In the 80’s the then WWF, now WWE, and its owner, Vince McMahon, started to use the term “sports entertainment.” The cat was out of the bag – the matches were predetermined, but

don’t call it fake. It is very athletic storytelling – live theater, like Broadway or community theater groups. Wrestlers are professional entertainers.


In today’s radio, we need to learn how to entertain. We are not just DJ’s, announcers, or newscasters. We entertain, and we need to think of ourselves as entertainers and storytellers. Radio stations need to become the WrestleMania in their marketplace.


Building a Story


Storytelling is what pro wrestling is all about. The story is told in many ways. In-ring action between two or more people, death defying moves to describe the story, good guy vs. bad guy, the referee who never catches what the bad guy does, and on TV and pay-per-views the announcers all add to the story.


So how does that relate to radio? Hopefully, we don’t have bad guys, but everything we do tells the story of the radio station, no matter the format. The music, the drops and liners, the promo’s, the news, the announcers, and, yes, even the commercials build the story of the radio station. If we do our job, we build an audience; if we build an audience, it is easier to sell advertising; if we don’t have advertising, we don’t have money to build an audience. Everything we do on the radio tells the story of the radio station.


A pro wrestling audience is like no other. Thousands of voices screaming, yelling, and chanting the wrestlers’ catch phrases, like the Rock’s “If you smell what the Rock is cooking” and Daniel Bryan’s “Yes, Yes, Yes.” Audiences sing along with Chris Jericho’s song and entrance music “Judas in My Mind.” The audience becomes part of the story of pro wrestling. In radio, we need to let our listeners become part of our story. We can take phone calls and do contests, but remember that most listeners will never call, so how do we make them a part of our story? We relate to what they are doing – waking up, going to work, hanging around the house, cooking inside or outside, or driving in the car. Our storylines should make the listener feel like they are part of what we are doing.


Enhancement Talent


Pro wrestlers are stars. Names like Hulk Hogan, Rick Flair, Andre the Giant, and Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. How did they become stars? Enhancement talents – a performer who helps put that star “over” or in other words, makes the star look great to the audience.


The radio “star” is only as good as those who make him or her look good, from engineering to traffic, to sales, to promotions. They all work together to develop the radio star. Who is the star? The star is the radio station.




“Promo” is a term used in radio all the time. In pro wrestling when a wrestler cuts a promo, they are promoting a future in-ring event. The best promos are the ones where the wrestler’s emotions are at the forefront. They use descriptive terms to say what they will do to their opponent when the match takes place. They use catch phrases that are unique to their wrestling persona. “Whatcha gona do when Hulkamania runs wild on you.” “Do you smell what the Rock is cooking.” “WOOO!” Catch phrases make the promo interesting and entertaining.


In a radio promo we are using our on-air time to promo or promote the station. Passion, descriptive words, and catch phrases are the station’s positioning statement – the phrase that makes people remember who they listen to and why. A promo can be short, or long, but the art of the promo is to make it informative and entertaining.




A good pro wrestler has spent years developing their craft. There are wrestling schools that teach how to take a “bump.” A bump is basically falling or taking a punch without getting hurt. Wrestlers learn to take a bump by practicing.


Ric Flair tells the story of going to his hotel room at night and hanging up a thread. He would then throw punches at the thread, hard punches, but pull the punch at the last minute so the string would not move.


Pro wrestlers constantly work on moves, promo’s, and more. The successful wrestlers continue to learn all the time.


In radio we have lost our training ground. Radio schools are almost gone and very few universities teach radio broadcasting. How do we learn the art of radio? The same way pro wrestlers learn their moves. We practice, and not like Allen Iverson we improve through practice. 


The days of the small market DJ moving all around the country paying his dues and learning his craft are all but gone and that has hurt our business tremendously. Music stations have their announcers reading little cue cards or liner cards (that has its place, but it has become a crutch). Because of the liner card, we have lost creativity. Small-market radio stations want to sound like big-market stations which has made radio boring.


Wrestling has different kinds of matches to peak interest – one on one, tag teams, handicap matches, battle royals, street fights, lumberjack matches, and championship matches. Why not just have one-on-one wrestling matches? The different kinds of matches create excitement and help tell a story.


Stick with your format, but also find different ways to present your radio station. Not all ideas will work on all radio stations. In the 70’s something untried became an iconic part of radio. American Top 40 with Casey Kasem is still going strong years after Casey’s death.


To survive we need our radio stations to become the training ground. We need to practice, practice, practice, all the time. Air check sessions with someone else critiquing is a great way to learn. We must listen to ourselves and critique ourselves all the time. Not just the “air talent” but every department of our radio station must self-evaluate and look for ways to get better at telling our story.


To paraphrase Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Rock, “And that’s the bottom line” because the bottom line is what we are looking to improve. So give me a “hell yeah” if you “can smell what I am “cooking.”