In the last few weeks, a certain porn star has been in the news – in fact, she's often led the news cycle. Stormy Daniels – believe her, despise her, ignore her – has generated a lot of talk and even more buzz.
In fact, AdAge offered up an analysis by Simon Dumenco: “Decoding The Stormy Daniels Brand,” listing 7 characteristics that have made America's best known porn star a household name.
And in a twist on the old morning show bit, “Pro Wrestler or Porn Star,” today's post contrasts what has made Stormy Daniels a success with traits that many of the most success radio personalities share.
Not all of Dumenco's examples hold up, but most are on-point. And for good measure, I've added a few of my own.
1. Have a catchy name
For Stormy Daniels (real name: Stephanie Clifford), she certainly came up with a memorable brand. And for radio stars, that name can make a difference. As someone who moderates a ton of focus groups and sits through scores of perceptual research studies, a name that grabs you can go a long way toward driving top-of-mind awareness – and ultimately, even loyalty.
Yes, there are some real names that have worked well – Arthur Penhallow and Don Imus come to mind. But many invented names have helped radio personalities stand out – like Stormy. DJs who have adopted names like Bubba the Love Sponge, Mancow, Jed the Fish, Jacky Bam Bam, and Chuck the Freak all go a long way toward building recognition.
2. Prove you're a star
You may be surprised to learn Stormy Daniels isn't just another run-of-the-mill porn actress. Dumenco notes she's held the #1 ranking on Pornhub, generating well over 24 million views (all of which are increasing every time she makes news these days). That's like being a top-rated personality show in the Nielsen ratings and having a successful podcast.
It turns out she ‘s appeared in more than 250 films, has been inducted into numerous halls of fame, and has appeared in mainstream feature films (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”).
Whether in the porn world or the radio industry, earning your chops is the price you pay for building and establishing a brand. Radio personalities who have stayed with it, excelled at their craft, and spread their brands to other media and platforms tend to have more staying power than those who have settled for “Four and out the door.”
3. Run the show
Stormy Daniels hasn't just starred on the screen – she's directed more than 90 films. And she's achieved honors for her work behind the camera. Dumenco reports that porn critics believe her films tend to have more substance – dialogue and plot – than the genre's norm.
On the radio side of the ledger, personalities who have programmed have a decided advantage. They know the architecture, and have a firm understanding of how ratings are made. They also have an intuitive senses of how to manage talent – because that's where they've come from and who they are.
4. Master social media
Dumenco points out Stormy was an early Twitter devotee, signing up in 2009 (one month before Trump). She interacts with fans – and trolls – and shamelessly engages.
Twitter is Daniels' social platform of choice, and she uses it well, mixing it up, and attracting lots of media attention with her tweets – just like Trump.
Her Twitter feed is always a fun read.
For radio personalities, a mastery of social media is essential, particularly during an age when few are promoted by their stations. Building a strong, loyal fan base in the social ecosphere is also a guarantee that as talent inevitably moves around, they can take their followers with them.
Jocks and hosts can't always express their total personalities on the air for obvious reasons. But social media provides a different stage – one in which their interests and personal likes and dislikes can shine.
Mature radio hosts who haven't cultivated the social sphere only hold themselves back. Personalities who commit time and energy to social media can star in their own movie – at no cost except time.
5. Know your power
The “60 Minutes” interview clearly illustrated how Daniels uses her wit, humor, and satire to her advantage – whether she's confronting a client, a director, Anderson Cooper, or the next President of the United States.
She knows why people are interested in her, and plays her assets expertly. In spite of the fact she's a porn star, Daniels exudes the same attitude online, in interviews, and even in the way her attorney – Michael Avenatti – manages and manipulates her case and her PR.
And so it is with air personalities who tend to be more successful when they're real and when they embrace the area in which they can excel. Whether it's prank calls, musicology, great interviews, concerts, or community service, the personalities we talk about know their lane – and stay in it.
And below are my additional DJ/porn star analogies – intersections where success in either industry is often dependent on many of the same things:
6. Know your audience
Porn and radio are just different wings in the entertainment business. And an axiom of both is to have a firm grasp on who will find your act appealing.
The very best porn stars, from the early days of burlesque to the Internet era, had an intuitive sense about who occupies the seats. Understanding the demographics and psychographics of the audience is key to pleasing them and winning their loyalty, their time, and even their money.
And it's a truism in radio, too. It's essential programmers clearly communicate detail on the target audience so on-air personalities can more effectively connect with listeners in cars, at home, and at work.
But as our Techsurveys have illustrated, most people connect with radio emotionally – for companionship, mood elevation, and to relieve stress. Yes, not far flung from the porn business.
It's important that talent work at their understanding of who's out there and why. The best of the best know exactly who's playing along at home, at work, or in the car.
7. Be in sales
The best porn and radio stars have long acknowledged it's all about the art of the sale. The former – like Stormy Daniels – need to be cast in films, while selling themselves to directors, producers, and of course, their fans. For bigger projects, sponsors come into play, too.
In radio, the most successful personalities have become adept at making the sale. Whether it's in the way they snare that next job in a larger market or work directly with clients on sponsorships and promotions.
And of course, radio superstars know how to connect with the ultimate buyers – fans – in person and at personal appearances. They are gifted in the fine art of working the room, charming listeners and clients both.
Yes, that sounds a lot like the success model for porn stars, too.
8. Be in showbiz
Whether it's a dancer working that backroads club in a small town off the interstate or a Stormy Daniels who's a high-profile celebrity in the field, it's all about the showbiz and flash talent brings to the party, day in and day out.
Radio is very much the same way. Personalities who understand they're in the entertainment industry put in the required time, prep, and execution into their craft. They don't get bored (or at least it sounds like they aren't), and they've learned the art of sounding pumped up to be on the air every day.
They know how entertain – on the air, online, and on the street. They're comfortable with their celebrity, they embrace it, and know how to use it.
The Stormy Daniels saga may end up just being another blip on the political radar screen or another odd story on the tabloid talk shows. Or it may blow up to become a scandal people will talk about for years.
In any case, her trajectory offers up lessons for radio personalities for all stripes, looking to make a name, create a brand, and generate buzz.
You may start out as Stephanie Clifford, a young girl from Baton Rouge or as a high school kid in Muskegon or Moline who aspires to be the next Elvis Duran, Howard Stern, or Ryan Seacrest. What you make of your career, your persona, and ultimately, your celebrity in porn or in radio is right there in front of you.
There is no limit to what you can do.
While we won't ask about porn consumption, I'm happy to tell you we'll be fielding the first-ever radio survey conducted among talent in the coming weeks with the results presented at Morning Show Boot Camp 30 in Chicago this summer. Details here.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.
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