Radio station personalities are arguably the single most important differentiator for radio.
These talented individuals introduce people to favorite and new music. They share current, local and national news, play-by-play sports reporting and coverage, and updates about weather and traffic in the cities they live in. They convey the information that their listeners seek (even if they don’t know they are seeking it) in a very personal and relevant way.
These are the people that make you laugh, make you cry and have the ability to provoke 6-8 emotions in less than 3 minutes. They know their audiences. They REALLY know their audiences and they know how to have a dialogue with them. Many of these individuals share their own lives and the listener is instantaneously connected — feeling like they are part of the conversation.
While all of these personalities connect with their listeners over the air, they continue to connect with them via other social media options – like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – extending that dialogue and listener connection throughout the day. Some of these personalities have created blocks of original content through podcasts that their listeners and followers can turn to and turn on at their convenience. Podcasting allows the personality to extend their audience connection beyond a specific time and, most importantly, enables listeners to lean back and enjoy original content and programming at their convenience. As podcasting continues to explode, more and more personalities are getting in the game, such as J.J. Redick, the first current NBA player to host a podcast (DGital Media), Adam Corolla (Podcast One), actress Keshia Knight Pulliam (CBS Radio), and Jillian Michaels (iHeartMedia), just to name a few.
Radio has earned its place as the original social medium due to the highly unique relationship that radio personalities have established and continue to forge with their listeners. When comparing radio personalities to other media personalities, 6 out of 10 listeners say that radio hosts are “like a friend” whose opinions they trust. According to a study conducted by iHeartRadio, with even more ways for consumers and on-air personalities to interact, 4 out of 10 listeners feel personalities make more of an effort to foster a personal connection, making the radio experience inherently more social, particularly when compared to TV or streaming playlist services.
They are able to accomplish this because they go way beyond the superficial, and in some cases have been known to even save lives. Here are just a few of the thousands of examples of how personalities make a difference in the lives of their loyal followers every day:
- Drew Garabo, the host of Drew Garabo Live on 102.5 The Bone in St. Petersburg, Florida, typically takes calls about hot topics being discussed on his daily program. But one of those calls took an unusual turn, which led to the discovery that the woman was being physically abused by her boyfriend. Drew kept the caller on the line, and directed her to a safe place where the authorities could take over.
- Whenever something big happens in the community, radio turns off the music and becomes the people’s station. This held true across the nation as radio DJs were comforting listeners in the wake of the Charleston Church deaths. Ebro Darden, the lead morning-show host and face of Hot 97 in New York, urged his listeners not to sweep what’s happening in America under a rug and deal with the real issues, before breaking down in tears. He had no plan that morning and no script, but made it his responsibility to connect with people so they didn’t feel alone. He altered his playlists, talked to callers, tweeted with listeners and was as vulnerable as his audience.
- Hal and Brian from WBAP Morning News in Fort Worth, Texas, were broadcasting remotely from North Hills Hospital and discussing stroke symptoms on their show. A patient walked into the North Hills Emergency Room the next day and told the doctor that based on what he heard Hal and Brian discussing, he thought he might be having a stroke. Fast action by the staff at the hospital saved his life.
- Jay Towers on Detroit’s 100.3 WNIC responded immediately to recent reports of lead contamination in Flint, Michigan’s water supply by hosting the Flint Water Drive with iHeartMedia Detroit and local partner Fox 2 News. Thanks to their efforts, in just 6 hours, over 240 tons of bottled water was donated to area residents.
Personalities make a difference for brands as well. According to research, listeners equate an on-air personality endorsement to a friend’s recommendation, more so than they do sponsored Facebook posts, sponsored tweets or television commercials. This is because it is really real. Radio DJs care about their listeners and it’s their responsibility to share truths with them. If they believe in the brand, they will sell it. To hear some successful endorsement campaigns, please visit the case study section on RAB.com.
In the end, it really is about the personality of the personality – the characteristics that make them likeable, relatable, worth listening to and more. Personalities are just people who like to chat, entertain, or joke with people. They are passionate about their love for music, and love making people’s days better and generating conversation, as well as being a positive, uplifting force for them. They are people that don’t mind being a bit “extreme.” They can be news, sports or political junkies, or just individuals who spend most of their time living, eating, playing and engaging with brands in the same community as their listeners. They are all storytellers that everyone wants to listen to. They deliver something no one else can – personal, local, native advertising with the credibility that no other native advertising can claim.