By Bill McMahon
The Authenic Personality
EAGLE, Idaho — From a very young age we all have a quiet little voice in our heads that comes from somewhere deep inside. It whispers unique and amazing thoughts and ideas to us. In the beginning, we all hear these ideas, get excited, and do something about them. Unfortunately, the bigger and more unusual the ideas, the more resistance we encounter when we try to bring them to life. Eventually, most of us stop listening to that quiet little voice, dismiss its thoughts and ideas, and just try to fit in because it’s too damn hard to do otherwise.
The most successful radio personalities and great artists of all kinds never stop listening to that quiet little voice in their heads no matter how tough it gets. I just watched an interview Charlie Rose did with James Taylor a couple of years ago. He talked about how hard it was for him early on in his life.
“I was born with a difficulty of being in my own skin. Living in human society I just ran into trouble. I think everybody does to a greater or lesser extent. I did feel as though I was born on the dark side of the Moon and that I didn’t have a place in this world when I was 15.”
James Taylor’s troubles living in this world inspired that quiet little voice in his head to help him write some amazing songs. Here’s how James described the process to Charlie:
“I don’t really feel as though I write songs. I feel as though I hear them first and remember them and get them down. It’s such a mysterious and subconscious process that I couldn’t really say that I wrote those songs. I just channeled them or they happened to me first. There is a sort of lightning bolt kind of moment when you’re visited by a song and you get, hopefully, as much as you can. Sometimes it’s a whole song, but sometimes it’s just a fragment. Then you have to collect those fragments and often later on you sequester yourself and hide away somewhere and work ’em.”
That little voice in James Taylor’s head reacting to the suicide of a childhood friend named Suzanne, the failure of his early band “Flying Machine” and his struggles to overcome drug addiction helped him write “Fire and Rain.” James paid attention to the thoughts and feelings that flowed from these experiences that rang his emotional bell. He listened to that little voice in his head expressing his joys and sorrows. It helped him create a song that produces a powerful and memorable emotional experience.
The best radio is all about creating meaningful emotional experiences for listeners. If you’re a radio personality or anyone involved in creating radio content, don’t stop listening to that quiet little voice in your head. It’s your genius. It will provide the material that will cause your listeners to laugh, marvel, or understand something meaningful and important and help develop a lasting emotional connection with you. Write down everything it says no matter how weird, nonsensical, or fragmentary it may seem at the time. If you don’t write it down you’ll forget it. Then, like James Taylor, spend time with the stuff you collect. Work it and shape it. Figure out what you were born to create. Build it. Publish it. The world is waiting for you to make a difference like James Taylor has with his songs.
Bill McMahon, CEO of The Authentic Personality, is a longtime talk radio station and talent consultant who has played a role in the development of the careers of many leading hosts over the past three decades. He can be phoned at 208-887-5670 or emailed at Bill@AuthenticPersonality.biz. Meet Bill McMahon at Talkers New York 2015 in NYC on Friday, June 12. To register call 413-565-5413.