One of the most complex parts of personality radio is not having immediate feedback. A standup comic tells a story punctuated with a punchline she hopes is funny and gets instant reactions. That’s one reason it’s hard for comedians to succeed on the radio. An athlete knows immediately if their performance is successful or not based on the results. Even a conversation at dinner instant feedback from a live “audience.” Their words, facial expressions, body language, and other subtle cues encourage or discourage your performance. Human beings thrive on the feedback cycle and adjust accordingly.

As human beings, it’s natural to react to comments, especially when directed to something as personal as your on-air performance. When listeners tell you they love you, it feels great, but criticism stings. Audience reactions may have value as an indicator, but it’s unreliable. A personality’s lifeline to the audience is random phone calls, social media comments, a text message, an occasional email, and maybe a comment from your app’s “talk back” feature.

Personalities need coaches to provide consistent and reliable advice through The Feedback Cycle. You rarely see your audience. There is little instant feedback other than cohosts and behind-the-scenes folks preoccupied with their responsibilities and challenged with their phobias. You’re on your own.

The Feedback Cycle

When managers and programmers invest time to coach shows, personalities are better able to tune out loud (and usually negative) comments.

If you’re in charge of talent, make it a priority.

If you’re a personality and are not getting help, find a mentor. Work with a pro that gives you honest, objective input and establishes goals to improve your performance.

Here are some tips to create a productive feedback cycle:

Objective: Coaches and talent should be direct, honest, and objective. That requires preparation for an aircheck session.

Focus On Positives: Coaches should encourage positive performance by offering guidance on how to thrive. Avoid sessions that only point out what’s wrong.

Focus On Process: Every personality is a work in progress. The pursuit of excellence never ends. It takes time, commitment, and a willingness to learn and apply (also coach) new skills.

Embrace The Feedback Cycle

Once a local news co-anchor named Oprah Winfrey was struggling to find her voice. She became a global media superstar by continuously refining her techniques, deepening her understanding of human psychology, and polishing her skills while blocking out criticism. Here are some tips on how to do it:

The Imaginary Audience: Visualize your audience. Athletes often see their performance in their minds before a game. Imagine speaking to a friend, a family member, or a group of interested listeners and how they would respond to your performance. Some stations find it useful to develop a Target Listener Profile to help talent remain objective.

Character Profile: Every personality should have a Character Brand Profile to act as a filter to evaluate whether or not your performance was on point. This is one of the most valuable steps to remain objective and focused.

Aircheck: Listener comments should be evaluated and considered through the character profile filter, but you should also listen to your show regularly (at least weekly). That’s the only way to evaluate whether listeners are hearing what you think they are.


The lack of immediate audience feedback is a hurdle, but not an impossible one to overcome. Programmers applying these strategies will greatly help personalities grow. But if you’re on the air and there is no internal feedback cycle, take steps to find your own resources. Get a mentor. Work with a talent coach. Collaborate with other personalities. Just don’t rely exclusively on what listeners say when they call you on the request line.


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