Insights from Five Top Morning Hosts in Radio

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I joined Don Anthony to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Morning Show Boot Camp Thursday and Friday at the Grand Sheraton in Chicago.

MSBC is more important than ever to help radio stay relevant and thrive as a medium. It’s the only large-scale event solely dedicated to the evolvement, development, and mentoring of talent.

Sharing ideas doesn’t only take place in the sessions, but in the bars and restaurants, too. It’s gratifying to see this gathering continuing to grow and be attended by radio’s top talent, coaches, and programmers.

I was honored to host 30 Years of Top Takeaways from MSBC with a panel of five of the top morning show personalities in radio.

Here are a few highlights: 

Dave Ryan, morning host at KDWD Minneapolis: Read management books if you’re a host of an ensemble cast. You may be creative and talented but lack management skills.

Pop culture and showbiz news is so overdone. Talk about the Kardashians or Game of Thrones too much and you turn off people who don’t care.

Put down social media and live your life. Instagram doesn’t make you interesting, living your life does. is the best app for morning radio.

(Dave is an innovator and comes up with original content that many shows copy.)

Mojo, Channel 955 Detroit (syndicated): Take trips with your show to Costco, the mall, etc. for content and to build chemistry.

Each person on the show writes a journal on Sunday night about what they did over the last 48 hours. Then we share everything, looking for great content that will resonate with listeners.

The more money you can get attached to your name, the better your negotiations will go. Make it difficult to fire you because of the revenue you’re bringing in.

(The distinct personalities and strong appointment benchmarks that the show is known for, makes it one of Detroit’s long running successes.)

Jayde, of Todd & Jayde WPLJ New York: I can’t stress enough the importance of standing out on-air or at a convention. Have a bold point of view and don’t back down. Staying neutral without a clear viewpoint or revealing character is a recipe for mediocrity.

(By speaking out and being bold at her first MSBC, Jayde attracted the attention of Mike McVay, Cumulus EVP Content and Programming, and he ended up hiring her! Jayde is a rising star host.)

BJ Shea, of BJ and Migs KISW Seattle: We have an eight-person cast and we use the Rule of Three with only three people on mic at a time. Players are signaled or invited in rather than having an open mic. We always name check the player that comes into the conversation. Having no more than three people on mic at once prevents talking over each other and becoming a circus.

(BJ is the only host I’ve ever heard of whose daughter is one of the cast members. He shared that this creates awkward moments when the content gets too salacious.)

Kevin Ralston, of the KVJ Show WRMF West Palm Beach: Instead of trying to utilize all the available platforms, including social media, podcasts, videos, appearances, and blogging, zero in on the areas you are good at and do a great job of those instead of trying to spread yourself too thin.

Believe in or use an endorsement product or service, otherwise you won’t be passionate and credible.

If you’re not a crazy character host like me, put two crazy cohosts around you.

(Kevin is one of the most creative and copied hosts in radio because of his original content.)

I believe that the future of radio is talent and that air personalities are the great distinguishers of our medium in the mix of multiple platforms.

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