What Makes A Great Air Talent


Entercom Chief Programming Officer Pat Paxton is on the cover of Radio Ink that comes out this week. Sporting an extremely impressive programming resume, Paxton oversees the Entercom team responsible for all content distributed on every Entercom radio station, as well as all digital and social media listener engagement strategies. Here’s an excerpt from our interview which is only available to subscribers to Radio Ink Magazine

Radio Ink: What makes a great air talent?
Paxton: It’s connection, developing a relationship, letting people get to know you, making sure you have touchpoints around their lives whether you’re on the air or not. This is a big difference from when I grew up and you could connect for three to five hours. Now you can connect 24 hours a day with social media.

The announcers now that are successful are the ones who connect and build those bonds with the fans, who talk about what they posted on Facebook or Instagram as much as they ask if you heard what they said on the radio. The ability to create a relationship and be part of someone’s life makes the best personality shine.

Radio Ink: What would be the equivalent these days of people getting into radio where they could work at the craft, like you did back working overnights?
Paxton: The opportunities are far less. I tell young people just get your foot in the door, and don’t worry if you’re doing an airshift or handing out T-shirts. Tell the PD or the GM you’re willing to do anything and everything. When I was in Sioux City, it was not unusual for me to be cleaning toilets or shoveling snow. Be willing to do anything, and wait for that opportunity you want to open up.

When you see an opportunity, just go do it. It’s easier to hire somebody for the job if they are already doing it. Show that aggressiveness and passion. People will notice. The one thing that has not changed over all these years is that we look for passionate people who love what they do, who work hard to get better and are great teammates.

Radio Ink: Is voicetracking good for radio?
Paxton: Done properly, it’s fine. We do not have any stations that are voicetracked 24/7. Our mantra is live and local radio. We believe in that a billion percent. That said, if we’re in a situation where we have someone good on the air who wants more responsibility, and to make a little money, and we have a situation where ratings are suffering, then maybe we pay them to voicetrack in a market or two. We pay our best people a little more and get better on the air.

My charge, given to me by David Field, is not to do anything that puts the brand at risk. Whatever we do needs to improve the brand. If we are considering voicetracking and I do not think it will make it better for the consumer, then we’re not going to do it. If I do, then we will.

To subscribe to Radio Ink in time to receive this issue, which also includes our 2019 list of Best Program Directors in America, CLICK HERE


  1. It’s about connecting with your listening audience, when the listeners in their vehicle, they feel like they have their friend sitting right next to them, 9 times out of 10 if a listener going through things or having issues, they will call in asking for advice or Help. When you answer that request line to take that call, and you provide the help or point them in the right direction to get help, You are part of their everyday life. Local content matters, I repeat Local matters, talking about what’s going go in our communities and playing great music. Having a on air talent that can take calls for Shout-Outs such as Anniversaries, Birthday’s, Graduation means a lot to the listening audience

  2. These comments are in response to the RadioInk “sneak peek” promo/lead-in sent out via email, entitled “Content King,” which is presumably included at the top of the full story this excerpt is from, as well as to this excerpt.
    Too funny really; where to begin?
    1) Dear RadioInk, repeating the same falsehood repeatedly does not make it fact, and your repetition of Entercom’s fallacious claim to be #2 does not make it a fact. Entercom continually claims to be “the second-largest radio group in the country”; this is “funny” accounting. Entercom “supports” its claim to being #2, by stating on its website that it has over 235 radio stations across the country; meanwhile Cumulus Media states on its website that it has 441 stations across the country (down from 445). How is ~235 larger than 441? Additionally Cumulus has talkers in the top seven markets, unlike Entercom which begins at the #8 market (but now Entercom is rolling out its Channel Q in its major markets!).
    2) RadioInk you go on to state that Pat’s “charge” has been to meld CBS & Entercom, mend cultural “fences,” and move the combined entity forward; while Pat states his charge, given to him by CEO David Field “is not to do anything that puts the (Entercom) brand at risk. Whatever we do needs to improve the brand. If…I do not think it will make it better for the consumer, then we’re not going to do it. If I do, then we will.”
    So developing, expanding, and aggressively pushing CHANNEL Q(ueer) is mending cultural fences, NOT putting the Brand at Risk, making the brand BETTER for the consumer?! Breathtaking, this is David’s and Pat’s doing! Per a statement by Pat, they seemingly “believe in this a billion percent” too! And RadioInk, you crown Pat “Content King”!
    When Entercom falls, I wonder whether David will continue to reward Pat.
    3) A comparatively minor matter, ‘Host’s 24/7 social media relationship contact touchpoints are what make for “great AIR Talent”’! Brilliant, too brilliant!

    Brad Thomas presents, “After All Is Said & Done”

  3. Voice tracking, whether done properly (whatever that means) or not, is NOT “fine”.
    It is a cheap and lazy strategy and it is insulting to audiences that, under other circumstances, might find a station more appealing – maybe even worthy of continuing listenership.
    But, I digress…
    Pardon me for another rambling fantasy.

  4. I was the general manager when Pat was working in Sioux City. What he said is exactly true. It seemed he was always in my office asking for more responsibility and when I said “no” he would view it as a temporary setback….and come right back when another opportunity came along. When someone wants something that much you gotta give ’em a chance.

    Pat, you made us all proud of you….and you are passing it on the to next generation. That is the best thing you can do!


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