Get That Gig: Fix These 3 Common Air Check Demo Mistakes

Get That Gig: Fix These 3 Common Air Check Demo Mistakes

by Andy Meadows

As personalities and programmers anxiously look for a way to get attention from broadcasters to Get That Gig, it’s common to spend hours in the studio putting together a demo to improve their chances. We review hundreds of packages a year, and have noticed some common air check demo mistakes to take note of before flooding the radio job market with applications.

First, remember that nothing is more important than the air check demo attached to the application email. You’ve spent a  career learning to attract an audience on the air. Apply that skill set to the air check. In this case, the “audience” is a busy, overworked hiring manager digging through hundreds of submissions to find their next superstar. Your goal should be to get their attention so they hear the potential  that you can lift their station.

That  may get you to the Potential Hire folder. And that’s the only goal of the first contact. So build the demo air check to accomplish that single goal. And just as a winning air personality learns to avoid mistakes that cost ratings, here are a few common air check demo mistakes to avoid in targeting that audience of one.

Air Check Demo Mistakes #1: Ease Up On The Imaging

When radio personalities create their audio sizzle reel, it is often filled with station or show imaging. That’s great on the air (maybe). But you’re applying for an on-air gig as a personality, not as Imaging Director job.

Don’t waste those valuable seconds of audio inventory showcasing the station’s voice guy. It’s okay to use a quick imager to set a mood somewhere in the demo if it seems absolutely necessary. Just don’t let it get in the way of showing off your personality.

We’ve listened to thousands of air checks and nearly every demo filled with too much production causes us to lose focus on listening. And that’s something you can’t afford to happen.

Commercials & Live Reads Aren’t Needed

Most of the time, the decision maker is a programmer listening for how you can make her station better. The skill to perform commercial reads is valuable, but not in the first demo, and it doesn’t impress a PD looking for a great personality to attract an audience.

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So avoid commercial production and live reads. If this happens to be a strength, make a separate commercial demo available. Just don’t include it in the initial email. Have it ready for a follow up if requested.

Emphasize Personality Performance, Not Information or Mechanics

Every demo that includes an on-air personality reading the weather causes the decision maker to assume this personality has few good personality segments to include.

Most gigs are for personalities that add to the entertainment value. PD’s aren’t looking for announcers who only execute the mechanics of their format. So get rid of those station liners and promos, especially if you’re just reading them.

This type of basic content can be in an air check demo, as long as it is conversational and filled with personality. Demonstrate that you can breathe life into everything that comes out of the speakers. The hiring manager expects you to be able to relate a weather forecast or read a liner card.

Bonus: 5 Things To Include In The Demo

After removing those three common air check mistakes, some personalities may be back at the beginning. If you’re wondering what should be on the demo, here are 5 strong content choices:

Audio Interaction. Show how you can relate to the audience with phone calls or other strategic uses of listener audio.

Hooks and Teases. The PD is your listener. Show them how you can command listener attention by intriguing them with strong teases and hooks

Creative Inside Features. More and more, stations are realizing the value of appointment-setting features for their station. Show how well you can execute a branded feature with personality and creativity.

Storytelling Skills. Every personality has a strength in telling specific types of stories or presenting content that puts them in the best light. Of course you won’t put anything that doesn’t make you sound good, but emphasize the types of things that show off your strengths.

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Segments That Show Versatility. Include all types of content that puts a spotlight on what makes you a unique, valuable air talent.  Avoid making the whole demo one type of bit. Fill that air check with great material from the entire assortment of your strengths.


Of course, avoiding these common air check demo mistakes is just a start. The personality that wins that gig is going to be the one that stands out.

As you plan your Get That Gig strategy, invest the time to create a killer demo that represents your personality and ability. And, it might not be a bad idea to get some outside help. That’s why we offer private, personal Air Check Coaching sessions. Click here for details, and to schedule a session.

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