How to lick the competition

You know what vanilla ice cream is. No one really dislikes it – it’s fine for any pallet and goes with everything.

Whether you add a dollop to your apple pie or flavour it with a topping… With vanilla – you can’t lose. But it’s not ideal on its own. It needs something extra to make it interesting. That’s where your personality and opinions come in.

Before the corporations and the PC marketing brigade got involved in radio to make a fast buck; music presenters could more or less be themselves on air. They didn’t have to remain neutral (vanilla) on every topic or comment they made.

Listeners like to know what people stand for. It doesn’t have to be politics – heaven knows we are all sick of hearing about what Trump did today; but as a local radio presenter you might have a view about public transport; high utility bills, or the local park turning into a no go area for your kids.

We all have opinions, original thoughts, and views on the topic of the day. No topic you say? Start one…

Or the new housing development down the road the locals don’t want built – but which will give the homeless somewhere to live. Or the prisoner who’s been released early having committed a heinous crime a few years back. Perhaps some musician has done something silly and you either support them or you don’t.

We all have opinions, original thoughts, and views on the topic of the day. No topic you say? Start one – what are your friends talking about? Make a topic and set the agenda. Get listeners talking; pick a side.

Whatever problems you and your friends are having with life generally then you can bet your listeners are in the same boat. You can connect with your listeners.

I’m not suggesting you start WWIII with your audience or even start a phone-in; I’m just encouraging you to think about saying something interesting in some of your links.

Don’t be afraid to lose a listener here and there for expressing your opinion – you will gain others who want to hear what you have to say – and that is how you develop a following and give listeners another reason to listen to you and your show.

Perhaps the real reason some corporate station owners force their presenters to be as inoffensive as possible is precisely to stop them gaining a following and to keep their broadcasts as vanilla as possible. Meaning they can change out presenters and no one will notice.

Trouble is, there’s too much vanilla on air. So it’s up to you to add the topping of your choice and set yourself apart from the other vendors of the ever-so-safe, sweet and nicey nice, harmless (pointless) boring, vanilla.

Steve Hart

Steve Hart

Steve Hart is a journalist and editor based in Melbourne.

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