Movies, plays, and television shows depend on actors for success. Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, and Harrison Ford make stories come alive by breathing life into their character with a unique performance only they can deliver. They enhance the production in a way nobody else can. Even the best stories are made better because of them. But even the most celebrated actors in the world know their role in the production. They don’t change the script.

While this analogy isn’t perfect, it offers insights into the intricate relationship between directors and actors that are surprisingly applicable to radio shows and program directors as well.

Understanding Roles And Casting

Actors collaborate with directors, offering suggestions and feedback to enhance scenes and dialogue. However, they don’t change the story because it’s not their story to tell. That’s the director’s domain. Actors shape their characters, but the storyline is not in their purview.

It all starts with thoughtful casting. Directors should seek actors who fit individual roles and synergize as a cast. The actors become creative partners if they align with the director’s vision. If not, they may decline the opportunity if it doesn’t serve their brand or career objectives.

But once it’s accepted, actors are part of the story with a shared objective to work with the director and costars to create a hit.

Shared Responsibilities

Once cast, actors commit to bringing the story to life alongside their director and co-stars.

The Director must clearly articulate the project’s vision, provide the script, answer questions and concerns, and support the cast to give their best performances.

The Talent must execute their role with an enthusiastic commitment. They should ask for clarification and suggest ideas for improving the production, but the director makes final decisions and assigns responsibilities.

In other words, it’s not the actor’s movie. It belongs to the director.

The Radio Show Application

This dynamic resembles the relationship between radio personalities and Program Directors (PDs).

The PD starts with a vision for the station. They then create a script for the story. As part of the script, each cast member plays a role that contributes to the storyline.

Feedback is welcome, but going off-script is not. The Program Director wants the talent to be megastars because that’s how everyone succeeds.

But the show does not belong to the personalities. It belongs to the program director because that’s who is ultimately accountable for success or failure.

Why Some Personalities Change The Script

As a talent coach, I am regularly involved with conflict resolution, which usually stems from a breakdown in understanding, communication, and/or respect for the roles in this partnership. Most major problems can be avoided or resolved with proper communication when casting the show, then recognizing these three principles:

It’s About The Story. Even the most outstanding personalities cannot turn a bad script into a hit. Don’t take the gig if you don’t want to perform the show the PD is creating. If you’re on a show or station that you disagree with, either get on board or get out. It’s not going to work in the long run. Even in a tight hiring environment, make sure it’s a fit.

Great Talent Breathes Life Into The Story. Even the best program directors will not have a blockbuster hit without great talent making it happen. Talent makes a good story (station) great. But if it’s going to work, the talent must understand their role if they’re going to perform it well. If you haven’t communicated your vision for the show, tomorrow would be a good time to do it.

Flexibility. As personalities become more proficient, their feedback on the story will become more valuable. Just as an Oscar-winning actor provides important input, suggestions should be considered and welcomed. But that leverage is earned, not bestowed.


Conflict between personalities and directors can usually be preemptively resolved with transparent communication when casting the show. If expectations are established early, there should never be a conflict over a personality trying to change the script.

There are bound to be speed bumps, as it is in all relationships. But if both parties understand their roles, are committed to mutual success, and respect each other’s expertise, talent and directors can achieve a harmonious, successful production. And that applies in Hollywood and on your radio station

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