by Tracy Johnson
How many times have you been in an air check session and spent most of the time trying to figure out how to create an emergency so you can escape? Usually, air check sessions suck.
Everyone hates meetings, and air check meetings are the worst. But they don’t have to be.
Here are six reasons air check sessions suck, and how you can make them less painful.
To make air check meetings less painful, first identify why they suck in the first place. That’s half the battle. When you know that, you can take proactive steps to make it better.
Here are six reasons:
Most meetings are monotonous because every air check is just like the one before. Programmers become a broken record. Keep it shorter. Sell the call letters. You could even have an air check session in just five minutes.
When the meeting drags on and the PD repeats the same point, talent listens but doesn’t hear. They’ve become numb to the same message over and over.
Need some help delivering a new message, or the same message in a new way? There are 18 air check themes here.
Air check meetings suck because talent hates to hear themselves. It’s embarrassing, and they’re vulnerable. They know when the mistakes are coming up, and that’s all they hear. Air check sessions should be designed to point out positives, growth and improvement. Spend most of the session listening for the best moments and celebrate them.
Some programmers love to spend the meeting pointing out flaws and how to correct them. It’s not a requirement, you know. It’s okay to be positive and find good things. So go into it with a positive attitude, looking for strong points.
Meetings usually happen right after the show, before personalities can escape for the day. This is the worst time to do it.
The show’s already put in a full day of work. Their day is almost over and they’re looking forward to the next one. And now a meeting to rehash what’s already happened?
The timing may be convenient for you, but they’re fried.
Find another time to schedule it. Maybe meet for drinks in the afternoon or an early dinner.
Effective meetings require preparation. PD’s and coaches should prepare for the meeting at least as thoroughly as they expect talent to plan their show each day. That means you have to listen, organize your thoughts and have a plan.
Plan to spend at least as much time prepping an air check as you expect from them to prepare a show. Yeah, it’s hard and you’re busy. But that’s part of the responsibility of having a morning show.
They’re too long and too formal. Management feels that the meeting needs to fill an hour to be effective. That’s not productive, it’s punishment.
Speaking of length, stopwatches should be banned from your office in evaluating breaks. Nothing destroys talent more than telling them that you liked their break because it was short. Yes, that actually happened in an air check meeting.
If the only thing you have to say to talent about their show is about how long they’re talking, you aren’t prepared for the meeting.
The important thing: Is talent delivering their personality within the boundaries of the audience’s expectation? If so, don’t worry about length. If your station’s morning show is built around an expectation for a lot of music, a 10-minute talk break violates the primary reason listeners are coming to you. This makes length an issue. Use the meeting to talk about these strategic concepts.
Meetings tend to lack a specific focus. The conversation is too broad, and often lacks focus. When this happens, it drifts into areas that are not actionable. Nothing gets done.
You should always be working on 1-2 things. Focus the attention on improvement in those areas.
Following these six guidelines won’t guarantee your meetings don’t suck, but it is a good start! Air check sessions are an important part of coaching talent effectively. Invest time and effort into it and you’ll be rewarded.
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