In these Radiowaves-exclusive articles, legendary presenter Pat Courtenay shares his views, ideas, experience, and tips with our visitors…

In this week’s column Pat opens a discussion on Personality Jocks

PERSONALITY JOCKS… What a pack o’ w@%#ers!

Do you ever ask yourself what you’d be doing if you hadn’t chosen Broadcasting as a career? My own list includes some pretty diverse options; criminal lawyer, fighter-pilot, professional cricketer, career diplomat, rock star, Formula One driver….you know the sort of thing.

As diverse as those choices might be, they all have one thing in common. They’re flashy. They all provide the opportunity to be the centre of attention. They all involve performance. One time in Dublin in the mid-80s, I was trying to improve a particular jock’s performance: my biggest problem was overcoming his shyness, and I was failing miserably. Finally, in frustration, I stopped an aircheck tape mid-stream and asked him if he realised how much sheer power he was working with every time he walked into a studio. Was he not blown away by the fact that there were gigantic transmitters blasting his every word across enormous chunks of the planet? Did he not feel a heady thrill at the notion that all this massive muscle was guaranteeing that someone, somewhere was definitely always going to hear his voice?

Not a flicker. Not a single goosebump. In fact, I got the distinct feeling that all I was doing was frightening the poor lad!

At that point, I gently suggested that perhaps a career in pharmacy or something might be a better course to plot. (Turned out he landed a short gig with RTÉ, but that organisation wasn’t exactly spinning our wheels in those days, was it?)

So many people get into The Business because they feel in some way inadequate. Maybe they were the classroom mouse; maybe they had bad skin and couldn’t kick shite off a rope; maybe their greatest success with the opposite sex was a solitary business inspired by the poster on the bedroom wall.

But all of a sudden, Radio temptingly offers the chance to be someone they’ve never been; the chance to be none of the things they don’t like being. I will never be convinced that this is a great starting-point. I still think that it’s unhealthy to be someone you’re not, when you’re trying to communicate with people who are pretty comfortable with who they themselves are.

There’s great discussion these days on the subject of the “Radio personality.” If you’re a “straight” jock who “wants to develop into a personality,” please bear in mind that everyone in the world has a personality – as I wrote the other day; even Hitler had one, it just wasn’t very nice. The trick is to develop the performing persona that you’ll broadcast. I always get the feeling that Jerry Seinfeld couldn’t be accused of having much in common with Ghandi when we’re talking personality. However, his performing persona, while it’s kinda nasty, is a huge success.

The things we most want are very rarely the things we most need. “Straight” jocks, get straight right and all that wonderful power we have in Radio won’t embarrass you. Remember that once you start to be defined as a personality, you’re deliberately choosing to walk a very high rope over a very deep canyon and if you slip, you might never get the chance to get up there again.

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