The Value of Villains

 In Blog

Does your show have a villain or lightning rod character with an extreme, malicious, or mischievous point of view? The antagonist could be a cast member, a bumbling boss, or any character whose menacing ways highlight the host’s endearing characteristics.

If you have been coached by The Randy Lane Company, you know that our Role and Character Definition exercise helps to identify each talent’s personality traits. In that process, we often discover the lightning rod characters.

Successful radio shows use villains or “lightning rod” characters, to get reactions from listeners and to contrast the host. The syndicated Shoboy Show has the Micho Rizzo character who makes inappropriate and edgy comments to counterbalance the all-around good guy and family man, Shoboy.

Remember the famous scene in Private Partswith Howard Stern listening to his program director “Pig Virus” demonstrate how to deliver the call letters, “W-N-N-N-BC”? Howard made Pig Virus his villain, and Howard’s fans rallied behind him to defeat his enemy. Later in his terrestrial career, Howard used the FCC as the villain.

Wild Country 99 St. Cloud, MN’s Kelly and Wood cast our beloved Jeff McHugh as “Jeff the Angry Consultant.” They turned Jeff into a bad guy who is critical of the show and listeners are forceful in defending their hometown guys! Here’s a reaction text sent in by a listener who was upset that Jeff the Angry Consultant advised less talk and more music:

“You can share with your consultant that even though we love country music, we can hear that anytime. There is only a small window every day that we get to listen to your guy’s morning show. I would think that almost everyone would agree that is why we listen in the morning. Everyone talks about what you guys talked about in the mornings, not what country songs were played.”

Kidd Kraddick used to put me on the phone to play the hack morning show consultant with ridiculously bad ideas or to recommend he kill a popular feature. His fans would lash out at me and come to Kidd’s rescue. We used an alias to protect my reputation!

Surprisingly, lightning rod characters are relatable because they often say what we are thinking, but won’t say out loud. They can make us laugh, remind us of someone we know, and generate strong emotional reactions. That is a win for your show.

Photo by Josh Appel on Unsplash

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