by Tracy Johnson
An increasingly common complaint from radio personalities is how little feedback they get from managers and program directors. As budget reductions continue to consolidate duties, overworked PD’s often don’t make time to listen to, let alone critique, talent. Some personalities have told me it’s been years since their boss has worked with them. If that’s happened to you, it’s time to be proactive to get feedback.
A Jacobs Media study showed that nearly 40% of air personalities surveyed say their on-air work is never reviewed by station management. Another 19% say they are only air-checked just a couple times a year. That’s just not sufficient.
Everyone needs coaching. Without input, we don’t grow. And many times, we fall back. But most of the time, personalities are shy about asking for attention from management. Some even go out of their way to avoid it. But that’s not going to help you grow. If you’re not getting coaching, ask for it.
There’s an old saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. So start squeaking!
Air talent: Believe me. I feel your pain. Even some of my programmers I work with don’t come to the air check sessions and coaching meetings I set up with their air personalities. It’s amazing that the one thing that impacts their success the most is ignored. But it happens.
That’s why you have to be proactive, even if you feel neglected. Don’t just “doing your own thing”. Just because management doesn’t have (or take) time with your show doesn’t mean you’re better on your own.
Here’s how to ask for help.
The biggest reason programmers don’t invest time working with talent is because it’s hard. It takes time to prepare, and they usually feel anxiety before discussing performance.
Talent that is proactive to get feedback can turn coaching sessions into a positive experience. Here are some ways to do it:
Ask For Help: Making it clear that you’re looking for input to solve a problem takes the edge off of a situation that could be confrontational. It changes the dynamic from “tell me what I’m doing wrong” to “help me figure out how to do it right.”
Set An Agenda: Ask for a meeting to review specific performance questions or solve a specific problem you face. This makes it easier for the PD, establishes expectations and increases the chance of a meeting with action points. And, when you share the challenge, it’s now the PD’s problem, too.
Send Audio Ahead of Time: Don’t cherry pick just the best breaks. This isn’t about trying to get a pat on the head. It’s to improve. Choose segments that show what you are working on. This is much more effective than randomly listening to a couple of breaks, and it saves time.
Create an Action Plan: Each meeting should produce a Next Steps action plan. What happens next? If the PD doesn’t provide it, suggest one yourself.
Follow Up: Don’t just sit back and wait for the PD to get back to you after the meeting. Send audio of breaks that show what you’re working on and ask for quick feedback to make sure you’re on the right path.
You’re probably thinking you shouldn’t have to ask for input. And you’re right. You shouldn’t have to sit back and wait for critique to help your performance. But if you’re like many air personalities that aren’t getting coaching, do what you must do to get it.
And if your PD, manager or company just don’t have time to work with you at all…or if they lack the experience or expertise to help your career grow, let me know. I can recommend a talent coach.
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