Clients often ask me which of the Fourteen Traits Inherent in the Best RadioPersonalities is the most important and predictive of success on the radio. That’s a very difficult question. It’s usually unwise to isolate any of the Fourteen Traits because each tends to modify or reinforce others. Multiple traits contribute to a personality’s appeal to listeners, ability to create content, and perform on the radio.
When it comes to creating distinctive and powerful content, high level Curiosity is the key driver. The constant urge to ask questions fueled by an insatiable desire to know generates the raw material necessary to produce truly life enriching content. Really good questions prompt answers loaded with learning and discovery that can be shared with listeners.
It’s also important to note that great questions are often the product of the traits of Awareness, Imagination, Experience, and Courage. The more a personality hears not only the words in an answer but the thoughts and feelings behind the words (Awareness), recognizes how thoughts and feelings, experiences and ideas connect to new and more interesting subjects and ideas (Imagination), has “been there and done that” (Experience), and has the Courage to ask any question at any time, the better the questions.
Here’s what these primary content generation traits sound like in action. It’s a three minute portion of Howard Stern’s recent 70 minute conversation with Bill Murray. You’ll hear only Howard’s questions from the first 10 minutes of the interview with some answers for context. Listen to how quickly and excitedly the questions flow because of Howard’s genuine Curiosity and excitement to know everything about Bill Murray. He can’t help himself. Each answer seems to fuel his drive to go further and dig deeper into Murray’s life and discover what makes him tick. Listen for Howard’s Awareness of Murray’s thoughts, feelings, and attitudes and how this knowledge informs and inspires his questions. Notice that Howard’s Imagination and Experience help him connect to the events in Bill Murray’s life, speculate on how they’ve affected him and explore how they’ve shaped his values and beliefs. Listen for Howard’s Courage to ask a person he reveres any question that pops into his mind.
Howard Stern’s listeners constantly marvel at what he reveals about his guests as well as what they learn and discover about the ups and downs and ins and outs of life. These magic and memorable moments are all products of Howard’s amazing Curiosity enhanced by his Awareness, Imagination, Experience and Courage. Howard is not alone. These traits are the foundation for the great content created by all the best radio personalities.