Psychics on the air can be great. And they can be horrible.
Many broadcasters have come to a conclusion they shouldn’t have them on. Ever. Others love the phone action so much they turn it into a weekly feature like Psychic Thursday.
Psychics can be highly entertaining. And they can also produce a giant “so what” listener response. But, a good one can create great stories.
To repeat my standard advice regarding what makes great content: It depends on what you do with it.
Here’s what determines whether a psychic works on the air or not:
Considerations For a Psychic On The Air?
First have a strategic plan and specific reason for the psychic appearance on the air. Do they fit the brand image? Is it compatible with the format? What will the audience think of it?
Then, go a little deeper in thinking it through. WHy are they coming on? What is the reason for the appearance? Is it a one-time shot or a recurring feature? Or is it a regular, weekly segment?
Maybe it’s a once per year visit, around a holiday like Halloween. Or in the first week of a new year making predictions. Or as a special guest for a specific reason, such as solving a mystery.
Once that is decided, it’s time to think about how to execute a psychic guest.
The most important element in making this work on the air is managing the calls, and by extension, the content.
The standard questions of “Will I find love” or “Should I look for a new job” become boring fast. Like after 1 or 2 calls. Because nobody cares about the individual asking the question. It’s just not entertaining.
Be sure to screen the callers so they’re interesting, and bring diverse stories to the show. Each caller should have a story, not just a general question. That means the phone screener is going to say “no” to a lot of callers hoping to get on the air.
By the way, a good segment with a psychic on the air doesn’t need many calls to make it work. One or two great stories are better than moving through a lot of calls that listeners don’t care about.
Obviously, the psychic should have a track record and some credibility. There are a lot of shady performers.
But more than that, they must know how to interact on the air. Performing on the air for an audience is a different skill than readings with customers in a private room or a phone call.
The psychic should fit into the fabric of your show, format and brand identity, not take it over. And they must be flexible enough to respond naturally to anything thrown their way.
For best results, screen the psychics in advance. Meet them in person. Then perform a demo show with fake callers in a production studio. It’s important to know how they play on the air.
Some personalities use a psychic for specific stories. That’s how Dave Ryan does it on KDWB/Minneapolis.
He brought on a psychic to help him tell one story, to help a woman say goodbye to her dead fiancé. In doing so, he brought out the intrigue and mystery of the story in a more tangible, interesting way.
In other words, the segment should be about the story, not the psychic!
Having a psychic on the air is a tool to help personalities entertain. Used this way,it can be a powerful tool.