by Tracy Johnson
In a perfect world, air talent would receive regular, constructive comments. The PD would be supportive and upbeat. And upper management would act as a protective shield from other departments and a critical public. In this make-believe world, talent could celebrate aircheck meetings.
But that’s not happening. As Fred Jacobs pointed out at Morning Show Boot Camp, the vast majority of personalities are rarely or never given feedback. And worse, his survey found that more than half feel no support at all from management. That needs to be fixed.
The biggest barrier is time, Everyone is busy. And it’s easy to push the aircheck meeting down the priority list until it disappears entirely. After all, everyone dreads critique sessions. Talent already knows the breaks that sucked.
Jimmy Kimmel explains what reviewing his performance is like:
I look back at every show I’ve ever done and cringe. My vision of hell is a bunch of monitors with my old shows running on them.
There are many excellent methods of evaluating and training talent, but one guideline should be at the center of each: and that is the aircheck meeting. It shouldn’t be a painful experience. Some personalities even come to love airchecks.
Evaluating a show should never be an exercise to stroke egos or an excuse to be critical. Both are a waste of time. The goal should be to seek excellence. If this is a genuine goal of all parties, reviews will be productive and maybe even fun.
So what makes some sessions fun and productive and others about as much fun as a tax audit? Let’s examine the differences.
Every evaluation should be to work together toward a mutual (and previously established) goal. That takes criticism out of the meeting and turns it into a session for finding solutions.
With that in mind, here are some tips on how to celebrate aircheck meetings:
While it’s necessary to talk about performance shortcomings, focus energy on brainstorming other methods or techniques that could have replaced what was done. This is constructive and leads to growth.
It would be wonderful to simply identify the problem, discuss it, and have the problem fixed tomorrow. But that’s not how it works. It takes time and exploration with the coach to discover how to apply techniques to their show.
Growing as an air personality is like improving at golf. They spend hours and hours in lessons, working on techniques and making adjustments. When the skills become muscle memory, their game reaches the next level.
Training talent is creating muscle memory for performance. And that takes patience.
It can be difficult to recognize progress because improvement happens in small increments over time.
A great way to gain perspective is keeping an archive of airchecks of each personality. Save at least one or two shows a month. Then compare today’s performance to the past. It’s like taking snapshots at various times in the life cycle of a Personality Success Path.
This simple tactic helps the coach and talent realize how the hard work pays off and turns otherwise mundane meetings into celebrations.
Sometimes talent slips into habits that are more annoying to the coach than the audience. These habits still need to be addressed before they become bigger issues, and aircheck sessions are a good time to discuss it.
It may be something as simple as a recurring phrase that has crept into the show. It’s not a big deal, and it’s easy to fix (usually). Small tweaks and tips produce small, quick gains. And that can be another reason to celebrate.
Aircheck meetings can start a dialogue that leads to breakthrough growth and new ideas. Use the time together to understand the talent’s concerns, fears, and problems. This can be as valuable as listening to audio together. And many times, it’s even more important.
This will give insight into barriers that can be addressed. Then, work on helping them deal with the situation to break down those barriers and help them achieve their goals.
Effective coaching isn’t just criticism, but teaching, encouraging, and empowering talent. Productive sessions explore ‘why’ rather than ‘what’ and investigate new ideas rather than focusing on failures.
Talent responds to being shown that they are appreciated. Invest the time and energy. Turn those dreaded sessions and learn to celebrate aircheck meetings.
Yes, it takes time. But this should be a priority for all programmers and managers. Air personalities are the key to radio’s future.
If you need help in this area, contact us. We work with programmers and talent and can produce amazing results.
The best way to cause listeners to fall in love with you and become raving fans is to make them laugh. And you can learn to do that by using the tips and techniques in this seminar.
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