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The importance of planning a link

One of the basics of being a great on air personality is always be sure you have a very clear point before you speak.

Too many presenters open the mic without really knowing why they are telling that particular story, or what they want the audience to do at the end of it.

If you don’t know then audience won’t know and you’ve wasted what could have been a brilliant link.

The best demonstration of that is this clip from “Trains, Planes and Automobiles”

In this age it isn’t just talking about something every year in November, every breakfast show up and down the Country talks about the New John Lewis Ad. They tell you if they like it, most shows will play a clip of it and it will feature on their social media pages – boring!

What else can you do with it? You know it’s coming so how much more creative can you be with it rather than just describing it and letting the audience know your opinion of it.

Although this isn’t a radio example I rather loved what Lidl did with it – why couldn’t your radio show do something similar?

Ed and Gemma from the Breakfast show on Heart West Midlands had a Elton John Look a like in on the show, it was funny and surprising and great that they didn’t just talk about the advert but they brought it to life in a creative way.

The Oscars are coming the Brits are coming – hell snow is coming so what more can you do than just talk about these things that really grabs the audience’s attention?

The Chris Evans Breakfast Show

I wasn’t going to blog about the new Chris Evans Breakfast show as I feel like it’s an undergraduate passing judgment on Rembrandts work.

In the end though I couldn’t resist so for what it is worth, here is what I thought.


Was it perfect? Well what first show is and I should know as I’ve launched a lot over the years.

What it was though was effortless; it was comfortable with just a hint of unpredictability.

I must confess I’ve always admired Chris Evans as a Broadcaster, I didn’t listen to his Radio 2 show enough as I was always consumed by the shows I was working on at the time so the crew working on this show are unfamiliar to me.

Yet after one show I feel I know them all – such was the simplicity and beauty of the show.

Was it full of groundbreaking content? – No, but I loved the way Chris took the audience on a voyage of discovery about his new home.

He is the master of letting the audiences peep behind the curtain but always in an inclusive way.

I love the way he gives the audience little details about the group he is working for and the view from the studio – but never in a “look at me kind of way” always in that way that says “I’m lucky – share our good fortune”.

The energy was off the scale, the sense of fun made your heart sing, and the lovely touches weaved in about his family life shows how important it is that radio personalities share their life.

I love how he talked about the rivalry in his house between his sons over which TV advert involving them is getting the most views.

He asks his audience to help his son Noah out by watching his video, as he is upset his younger brother’s advert has more views.

Not only is this great self-promotion and helps highlight the actual advertising of his show but also it is deeply personal and relatable touch.

His show is littered with guests who all sound like they are old friends having fun which creates that kind of magic that as a listener you can’t help but want to be part of.

The show sounded like a family and that’s show one – Gary Neville on the phone, Paul Whitehouse in the studio, all of it just made it a great listen.

Chris has a real knack of coming across as down to earth and humble like when he’s asked about his rivalry with Zoe Ball he simply say’s “If you are good at what you do there is room for us all –love you Zoe always”.

And as the week as gone on he has grown in stature, quite often breaking Radio rules over multiple guest and voices and at times I wasn’t sure who was on but that really didn’t matter to me.

With live music throughout the week from Richard Ashcroft,  KT Tunstall, Sharleen Spiteri (side note first person I Interviewed for Radio) and the re-imagined Beautiful South it feels like a grown up radio version of TFI.

We need more radio shows like this that break the rules, which are full of surprise warmth and fun – too many radio shows sound the same.

Now it won’t be everybody’s cup of tea and that’s fine, not everyone can like everything – but I loved it and Chris is a genius at what he does.

“Before they love you”

“Before they love you, they must like you, to like you they must know you”

That is why it’s so important that you reflect your life on the radio.

Sadly it’s often forgotten that radio is deeply personal, it only uses one of the senses, so you need to create a deeper connection, you need to paint a picture for the listener. Sure you can talk about the big moments of the day or TV – but let’s be honest anybody can do that. What you can do by telling stories of your life is connect in a far greater way. It’s about creating that “Me Too” moment when a listener identifies with you and your life.

Chris Evans and I are about the same age; I remember when he was on Radio 1 talking about how he’d bought a power drill and how he was now into DIY. He was telling the audience he thought that would never happen to him – I thought the same about myself.  He then went on to explain how he was like a child with a toy and was constantly looking for things to drill looking – I felt exactly the same. More than 25 years on I remember that instant real connection I had to him through listening to him on the radio.

Chris is a master at weaving his life effortlessly into his radio shows – the new Virgin Ads do the same, using his wife and children. He is real; he is a husband and a father so why on earth wouldn’t he talk about that on the radio?

It’s always about the audience, but the art is that it’s really about you. It’s about the audience laughing at the scrapes you get into or crying with you when disaster strikes in your life, it’s your view of your world shared for the audience.

Kiss Sydney Breakfast Show hosts Kylie and Jackie O are both brilliant at this, Jackie talking about the recent split from her husband was both moving and funny, they both weave light and shade throughout their story telling so well. On Today FM’s Breakfast Show in Sydney Grant broke down as he recalled his crippling back injury and how he never thought he would walk again.

This is the power of radio, the power of the on air personality able to share with the audience, connect with the audience and form a bond.

So don’t just talk about what was on TV last night, or the “big” thing of the day (sure weave that in) but the bits your audience will remember you for is sharing your life with them, after all that’s what friends do.