What Great Radio Announcers Share In Common

Scott on WVIC 1977

Like any profession, great radio announces share a lot in common. They can teach us how to be the best in what we do. Having walked the path, I’ve studied the careers of dozens of successful DJs. Here are the commonalities that distinguish the best of the best.


Great radio announcers know their subject. They are a treasure trove of information about the artists and their music. They know what’s happening in their community and rub elbows with the opinion leaders. They develop a radar-like sense for stories that will interest the audience and are up to the minute aware of current events on the local, national and international scene.


Great radio announcers are in a constant state of preparation. Whether it’s becoming familiar with new music, understanding sponsor messaging or seeking out factoids about popular culture or news items, the best DJs can distill information quickly and have more than enough content for their shows.

DJ Dick Biondi with his Listeners

Connection with the audience

Great radio announcers work hard to understand and connect with their audience. They have a sixth sense for what’s going on inside the listener’s head. They respect their customers, be they advertisers, fellow team members, or the end-users of their product. They seek other ways to engage, beyond the microphone, are visible and active in the community and look for every opportunity to engage with the ultimate arbiters of their future, the ears on the other end of the radio.

Ability to work within constraints while stretching the edge of the envelope

Every gig has rules. Great radio announcers know how to effectively inform and entertain within the confines of those guidelines. Yet, they are not afraid to press the edge of the envelope and advocate for innovation to stay competitive.


Ego is legendary in the radio business but great radio announcers who can sustain a career over time develop an attitude of collaboration and cooperation. They know that their tenure can end in a nano-second and build a resilient mindset that helps them land on their feet at a new station in an new market. The best jocks are agile. They learn from setbacks and mistakes, using failure as fuel to press forward. They understand their role as ambassadors of the radio station and its advertisers and know that part of their legacy is paving the way for new talent to emerge.

Wilt Chamberlain on the air in the 1950s in Memphis.

Excellent Execution

Great radio announcers learn the nuance of execution. Their diction is perfect for the format. They know how to put disparate program pieces together so the entertainment flows like a symphony. The know enough about engineering the take advantage of the limitations of the technology to build great entertainment experiences with whatever tools they are given.

A hunger for continuous learning

And great radio announcers never stop learning. They realize that they can always improve their skill sets, develop new ways to add value, embrace new technologies and platforms and become experts at execution in whatever arena is their current home.

Broadcasting is a profession, an alchemy of art and science that creates ephemeral moments of positive energy for both the performer and the audience. Great radio announcers treat it with the humility and respect akin to hall-of-fame athletes and the Level 5 Leaders we read about in Jim Collins’ Good to Great. Those who can sustain a career over the long hall adapt and adjust. But they stay centered on the key attributes the define success in every profession and continuously work to improve their skills to stay competitive and in the game.

Today in History:

1933: President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt survives assassination attempt but Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak is mortally wounded, he would die on March 29.
1936: Adolf Hitler announces construction of the Volkswagen Beetle (the People’s Car, aka the Käfer/Beetle).
1941: Duke Ellington first records Take the A Train”.”
1950: Walt Disney’s animated film Cinderella” premieres in Boston.”
1962: Ray Charles recorded ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ at United Studios in Hollywood, California.
1964: The Beatles scored their first US No.1 album with Meet The Beatles! The album stayed at No.1 for eleven weeks. The album sold over four million copies in the US by December 31, 1964.
1965: Nat King Cole dies at age 45.
1968: John and Cynthia Lennon, along with George and Patti Harrison, flew to India to study meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Paul and Ringo joined them a few days later, but Starr would become bored and leave on March 1st, comparing the experience to be like a ‘Butlins holiday camp.’ Much of the Beatles’ The White Album was written during their stay.
1981: Mike Bloomfield (Butterfield Blues Band – Electric Flag) dies at age 37.
1996: Tommy Rettig, American actor (Jeff’s Collie, Lassie), dies of a heart attack at 54.
2002: Howard K. Smith dies. (b. 1914)

Today’s Birthdays:

1952: Melissa Manchester, (Midnight Blue).
1947: David Brown (Santana) (d. 2000).
1907: Cesar Romero (The Joker on Batman) (d. 1994)
1944: Mick Avory, drummer with The Kinks
1927: Harvey Korman, (Carol Burnett Show & Blazing Saddles), (d. 2008)
1944: Denny Zager, singer with Zager and Evans

Today in 1969, Sly and the Family Stone started a four week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with ‘Everyday People’, their first chart topper.

Thanks for listening!

Scott Westerman
Host and Producer – Rock and Roll Revisited
Author: Motor City Music – Keener 13 and the Soundtrack of Detroit