3 minute read

In our industry it’s the $64 question and depending on the market size I may have missed a couple of zeroes in that equation.

In Episode 1 of Game Changers Radio I spoke to Marty Sheargold about chemistry.

Now before you read his response, just a reminder that this bloke knows a thing or two about developing chemistry with his on-air partners. From the extraordinary rapport that he and Fifi Box had on the Shebang where he played the Lennon,(brooding, dry, laconic) to her McCartney which was all sunshine, warmth and lightness.

It was perfect.

Then he found an entirely different dynamic, but equally as effective with Mishel Lawrie and Tim Blackwell which started in breakfast at Nova Brisbane and took them all the way to number nationally in drive on Nova.
He and Tim have now combined with Kate Ritchie who brings a very different performance to what Mishel offered, but at the heart of what they’re doing there is a genuine connection both in the studio and with their audience.

So what is chemistry, according to Marty?

Chemistry is the key, anyone can fix content but if you haven’t got chemistry you’re wasting your time.
It’s an ease of conversation…it’s a turn of phrase and it’s a comfortability between people that just does or doesn’t happen….
You cannot force it. It’s either there or it’s not.
And it doesn’t need to be a loving relationship, chemistry can be equally negative but still really present and make great radio.
Conflict can be as interesting as people getting along.

Working out whether your show has chemistry and whether it can develop a rapport with your audience is, without question, the single most important question you need to answer.

Everything flows from it.

Can chemistry develop and grow over time? Absolutely, but only if there’s a concerted effort from everyone working on your project to really understand and exploit the unique dynamic that your team has.

So what can you do to increase your chances of building rapport and that “ease of conversation” which Marty talks about?

1. Spend time together. In the early stages of a new show it’s important that you make a commitment to to learn about each other. The more you understand about the nuances and unique personality traits of your co-host, the more content you can share with them on the air.

2. Listen for your best moments. When does the show feel like it’s doing it’s best work? What is the dynamic of the the team during these moments? If you can organise your planning and content choices around the team always playing to it’s natural strengths then confidence and self-assurance will flow from that.

3. Be selfless. Understand that breakfast radio is a team sport. You can’t possibly have a great show or a successful on air career without the support of the team around you. One of the most important questions you need to answer before you start a new shift is “how can I help my co-host do their best work today?”

Lorne Michael said this about new shows “there’s never been a cast that anyone has liked in the beginning”.

This is true but as a programmer there is just one thing you’re listening for that will give your new show a chance of succeeding.

Chemistry.