When it comes to attracting an on-air audience, no one knows how to do it better than our very own Katey McGuckin-Woolam who was a radio personality in the Kansas City area for over 25 years. Recently I had the privilege to sit down with Katey to discuss her career and how she brought her morning show to one of the top listened to programs in the country.
Katey, can you tell me a little about yourself and how you got into broadcasting?
I fell into the career. Early on I auditioned for the morning drive news girl at an AOR station called KY-102 in Kansas City. Out of 200 women, I got the job and since I was a “student of the theatre,” I had to learn the job on the fly. Each morning my news was delivered to me by the AM new station. In fact, they would literally set it outside the news door… they were not fond of the “rockers” on FM. Luckily after a few months I won the heart of the hard-core news director by bringing him donuts every morning for him and his crew… if there is one thing that broadcasters love it’s free food and coffee. I ended up getting a desk in his newsroom and learned under fire. At that point, I was hooked. Slowly but surely I moved to nights, then middays and back to morning drive with another station in KC. I spent 22 years loving radio and then started doing a TV mid-day show. Broadcasting become my love.
How did you prepare each day for your show?
It was around the clock hard work. But really it boils down to becoming an observer of people… I mean you have to find the funny in those everyday moments and relate it back to your audience. I always had a notebook with me to scribble down notes, I read the paper on an early morning basis and constantly kept up with all that I could online. My goal was to stay in touch with my audience. I included my sons and husband into the discussion. In fact, the audio of the birth of my second son was recorded and played on the radio but edited down of course. One year we were live from my house the first day of school for my second son. Again, I shared common experiences with my audience and it kept them coming back every day.
What methods did you use to gain your audience participation both online and on-air?
You have to be in tune with your demographic. We always included them in on topics, games and catered to their needs throughout all channels. We talked to them, not at them. We were always out with the audience during events, remotes and staying in touch with them online. The more you can integrate yourself into their everyday world, the better. And that includes both online and on-air.
If you had a chance to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Not a thing! I loved my audience and my time on-air. But I guess if I could do anything different I would have learned the power of my sales team sooner. It took me awhile to get the hang of it but I absolutely loved working with them and coming up with ideas for advertisers. For me there was nothing better than writing cleaver copy and using the advertisers when we went live during the morning show.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be on-air talent?
Be genuine, be yourself and put your audience first. It’s a very competitive environment, so make yourself stand out. Having well-rounded knowledge of the entire station is key. In fact, I would suggest getting to know your sales team early on and/or take sales training to know the other side of the station. Remember you are only as big as your call letters so be willing to do anything for the station. Make your station the place that people want to tune into. Find out what they like, where they go and what they do.
Does working in broadcast media excite you? Have you always wanted to become on-air talent but wasn’t sure of all that is involved? We have a series of videos that can walk you through the process so you can see if this would be a career fit for you. Sign in and watch courses such as TV Reporting Career: What It Takes. If you don’t have an active account with P1 Learning, click here to sign up for a free 7-day trial!