Finding your next radio stars

By Valerie Geller – Talent Coach

If you’re lucky, a shining star walks in your front door. Or maybe your next “big hit” is right under your nose. But mostly, finding the right people means a search.

Hiring is one of your biggest challenges, but you win when you get it right.

Always Be On The Lookout

Talk to everyone. Use your network. Accept that mistakes are part of the process. Successful managers take their time and their chances. The best time to find talent is not when you’re desperate. Always be looking. Then, when you have an opening, you’ve got your “wish list” already started.

The X Factor

You can teach radio/audio broadcast or podcast skills and craft, but you cannot teach talent. That’s the X factor. It’s what stars, successful podcasters, and highly rated personalities all have. And it’s what you need to develop and grow your audience.

 Where To Find Them

Look for talent both inside and outside of broadcasting. Communication, storytelling, and listening skills all transfer beautifully to radio. We’ve seen stars emerge from those working in psychology, the clergy, law, real estate, show business, and education.

They may already host or produce a podcast with a notable following; that’s where you’ll likely find those who have mastered social media.

Look for creative people who are fun, passionate, smart, and have a sense of humour. Hire curious people with a wide range of interests, those who ask why. (Remember that your future breakthrough stars may not look or sound exactly as you imagined.

Online Resumes

As you look at that virtual pile of online applications, be aware. Al-crafted resumes can make a candidate seem 100% targeted to your opening, and it’s easy to be fooled.

Al is set up to show you what you want to see and may not be 100% accurate. Al and search algorithms can also easily miss or eliminate the resume of a good candidate.

It takes time to get to know people and understand their potential. Do the personal interview and deeply examine a candidate’s background. Always check out professional and personal references, Ask yourself: “What would surprise me about this person?”

On-Site Vs. Work From Home

Remote work has become an attractive alternative to physically coming into the station. Ask yourself, “Does this job really require being at the station?”

Flexibility may give you an edge over other prospective employers. If your candidate agrees to come in for meetings, trainings, and work gatherings, are you willing to give remote work a try?

Finding The Chemistry

If you’re replacing an on-air personality or producer, you never know if the team will have that spark until they work together. Are they willing to audition? Work with those in place? Chemistry is important.

Hire Storytellers

There are no boring stories, only boring storytellers. Talent’s job is to never be boring, even with material or content that may not change over days or weeks. In

my job as a consultant and talent trainer, I ask each candidate to tell me a story or a joke three times, three ways, and keep it interesting every time. “Would you take a five-hour car journey with this person and have a great time?” This can be the deciding factor, especially when choosing among several qualified candidates.

Likability is important to long-term success. No matter how funny, smart, or entertaining someone is, you win by hiring people the audience likes to be with. Being

with an on-air talent for hours at a time is what you’re asking your listeners to do, day after day, week after week, and hopefully, year after year.

What Do They Need?

Discover what drives your candidates. Why do they want to do this work? What’s important to them? What do they desire? What are their goals? Do these align with what you need? Can you offer what they need or want?

If your goal is to hire and build tomorrow’s radio stars and grow audiences for your brand and station, use this approach, and you very likely will.


Portions are excerpted with permission from Routledge Press Beyond Powerful Radio – A Communicators Guide to the Internet Age by Valerie Geller.

International broadcast consultant Valerie Geller is a talent coach and radio/podcast trainer. Reach her at