in the room. To you, it’s obvious who you’re speaking with.

But listeners can’t see you. The audience is blind. That’s part of communicating with the conscience of the listener.

Practice it a few time. It becomes natural, and sounds great!

A Popular Name Tagging Technique

Many times, personalities start to name tag, and make a focused effort to do it as the break begins. That’s a good start, but it’s not enough.

Be conscious of doing it as often as possible in the middle of a talk break, not just when starting it. Simply inserting a name into the comment works well.

To improve in this area, practice using names in conversation off the air. Practice it in meetings, while songs are playing. Make it a part of everyday conversation. You’ll find that it makes friends and co-workers feel great!

Respond with a natural comment like,

But Holly, don’t you think….


That’s fine for you, Danny, but ….

These little additives personalize the show and help listeners feel they’re part of it. And it’s a subtle way to reinforce who’s who on the air.

Name Tag: How Often?

I was working with a highly talented morning personality, and a comment stopped me in my tracks.

They were hung up on a goal of saying their name on the air a minimum of eight times an hour. And they did it exactly the same way every single time.

Asked why, he said that since he was relatively new, the audience is just getting to know him and this is how he would be introduced.

Just rattling off a name at the beginning of a break doesn’t cause listeners to hear it. Nor does it increase familiarity. This personality was going out of their way to say his name, but it just didn’t stick.

In another market, with another station and show, I listened for an entire morning, and the show never introduced themselves at all. Not once. Yes, there was imaging (infrequent) that positioned the show by name.

But they didn’t do anything to cause unfamiliar listeners to get to know them.

I asked why, and they said that it’s not that important because the audience already knows them. They’ve been on for a long time and listeners love them.

This show was missing opportunities because they assume the audience is more aware than they are. Chances are, even long-time listeners (and perhaps even some “fans”) don’t know them that well. They weren’t identified nearly enough.

In yet another market, the General Manager and Program Director were highly involved in show execution. And they were emphatic that the emphasis of the on-air content should be on the station brand and their mission (it was a Contemporary Christian station). They didn’t want their air talent to upstage the music, the brand or the message. I get the sentiment, but they’re missing the bigger picture.

All three stations are missing the mark.

News Flash 1

Some personalities have been on the air for 20 years on the same station in the same market in the same daypart. They’ve introduced themselves by name almost every time they turn on the mic. And listeners still don’t know who they are. Nor do they care. These personalities are still in Stage 1 (introduction) of the Personality Success Path. Because they haven’t made an impact.

And the constant repetition of their name becomes part of the background noise, just like the emotionless repetition of the stations’ positioning statement at the beginning of each break.

Frequency of repetition may help a little, but the purpose of the name tag is to allow the audience to begin to get to know you. It’s more complex than making it part of the formatic presentation.

News Flash 2

Other personalities have been on for a short time, and everyone is talking about them. They’ve made an impact by becoming important to the audience.

They don’t have to constantly repeat their names, but it is still critical to introduce themselves regularly (and relatively frequently).

Until you have a 100% share of the market, someone doesn’t know you! And name tagging doesn’t get old if it’s executed properly.

Getting to know you has everything to do with making an emotional connection through relevant and relatable content delivered through a unique personality.

In other words, make your personality brand interesting enough to be worth getting to know. That can take a long, long time, but effective name tagging can help speed the process.

News Flash 3

The audience is far more attracted to real, live human beings (personalities) than a collection of songs, contests and promos on the air.

Air talent is vital, and management that tries to suppress their popularity is doing their station a disservice.

I’ve never seen a great radio station without great talent. The more popular the show, the greater your station.

How To Name Tag Solo Shows

On solo shows, things are a little different. You’re all alone, and it can be hard to work your name into a break naturally.

Often the result sounds like you’re stuck on yourself. Or, you rattle it off so fast, the listeners don’t really hear or remember it.

On the other hand, not introducing yourself is rude on solo shows too.

Here are a couple of tips:

Use Production: Imaging and produced intros that set the stage for a talk break can relieve the pressure and repetition of saying it yourself every time.

Use Listeners: Master the art of phone call management and make sure listeners call you by name when putting them on the air. Do this while screening the call.

One-Person Conversations Be clever in how you reference yourself. For example, here’s how to work your name into a break.

Everyone is calling and texting, and they want to know one thing: Jason, how do I get those concert tickets? I’ll tell you in four minutes.


Making your personality brand famous takes time, but you can accelerate the process by showcasing your name and qualities creatively.

These are just a few tips. What other ways do you brand your name(s) on the air? Email me

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