By Carolyn Fox
Whimsical Fox, LTD
I’ve known many of you since my days as music director at WBRU, Providence. Ok, so we all have a little less hair where we want it and too many pounds of blubber where we don’t. You’re basically the same and so are the basic tenets of good radio.
Let me remind you of why I had over 50% of the available radio audience at any given time listening to me for over 20 years. I’m going keep this short because I know we all have the attention spans of gnats, which is why we ended up in this biz to begin with!
- First and foremost — as a host, be human. Don’t fake it. Listeners are creatures/mammals just like you and me. They can sniff out BS like I used to be able to sniff out who was holding, when I walked into any nightclub you wished you could get into. In case you forgot, being human is being vulnerable, empathetic and loving. Shut your mouth and listen to your caller. When the caller is done you then ask a question. Be genuinely curious and inquisitive. If you really don’t care, go do fries and shakes at Mickey D’s. I hear they are paying more than we’ll ever make in radio ever again.
- Be funny. Life can suck and most people’s lives do. Lighten your listeners’ load and they will pay you back in kind. There are all kinds of funny. I am the ballsy chick who will do all the dirty work my listeners shouldn’t do themselves. After all, they have families and paying jobs. I have the mic they wish they had in life. It seems that the listeners love to bust my chops too, which is fine by me. Better mine than the boss they have to see 15 minutes after they wipe their chin of me.
- It’s their show, not mine. The listeners have a choice and they pick me every day. You bet I’m going serve up what they want…with boundaries. I’m just the ringleader with the whip. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid to party but I’ll be the first to pull the reins in so we can carry on tomorrow. Nothing is worse than a program director, GM or owner busting in the on the fun and calling the police.
- Create content that’s so compelling that the listeners MUST listen to be cool. This is so easy if you are truly the demo. You never have to guess what they want. I am what we both want! Our relationship is symbiotic. I know that’s multi-syllabic but the radio family also likes that they can ask me questions about much of life and I often know the answer. I read the books, go to the movies and shows so they don’t have to. My goal is to be the “Evelyn Wood” of culture so I can tell them the next day that they didn’t miss too much while they were hanging with their kids.
- Know where your bread is buttered. There is a delicate balance between art and the business. Be respectful of the sales team and be a team player. You can’t get paid if you don’t have sponsors. It’s a quid pro quo. I often find that my best “guests” are the broadcasting wannabe’s downstairs in the sales dungeon. There’s no need to sell your soul to Pepsi and there are two million dollars a year why you should at least bend over.
Great radio is nothing more than real humans connecting with other real humans aurally. Don’t overcomplicate the message because my kid is banking on you to resuscitate radio so he too can pay back his college loans. Feel free to pass this piece on to our next generation of knuckleheads who just can’t help falling in love with…radio.
Carolyn Fox is a legendary radio personality who has achieved success with both music and talk shows on major stations in New England. Currently based out of New York City, she is president of Whimsical Fox, LTD, where she produces and hosts programming for Spreaker.com and is heard each week on CBS-Boston’s WBCN, HD. She says her “dream show” would be an “edgy talk/entertainment program.” She can be phoned at 866-236-9666 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.