5 Radio Lessons From a Flock of Geese

5 Radio Lessons From a Flock of Geese

by Tracy Johnson

Growing up on the plains of Nebraska, we watched the annual migration of geese and Sandhills Cranes. They flew south in the fall and north in the spring. And there are radio lessons from a flock of geese that could help your station.

The familiar v-shaped flying pattern is an example of the power of teamwork. Geese fly in the same flock because they have a co-dependent relationship. Their individual roles work together for the benefit of the team. In personality radio, I call this a For The Show mentality.

But that’s not the only way geese can help radio stations. Applying the lessons to radio shows stations can be valuable.

Radio Lessons From a Flock of Geese

Like geese, multi-personality radio shows depend entirely on how the team interacts.

Building teamwork should be a part of everyday life. Scientists and animal behaviorists now believe that geese fly in the familiar “v” rotation for some very good reasons:

The Whole Is Greater Than the Parts

FACT: As each bird flaps its wings, it creates lift for the bird following immediately behind. By flying in a “V”, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than it would have flying alone.

LESSON: People who share a common direction and sense of community get where they are going more quickly and easily by traveling on the thrust of one another.

This is a basic principle of improv. A well-cast radio show works together, making the whole greater than the sum of it’s parts. When you have found the right combination, each individual will succeed because of the power of the show. That makes the team stronger and each individual more successful. I’ve never seen a great personality on a bad radio show. Nor have I ever seen a great radio show without strong personalities.

With Us Or Against Us

FACT: Anytime a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resists trying to fly alone. Quickly, it gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

LESSON: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay aligned with those who are headed where we want to go and be willing to accept their help as well as give our help to others. It is harder to do something alone than together.

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In coaching shows, I work with them to instill a concept of F.T.S.: For The Show. When everyone works together, minor issues stay minor. Things like amount of mic time, or who gets credit for an idea simply fade away. Feelings aren’t bruised as easily when it’s For The Show. But when personalities are more concerned about themselves, problems follow. And many times, those issues can’t be fixed.

Each Team Member Picks Up the Slack

FACT: When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation, and another goose flies at the point position.

LESSON: It pays to take turns doing hard and demanding tasks. Don’t be afraid to share leadership. With people, as with geese, we depend on one another’s skills. Each has capabilities and unique gifts, talents and resources. Make use of them.

Everyone feels more fulfilled when they are part of the team. Apply strengths to the advantage of the group.

A Positive Attitude Makes a Huge Difference

FACT: Geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those in front to keep up their speed.

LESSON: We need to make sure our honking from behind is encouraging, not discouraging.

In groups where there is encouragement, production is much greater. The power to encourage the heart and core values of others) is the quality of honking that we seek.

The Three Musketeers motto was All for One, One for All. Be your own biggest fans and keep it positive-always. This goes for programmers when coaching talent as well. Be a cheerleader by Catching Them Doing Something Good.

Support Each Team Member, No Matter What

FACT: When a goose gets sick, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow to help and protect it. They stay until it is able to fly again or dies. Then they catch up with another formation, or catch up with the flock or start on their own until they find a new team.

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LESSON: Stand by each other, in difficult times as well as when times are good. Nothing destroys a show faster than individual agendas. That doesn’t mean you never fight, but loyalty matters. It builds trust and that leads to stronger shows.

Successful shows protect and support one another, even to the point of turning mistakes into a positive. In fact, some of the most memorable moments on the air often happen because of a mistake.


An individual goose would Neve make their biannual migration on their own. They would die. You don’t usually think of geese as intelligent, but wouldn’t we all be smarter if we apply these lessons to our careers, radio shows and stations?

This works for geese. It works for sports teams. And it applies to virtually all business.

You’re all in this together, like a family. Maybe a big, wacky, dysfunctional family at times, but still a family. Everyone is stronger when we play their role and support the others for the good of the team.

Team Shows Are Co-Dependent

Positive Reinforcement: Catch Them Doing Something Good

For The Show Mentality

How Improv Helps Radio Shows

Air Check Coaching

Trust Your Partners

How to Use Mistakes As A Positive


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