How Soon Is Too Soon To Get Personal On Air?


(By Randy Lane) Consider this scenario: two people meet at the mailbox for the first time. They engage in a conversation, but it’s unlikely they’ll delve into personal matters like “my spouse is sleeping with the yoga teacher!” Instead, they naturally gravitate toward a third topic that’s universally relatable: the mail.

This is the essence of the Theory of the Third.

This theory also applies to new shows in a market or new players on an established show. Before getting personal, it’s essential for new shows to first understand the station and the market.

Focus content on humor, fun, topical, and lifestyle stories, the third thing that’s familiar and resonates with the audience.

The first step in developing your character is expressing your viewpoint on topical, lifestyle, and local stories. You could also share your experience of moving into the market, being at a local event, or visiting a local tourist attraction.

When to get personal

You know how off-putting it is when you meet someone and they immediately begin oversharing. You’re thinking, “I don’t know you, and I can’t care about you yet.” The same occurs with listeners when new shows start telling personal stories and being vulnerable from day one.

Conversely, we coach talent who wait too long to start developing their character, and the audience knows nothing about them. The question always arises: when does talent start sharing personal stories to establish and develop their character?

It takes the audience about 60 days to get comfortable and somewhat familiar with a new show. So, take your time, be patient, and let your character gradually unfold. Also, don’t wait a year to share, or you’ll be behind in developing your character and typically non-memorable.

Trusted voice

When a show or talent consistently outperforms the station, and you have become a trusted voice in your market, you can talk about anything. That includes personal opinions, feelings, stories, and even political topics, with the right tone and in an appropriate way.

Action steps for new shows

  1. Get a sense of the station and market.
  2. The first 60 days, focus on fun, humor, and topical content.
  3. Gradually let your character unfold through your point of view and personal stories.

Randy Lane is the owner of the Randy Lane Company, which coaches and brands radio and television personalities, business professionals, sports personalities, entrepreneurs, and pop culture artists, helping them master communication skills to have an impact on their audiences. Read Randy’s Radio Ink archives here.


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