I don't care so much about the ones who won't do the work; the people who sign up with The Jock Doc, pay their money and expect that just by talking with me for fifty minutes a week, they'll somehow improve.
No, the ones who really get to me are those who practice and think and do their assignments, and yet, after six weeks together, I'm pretty sure they'll never make it as radio personalities.
I'd be the last one to tell them that, and it's not because I'm afraid to hurt their feelings; it's because there's an old radio truism: everybody in this business, me included, has had one person along the way to say to them, "You're never going to make it in radio." I don't want to be that person in anyone's life. I don't want anyone spending the next ten years proving me wrong. Sometimes those students I fear may be "hopeless" just may find their stride, just may overcome their problems, just may end up highly successful radio personalities. I can be wrong.
In cases like these, I want to be wrong.
That said, I'd like to review some of the characteristics I find among jocks that makes me reasonably sure they're in the wrong career...
Foremost among these are people who can't speak well. Radio seems to attract them, almost as though they sense they have this small speech defect, and are determined to have a career where their success will prove there's nothing wrong with them.
It's uncanny how many entry-level jocks you hear who can't pronounce the suffix "ing." Pointing it out doesn't help much; try as they may, it always seems to come out "een."
I don't think it's a question of motivation or will. No, I have to believe that there are some people who are physically incapable of saying "ing." Is it because their motor control is somehow flawed, or could it be a perceptual problem that springs from the way they hear? I really just don't know.
I want to avoid spending much time teach people how to talk. My principal thrust is to help you focus on whom you're talking to and how to reach him/her. Nonetheless, there I find myself, working on pronouncing words, instead of on conveying thoughts. It seems, so often, like a hopeless task.
Can they succeed in radio?
Maybe -- if they're unique enough, appealing enough -- sure; I'm willing to believe anyone can make it if he or she has enough talent and individuality going for them. But that's not the way I'd bet...
There are others you hear once, and just know they're in the wrong profession -- or at least the wrong area of it. These are people who are emotionally flat, for instance. Often they're lovely folks. They just don't excite you. They operate at a lower level, emotionally. Successful performing, be it on the stage or behind a microphone, requires a high level of emotional expressiveness. Some of it gets lost in the transfer, so that unless I start out more emotional than "normal," by the time you perceive it, I sound flat.
You can tell these people they ought to be more emotional, but if they're truly operating at a less excited level than you or I -- as opposed to just needing permission to express what's really there -- all you get is more sing-song speech, which sounds a little less than credible. Like the way you sound, after the PD has told you to "pick up the pace."
Not everybody is cut out to be a radio personality. It's hard to know who just needs more time, and who ought to quit before he or she wastes any more. Often, these people, who are hard-working and dedicated to radio, eventually end up in sales, engineering and management; I think that's great. I'd hate for our business to lose anyone who cares so much about it.
Sometimes years go by before they realize, on their own, that they've been kidding themselves; we waste so much time growing up. My only point is to get you asking yourself these questions: "Given enough time and hard work, do I have the talent and the physical abilities to earn a good living as a radio personality? Or is there some fundamental problem which will hold me back, no matter how hard I work at it?"
The answer requires a great deal of self-honesty. But then, so does success as a performer.
--by Jay Trachman, circa 1995
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