Magic Words


As a child, you were taught the magic words. And if you’re a parent, you’ve passed them on to your kids … Saying “Please” when you ask for something communicates respect and “Thank You” expresses gratitude to the other person. What makes these words magical? It’s because they transform us, if for only a moment, from me-focused to others-focused. They actually draw people closer to us.

Radio shows also have magic words that draw listeners in closer.

Magic Word 1: YOU

Every connective break starts with YOU (the listener) in mind and talks to just one person. Not “you all”, “you guys”, or “everyone”. Those are references to groups of people that may or may not include me. And please never, ever refer to things “in the studio” … put yourself in the car or kitchen with your listener. Talk directly to HER.

Magic Word 2: STORY

Don Hewitt, creator of 60 Minutes, the oldest and most-watched newsmagazine on television, revealed the secret of the shows’ success was simple, “it’s four little words: tell me a story.” Story is not ever merely a transfer of information. Apps are really good at providing information: news, weather, song titles, etc. It takes real people with real emotion to tell good stories. Want to become a better broadcaster? Become a better storyteller.

Magic Word 3: FEELING

Listeners can get songs anywhere. People come back to a radio station or show that creates an experience and makes them feel something. Everything between the songs must create an emotional experience. “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou. If you’re going to stop the music to talk, make me feel something.

For radio to compete with Audible, Apple, and Amazon, we’ve got to retain the magic by telling stories that engage the audience with a sense of wonder from the first line: “It was the best of times … it was the worst of times”.

This post originally appeared as an article on


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