What Does A Listener Want From The On-Air Staff?

New information was recently released by the CRS Research Presentation by Smith Geiger and found the relationship between live on-air staff and listeners is extremely important. Diving into country radio, about 65% of listeners are tuning in through streaming or terrestrial radio and it showed the convenience of live and local radio is still relevant.

Why is it important to have live on-air staff? 74% of listeners polled were able to tell the questionnaire who was on air when they were listening and what was being talked about on air. “Knowing” who you’re listening to while driving or getting the kids ready for school is a huge factor in increased listening time.

Something VERY interesting is the audience said they preferred an authentic person vs a polished and scripted discussion. They wanted to hear genuine personalities who share personal stories, how they feel about the music, and their take on local events. The presentation also proved to rate higher with 68% wanting a more casual approach on air.

What does all this mean for on air staff? The listener WANTS you to be YOU. Yes, it’s important to have an outline, especially in mornings, so you are prepared and know what you will be discussing before your show. However, don’t script it. Be yourself. The audience wants to know you and not an actor. When you are local, talk about local events happening, weather, sports…things the audience can relate to.

The reason you were hired in the first place is because of your personality and professionalism. Keep this in mind in an age of “make sure your breaks are under a certain amount of time.”  When the listener meets you in public at station events, they will want to meet the person they hear on air. If you are too scripted on air, it’s not going to relate when you meet the audience in person.

Radio is changing. With the introduction of AI, many managers are trying to find a new way to fight these changes. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Live and local radio will always be pertinent. The audience will always want to feel close to the on-air staff, especially through tough times. When I was doing mornings during the pandemic, we received many calls and messages from listeners thanking us for being a “break” in the seriousness of the world at the time. They loved us being silly and joking on air. When things get serious, it’s key to be there for them.

With all this said, keep in mind listeners want to listen to you and not a bot. They value your companionship and human connection.

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