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Being Yourself

Jane McDonald – pic from ‘What’s On TV’

I have a guilty pleasure.

Actually, I have quite a few, but this is the one I’m owning up to.

I really, really like Jane McDonald’s cruising programmes on Channel 5.

It’s not just the boats and the destinations. It’s the presenter herself. She’s been around showbiz for many years, sings well and all the rest. But she does something that many of today’s presenters or influencers (God I hate that word) fail to do. She comes over as a real person.

Nothing about her persona is perfect because she’s a real person. Engaging, funny and warm. Every hair isn’t perfectly coiffed and every item of clothing not astronomically priced. She talks like a normal person with a regional accent and seems genuinely interested in her subject matter.

There’s a trend in radio to concentrate on storytelling, somehow combined with word economy. The belief is that if you tell compelling stories in the shortest possible time the listeners will flock to you. You see eyebrows lift when a speech link gets longer than 30 seconds. I think that’s only half the story.

Wander over to the sales side of the office and you quickly learn that people buy people. Being on top of your brief is only part of the job. You need to have warmth and empathy. It helps if you’re genuinely interested in the person you’re interacting with. The very best people in that world sell their product as something they believe in, taking the customer with them.

It’s the same in radio. We talk to tens of thousands of listeners – one at a time. The best broadcasters understand that in invest something of themselves into their programmes. Elements of their real personality shine through – and it’s the authenticity of the person doing the talking that attracts and keeps the listener engaged.

Sometimes a real person can be emotional. Other times they’re scatty or opinionated. I want to listen to people that are real and make me laugh, sometimes at myself. By doing that we all feel like we’re getting through life together and I have a genuine relationship with the broadcaster.

Jane McDonald’s warmth shines through and you feel her interest in her journeys and fellow passengers is real. It’s the same with the best broadcasters.

I look forward to the day when more of them are let out of their 20-second straitjackets to engage us all more.

Author: johnco

Born in 1963, been involved in radio since 1977.

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