A Message For Radio’s Future Stars


(By John Shomby) After spending some time with the students from the Georgia Association of Broadcasters Radio Talent Institute earlier this month and, as we welcome a new class of college graduates into the “real” world, I thought it best for at least one of us in the industry to send a very specific message to future radio broadcasters.

If you’re an employer, you may want to adjust your job descriptions/ads for openings (and, yes, there are some!)

For our future radio broadcasters, you are about to enter an industry that is going through a bit of an identity crisis. In the past, a new breed of broadcaster has always entered the business and helped us move into the future. Today, you have that ability to guide us into the world of advanced technology, including A.I. and streaming.

You grew up with the smartphone and social media while the rest of us have had to learn and adjust with each change. Quite frankly, we need you more than you need us. Let that sink in for minute. With that in mind, here are some concepts to consider as you navigate the radio industry landscape:

  1. Radio was the original “podcast.” What you listen to today on podcasts is derived from radio 20 years ago and beyond. From morning show “zoos” to bombastic talk hosts, from crazy night jocks to nighttime “relationship” DJs, radio pioneered it all.
  2. This is no longer just the “radio” industry. We are now heavily into streaming, video, social media, digital written content – plus we’re entering the world of artificial intelligence. You are about to be a part of a multimedia business which gives you a decided advantage considering your lifelong experience with all media. 
  3. Caution! Don’t assume you know it all. Familiarize yourself with the latest online platforms and digital mediums. Be open to learning and adapting to new technologies and absorbing all you can about the history of the business. 
  4. Bring what you know about your age group to the table. Show us how radio is still viable with that group and why. We veteran radio folk can only speculate through research. You have lived it and are living it. Don’t be afraid to show this value that you have to offer.
  5. Find a small group of forward-thinking mentors who believe in you and hop on their backs. Not just those with experience but also those who have a definite eye and ear for the future. Seek feedback and learn from them. Embrace continuous learning and strive to enhance your abilities. You have experienced, firsthand, how fast the world changes daily.
  6. Study the art of storytelling. Learn how to engage your audience and evoke emotions through your words. Paint vivid pictures in the minds of your listeners. 
  7. Don’t worry about how you sound as much as being concerned about WHAT YOU SAY and HOW you communicate it. Above all – you be you! The days of the big voice from Nowhere USA are long gone. Authenticity is crucial.
  8. Build your own brand in addition to your connection with the radio station. Create your own online presence (if you haven’t already). This would include a personal website, active social media presence and, yes, even possibly a podcast. Your personal brand can only help your station.
  9. Be TOTALLY positive about radio’s place in our lives and its standing in the communications industry. Help create solutions and don’t dwell on the problems. You must believe in the medium 100%. No doubts. No complaints. No matter what you hear, radio is not going away.

You’ll hear this a lot but take it to heart – YOU are radio’s future. Whatever happens for you will take time, dedication, perseverance and, most of all, passion. Finally – to paraphrase Rachel Platten, “You might only one match, but you can make an explosion.”

Based in Nashville, TN, John Shomby is the owner and CEO of Country’s Radio Coach. He is focused on coaching and mentoring artists, radio programmers, and on-air talent to help them grow and develop inside the radio station and the industry. Reach John at [email protected] and 757-323-1460. Read John’s Radio Ink archives here.


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