Radio Grows Communication Skills

Dick Taylor

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Dick Taylor,  CRMC/CDMC

Having been in higher education for the past seven years, I heard a lot about the need for students to be fluent in the STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

A recent study from CSIRO found that STEM skills were indeed important during the period of 2009-2016, but that in the future occupations requiring communication skills will grow the fastest. As our world becomes more technologically enabled, what will keep humans from being replaced by robots will be their ability to connect, communicate, understand and build relationships.

Google It

We live in a world where skills change quickly and facts can be Googled from one’s smartphone. In order to be successful in the 21st Century, everyone must be able to work collaboratively and learn to be emotionally intelligent.

Those who possess the skills such as active listening, empathy and teamwork will grow in demand across all work sectors.

While we will still need people with STEM skills going forward, the numbers needed will decline as the work of programming will be done through artificial intelligence by the very machines that need it done.

Jobs requiring a high level of interpersonal and/or problem-solving skills are the ones that can’t be automated.

Radio’s Role in Developing Key Communication Skills

I was working in commercial radio when I was in the 10th grade in high school. What it taught me that school didn’t, was verbal communication skills. Being a radio personality means having to develop public speaking skills and being able to speak extemporaneously.

In radio, you learn how to serve a listener – both over the air, on the phone and on remote broadcasts.

Working in radio brought me closer to the community I lived in. I covered elections, breaking news, births and deaths, and was active in local charities.

Over my high school and college years, my radio work would see me hosting talk shows, buy-sell shows, gathering-writing-and-reporting news, playing Top 40 music, beautiful music, Irish music, Polish music, country music and middle-of-the-road music.

Each radio assignment required different communication skills.

Radio & Education

A quick check of the number of high school radio stations in the United States on Wikipedia shows about 250 currently on the air.

Students who are exposed to radio work as part of their high school education will not only find it to be a fun and exciting experience, they will also be acquiring the very critical communication skills that will help them grow personally and professionally.

People who can create exciting, engaging, stimulating and fun radio have what it takes to be successful in life.

Ronald Reagan

Our 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, was called “the great communicator.” President Reagan learned those critical communications skills as a radio broadcaster. First at WOC-AM1420 in Davenport, Iowa.

When WOC consolidated (yes, that kind of thing was happening back in the 1930s too) with WHO, Reagan would go on to recreate Chicago Cubs baseball games.

While doing one of these recreations in 1934, the wire service feeding the play-by-play descriptions of the game went dead. Reagan, knowing that other stations were also broadcasting this game, knew he had to hold his radio audience and would improvise saying hitters on both teams were hitting foul balls off of pitches until the wire was restored.

Radio builds your character in moments like that.

Orson Welles

The Mercury Radio Production on CBS, “War of the Worlds,” brought Orson Welles to the attention of Hollywood. One of the aspects Welles brought to the movie industry was his extensive radio experience. In his greatest film masterpiece, “Citizen Kane,” Welles used a combination of live sound with recorded sound to create an almost three-dimensional audio illusion for Charles Foster Kane.

Radio is what inspired Orson Welles to push the aural possibilities of the film medium.

Theater of the Mind

Radio has the ability to take a listener anywhere.

Radio also has the ability to provide the foundation to take the radio performer anywhere as well.

No matter what you want to do with your life, radio will give you the communication skill set to get you there.

Reprinted by permission.

Dick Taylor has been “Radio Guy” all his life and is a former professor of broadcasting at the School of Journalism & Broadcasting at Western Kentucky University (WKU) in Bowling Green, Kentucky and he’s currently seeking his next adventure.  Dick shares his thoughts on radio and media frequently at

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