The vast majority of the work you will do will be commonplace writing that includes the key elements: who, what, where, when why.
It is the stories that offer a opening to be creative that allow you to take risks and expand your originality. When I was a radio reporter covering the Washington Redskins, I used to close every report I did which ranged from 25-40 seconds with the tag line: Covering the Redskins, I’m Bram Weinstein except that I said my name with a particular twang that is came out more like “Covering the Redskins, I’mBramWeinsteeeeeeiiiiiinnn.” Initially, this was not done on purpose. I was too verbose when writing my reports and for the purpose of saving time, I naturally did this. It oddly became a signature for me, but it was natural and organic. The point is, catch phrases don’t always have to be a resounding “Boo yah.” They can incorporate other moments of air time, just make sure it’s who you are, not what you are projecting to be. Acting and selling is part of the job. But these job are not for actors, salesmen or comedians by trade. There are numerous examples of comedy writers who think broadcasting is easy only to find they haven’t mastered the delivery for their jokes. There are also many more examples of broadcasters who treat their jobs like an audition tape for Weekend Update of Saturday Night Live and few if any fit that mold either.
Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann were masters at using comedy within the context of the shows they performed together. Neither are going on a stand up tour. But both are among the most successful cross over talents from the sports industry. They have an natural understanding of time and place, as well as effective delivery. The best advice I can give is watch the broadcasters you like and keep in mind how often they take a shot at humor, you may see it is not as often as you remember. That’s the beauty of being on air for long periods of time, producing a couple of memorable moments are all that are necessitated for the viewer to look upon you favorably. Try to hard too often and it will show. David Letterman started on TV news. He’s the rare example of someone who found his calling being a broadcast formatted comedian. I can’t imagine how memorable his ten day forecasts were.
Humor is a craft. It takes time to find your voice. It takes time to find your delivery style. And in turn, it takes time to develop a repore with viewers so that they can come to expect to laugh. Understanding that curve is imparitive. You want viewers to connect with you, to see the real you while you inform them of the show’s content. Make sure it is as organic as possible. Your friends may know you as the funny one. The viewers only know you for the 3 to 60 minutes a day they see you. Build that trust. They’ll reward you with loyalty.
Radio performers are under different parameters. The expectation is you will entertain on some level. But know your audience. Plus, consider this, a great comedian spends months if not years building a 45 minute set. You’ll be on air at least one hour every day. Howard Stern and some other morning show hosts are the rarist of the rare where they can maintain humor for that period of time day in day out. If you are one of these people, you aren’t reading this book. You don’t need help with nuances of broadcasting. Be funny. But be funny when it feels right.