Seven essentials of top shows and stations: Valerie Geller at RadioDays

At this week’s RadioDays conference in Dublin, Valerie Geller gave a presentation on her seven essentials of top radio shows and stations in the digital age. She shares it here with radioinfo readers.
The work I do around the world is based on only these three things: tell the truth, make it matter and NEVER be boring. If you do those three things, it works every time. 
In my work coaching talent, working with news and helping stations grow their audiences, I’m often asked: “ Is there a recipe for creating a winning radio show or radio station?” The answer is yes. 
In my experience all successful radio shows and stations throughout the world have seven essential qualities. Here they are:

Content Creation
Sell it
Product –  Permanence –Promotion
Digital Specialist

To explain:
You’ve heard the expression: “Content is king.” It is. Content is our strength in radio. Since listeners can get their news, music, information, and public service from many other places, your personalities are where your station or show can break through to deliver powerful content and connect with your audience. Offer what listeners cannot get elsewhere.
A word about talent – The first step to creating great content is to find people who have it. By hiring talented on-air personalities or show presenters, you’re already ahead. But the challenge is that real talent is rare. You can’t teach it. It exists from within. You can only develop or discourage it.  Recognizing talent is a talent of its own.  
Radio is an art form that takes craft, skill, training, hard work, and experience, but if you find someone with talent, and a desire to succeed, it’s worth the time to develop them – these people can win for your station.  Find and hire personalities who are interesting, intelligent, curious, fun or humorous, are relatable, can communicate engagingly and who can connect to the audience. If a total stranger comes up to your air personality and says,  “I’ve never met you, but I listen to you on the air, and I feel as though I know you….” That is high praise.  In our digital world, compelling talent is one answer to creating original and powerful content. 
If your listeners can get the same thing from five other stations, why would they listen to you?  Be predictably unpredictable. Take your audience on an original journey, offer new information, entertain with humor or introduce them to characters they can care about. Give them reasons to listen to you.
This is about genuinely authentically caring about the people in your audience. Give back to your community. Help individuals or charities, and show sincere concern for the audience’s issues or problems. Whenever you can “leave your campsite better than you found it”, do it.
If you work in commercial radio – the station has to make money, and your sales team has to have pride in the station and be able to sell it easily.  If you work in public radio, you must be able to market yourself to those who have the financial power to make your broadcast possible.   Do whatever you can to make their jobs easier. Create alliances and support those people in every way you can. 
This is the formula for any business to succeed.  Have a great product. Do it consistently over time. And then market it, so people know where to find it.
Every successful show and station needs one person dedicated to just taking care of the show/station in the digital space. Millennials live there and we need to meet them where they live. Right now, this is the hottest job in radio. Build and care for your show’s brand by maintaining relationships with them through social media. Create Vimeo or youtube videos. Maintain the station website and give listeners a reason to visit often.
Remember – you’re in the story business. Your audience can never get enough stories. Draw material from your community, the news, and your own life experience. The minute a listener says “What happened next?” you own your audience. The story has to matter to you if you want it to matter to them. There are no boring stories, only boring storytellers – which takes us back to the last of the three original “Powerful Radio Principles” — NEVER Be Boring!
If you will be in the USA for the NAB conference in Las Vegas, Valerie Geller will be signing Beyond Powerful Radio books at 16:00 on April 7th, Monday at the NAB store.
Valerie Geller is president of Geller Media International Broadcast Consultants/Training, working with news, talk, information and personality for radio and television throughout the world. Coaching talent both one-on-one and with teams, Geller also leads “Powerful Communicator” seminars and workshops throughout the world. 

In Australia she has worked with the ABC, in Europe with Sveriges Radio, the NRK, Danmarks Radio, YLE,  the BBC, LBC, Antenne Bayern, Nation FM in Kenya, the CBC in Canada as well as Q107, CHFI and News680. She’s worked with CBS in the USA, NPR, Minnesota Public Radio and many more. 
Named “One of the Most Powerful Women in Broadcasting” by Radio Ink Magazine, she was the recipient of the Conclave’s highest honor, the 2010 Rockwell Lifetime Achievement Award for Broadcasting in America.  Her four books about broadcasting, including her latest, “Beyond Powerful Radio – A Communicator’s Guide to the Internet Age”  2011 Focal Press – have been translated into several languages, and will soon be available in a French translated edition.  For more on the Beyond Powerful Radio book,

To reach Valerie Geller  – email [email protected], On Twitter (@VGeller),, Phone +1212-580-3385

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