by Tracy Johnson
At every webinar, I take user questions from visitors. Sometimes it’s the most valuable part of the presentation. At the How To Coach Air Check Sessions seminar, several important questions about coaching air check sessions were asked and answered by talent coach Andy Meadows and me.
The webinar is now available on demand here, but the Q&A is not provided in the on-demand version. By the way, that’s why you should sign up for (and attend) all of the webinars live! You can do so here.
Here are the most common questions you want answers to!
A: Part of the responsibility of the coach is to figure out methods that will inspire talent. Notice that I used the term “inspire”, not “motivate”. There’s not a person alive that can motivate someone else. That comes from within. But often, talent is actually motivated. They just don’t seem like it. In that case, the coach may need to adjust their approach to get through in the most effective way.
It may work to ask more questions and develop a relationship of helping the personality achieve their own goals. When the coach is viewed as an advocate, it can change the dynamic.
If the talent just doesn’t want to grow or evolve, try to raise their sense of urgency with information, facts and data about the competition facing radio personalities from many forms of entertainment. A show that has been “good enough” in the past is not adequate in today’s environment.
A: First, there has to be a relationship based on trust. Talent simply must trust that the coach has their best interests. That allows them to be vulnerable and honest in air check sessions. Most talent is insecure, some to the point of crumbling over critique. That’s why I recommend using sessions to work toward achieving goals that have been identified, rather than simply critiquing or criticizing performance.
Let’s say a goal is creating more effective teases at the end of a break. Focusing on just that topic, the coach should find examples of progress toward the goal. I call it “catching them doing something good“. This keeps the conversation positive and the session productive. It also opens the discussion to explore other ways they could have (not should have) executed the tease.
A: This is one of my favorite types of air check sessions. Start by having a clearly defined Personality Profile. It’s a key element for every radio performer. Using that profile, evaluate content through individual, specific character traits. Identify ways they could have structured a break differently or told the story with a different perspective to highlight a different aspect of their character. Or find ways they could exaggerate or embellish some details to allow their character to come out more.
This type of Air Check Meeting is fun, and usually leads to a breakthrough in future show prep sessions. It won’t produce instant results, but over time, it can help personalities grow exponentially.
A: You probably need to meet more often than you are and probably for shorter meetings. The #1 complaint from air talent today is they don’t get enough coaching or feedback.
Frequency of formal meetings depends on experience, talent level and needs of the individual personality. As a general rule, a weekly air check session with developing talent and at least monthly with established, experienced personalities is a good guideline.
However, daily interaction should be your intention. When left alone, it’s easy to start thinking nobody cares. So invest time each day to have at least a short dialogue.
Some programmers think time spent meeting is equal to progress. It’s not. Many times it’s counter-productive. Don’t try to do too much in one session. And when you make progress, adjourn. Growing as a personality is a process.
A: Longer than you are probably spending. A major problem with air check sessions is they’re generally boring. There’s no purpose or agenda established in advance. So each session ends up being like all the others: Listen to audio, comment and move on.
Preparing for a session is like a personality preparing for a show. You can’t just wing it and hope something good happens. Programmers should invest at least 30 minutes to an hour in organizing each session.
Coaching air check sessions is hard, and that’s one reason they don’t happen as much as they should. That’s also why we launched a custom air check coaching service for under-coached personalities and over-worked program directors. You can get a one-hour air check with our Talent Coaches.
For details on the service, click here.
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