On Air Talent by Paul Kaye

Paul Kaye


by Paul Kaye

PSR Contributor

January 15, 2018




Recently I got to answer some questions about talent and the importance of talent for the health of radio.  Now we’re sharing the transcript of that conversation.


How important is talent in today’s landscape? And, if it’s so important, how do we as an industry do a better job of providing opportunities for young talent to learn and grow?


Vital. Still what separates our brands from our competitors. We talk a lot about the art and the science. Talent is the art. Talent bring the uncertainty – the unpredictability – the surprise and the drama to our brands. Talent makes us unique. They add the human element to our brands. The connection. Music is important but it becomes more powerful with talent. We live in a time of short attention spans and too many choices. Great talent makes choosing easier. We come back to consistently good entertainment. We need to do two things better… firstly we need to train our programmers more on talent and how to nurture and support talent. We spend too much time managing. Then yes we need to be bold and take some risks.


What characteristics or personality traits do you feel are most important for talent?


Self awareness – they know themselves. They notice how they respond to things. How they see things. Ego – they believe in themselves. Their ego gives them confidence. Curiosity – they ask lots of questions and want to know how things work. They have an insatiable appetite for knowing things. Purpose – they have a drive. A mission that goes deeper than being about them. They want to entertain. Fearless – have courage. They are willing to put themselves out there and try.

  • Hard working – the best work insanely hard.
  • They create content they care about
  • Different – They’re a little off centre. See the world a little different. Maybe it’s quirkiness. They think unconventionally.
  • Communication skills. Can tell visual stories. Use their voice to portray emotion. The light/shade.


How has the role of a personality changed over the years?


I think the role of the talent hasn’t changed in essence. To connect like-minded audiences with content they desire. We changed what is required of them. In some instances there is less freedom – or space – to create. Now we require a lot of talent to be Crisp, Concise & Compelling. Finding an observation or line that will connect to the audience. That’s a tough skill to master. Takes a lot of practice.  I think – or at least hope – that we’re making a change in this respect.  My belief is the future of our industry is wholly reliant on talent in fact it always has been.  Great creators off and on the air.  I think there is an appetite among audiences to get more content – as long as it’s good – from talent.  Music can be found everywhere.  What audiences truly want is their favourite talent sharing stories and being entertaining.  I think we’re about to see more ‘space to create’.


There is another significant shift regarding talent.  They are now on 24/7. Brands are expected to interact with the consumers at any time on any platform. It’s no different for talent.  Talent are no long employed to entertain between x and y hours; they need to be creating content for all platforms – all the time – the show is just the showroom for the majority of the content.  Audiences expect to be able to reach out and touch talent now whenever they want – talent has to be there for them.


How do each of you specifically work with talent to improve their shows?


Each show or situation is a little different.  It all starts with the individual. I am a believer in building on someone’s strengths. It’s the fastest way to success. Learn about them and who they are. Find what makes them interesting. Help them discover their perspective. That becomes crucial.


For morning shows we define what the show is about. The central plot. The storyline. We give them the strategy. When working with talent knowing the direction is crucial. Set the foundations. Otherwise it’s feedback for feedbacks sake. Then we spend time helping them to deliver content that lives up to that vision.


SPEND MORE TIME WITH YOUR STAR PERFORMERS. We tend to spend time with our poor performers or fixing problems, but that isn’t always the best approach for us to be taking. Instead we should be spending time with the high potentials (the star performers and the high potentials). We neglect those who often contribute the most.


What do personalities need to do to remain relevant in the future?


Understand their audience. There are still a lot of old assumptions about how people behave. You can’t put people into age groups anymore. You need to have a clear idea of the types of people that you are talking to. Their hopes. Their fears. Be more vulnerable. Find substance. Too much of what we do is superficial.  Keep learning. Take some risks. Experiment. Embrace and learn technology.


What good shows do every day and what good shows NEVER do?


They are consistent in delivering their shows strategy – everything they do lives up to their goals

The cast is different. The core is likeable.

They are vulnerable – ‘they’re just like me’

Driven by the topics of the day – broadens their appeal

The inject themselves into every piece of content – their perspective

The understand that relevance can only exist – what the audience is interested in and

They do interesting things with content – they avoid the obvious

Create story arcs – content narratives that run across different days

Use the power of you

Are in the NOW

Understand what local means

Knows its about the audience – holding a mirror up

Is efficient – they know people don’t have all day

Aren’t boring

Hook the listener at the start of their breaks – make the first sentence count

Know how to prep – and what prep is



Put average ideas on the air – they innovate

Loss the motivation to be better

Take their audience for granted – they treat them like stars

Leave things to chance – they have enough content ready to go

Underestimate how important it is to understand the audience’s world

Stop trying to innovate… Reinvent… Win their audience



No point of view

No role definitions

Not talking about the big topics – the audience’s interests

There is no innovation – content treatment



Paul Kaye is Vice President, Product and Talent Development for Rogers in Canada.  Paul spends his days working with stations and talent across all formats with a sole focus on helping improve performance and growing the business.  Prior to being at Rogers Paul held the role of National Talent Development Director for Newcap Radio and also a Group Programming role in England.  Paul is a certified coach and is passionate about helping individuals, teams and organizations reach their greatest potential, which is the fuel behind his other project The Talent Lab. Paul lives in Toronto with his wife, 2 dogs and a cat – life is never quiet!  You can reach Paul at **@th**********.co



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