Be ‘The Bear’ On The Air


“When the show debuted in 1999, I was fortunate to be coaching 2 Guys Named Chris at Rock 92 Greensboro, NC. It’s gratifying to see this morning show remain dominant not only in Greensboro but in numerous markets around the country. Chris Kelly is a funny guy and a captivating storyteller with a passion for morning radio. His blog is a great lesson for all air talents who are dedicated to making every second of every show count. Chris Kelly is truly The Bear on the Air.” – Randy Lane

(By Chris Kelly) I recently watched a show on Hulu called The Bear. It’s a wonderful show about a world-class chef who unexpectedly inherits his late brother’s restaurant in Chicago. I am, by no means, a foodie, but when the show was recommended by someone with similar taste in entertainment, I decided to watch.

This show has reconnected me with the professionalism and hard work it takes to be successful in a highly competitive industry like the restaurant business – or morning radio.

One episode in particular hit me like a lightning bolt. The season two episode “Forks” finds one of the show’s main characters briefly working in a Michelin three-star rated restaurant. He’s there to work, observe, and learn. The restaurant is so focused on every tiny detail that for the first few days all he’s allowed to do is polish forks…and they need to be right.

There is an intense conversation between chefs because one dinner plate, from the dinner service a few nights before, had a smudge on it. It wasn’t as much about the smudge as it was about owning up to the smudge and correcting the thing that caused it.

The scene that made me connect this restaurant with our radio show was one between the newcomer in the restaurant and one of the seasoned chefs.

The seasoned chef was running the kitchen. The scene is frantic. She is sending dozens of meticulously prepared dishes to table after table. She is changing orders on the fly due to allergies, seating arrangements…even little cues from customers that have been observed by servers.

Finally, after what seems like hours of a harrowing pace, completely unseen by the joyous diners, the newcomer asks…”Why do you do all this…why do you go to this much trouble”?

The chef replies, “Because every single night makes someone’s day.”

That’s it. That’s the ballgame. Every single day we do our radio show makes someone’s day. That’s why we do it.

I’ve been a part of my radio show for 25 years, and I’ve gotten dozens of emails from listeners thanking me for helping them through an illness, a family crisis, or a job loss. We never know who is listening. We never know which segment that person will hear. We have to impress the first-time listener just as the high-end restaurant has to impress the person who will only eat there once.

We also have to take care of our regulars. They are so important. Every segment has to be the best we can make it. I’m going to make someone’s day. That’s the reason we do what we do.

Most restaurants fail. Most radio shows fail. The game is harder now. We fight big companies, small companies,a billion podcasts, playlists, and streaming services. We will have smudges – but when we have them we have to have the courage to recognize them, own up to them, and correct them. We get four hours a day. Every second counts.


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