Like children, personalities grow at different rates. All of us learn at our own pace. But most broadcasters are anxious to hear their vision for a radio show right now. So they try to force it into being. But it doesn’t work until you get to The Leap.

Similarly, personalities want to become the next Dave Ryan or Elvis Duran and assume the way to get there is to replicate the show’s structure and grow into it. That doesn’t work, either. Growth is a grind. Acquiring a new skill or mastering an old one takes time and dedication. Sometimes, it feels that you’re getting nowhere. Then you experience The Leap.

The Leap

I experienced three examples of The Leap recently. Andy Meadows is working with a show that has been stuck for months. Frankly, I had concluded that it had limited potential and would never be as good as the station it’s on. For months, Andy has been telling me there’s progress. He was, as usual, upbeat, positive, and hearing good things in the performance. I didn’t hear it. Then I did. Almost as if struck with a bolt of lightning, there it was. It seemed to happen overnight, but it resulted from many weeks and months of coaching, tweaking, and working to master new skills.

Another show is brand new on an established station in a large market. They have dreams of being the next great morning show, yet neither knows what it takes to become that show. They have great talent but little to no experience in building a team show. Both personalities have great enthusiasm but are pushing to do more than they should now. But they don’t know what they don’t know. We are emphasizing patience, mastering one thing at a time, and building the show slowly. They want The Leap, and we’ll see if they have the discipline, patience, and perseverance to get there.

A third show has hit their ceiling. They’ve been successful for many years, but the show has become stale and has not adjusted to a changing entertainment world. They are talented, but demonstrate no sense of urgency to adapt. In a recent coaching session, I explained. the preparation process for creating a relationship feature. One of the personalities asked how long that takes. I responded, “Hours, not minutes.” His reaction:

It doesn’t seem like it’s worth it.

That show is not going to grow.

The Lessons

Growth is seldom a sprint. It’s a marathon that is a consistent, sometimes monotonous, grind towards an invisible finish line. Like the subtle growth of a tree, the roots of knowledge and skill spread unseen, gathering nourishment before the first sprout pushes through the soil into the light of day. The Leap is that moment when development bursts forth in a display of competence and mastery.

There are three lessons in these examples:

For Programmers and Coaches: Don’t lose hope. If the talent, attitude, and work ethic are there, believe in the process, even if it feels like you’re spinning your wheels. Like a kid learning math facts from flash cards, one day you’ll wake up and everything clicks. That’s one of the most rewarding feelings for a talent coach.

For New Personalities: Building a winning radio show doesn’t happen overnight. Every successful personality must pass through the Personality Success Path, consisting of five stages of growth (Introduction-Familiarity-Growth-Like-Love). You can’t rush through the stages. It won’t work. Be patient, master each skill for each stage and you’ll get there faster.

For Veteran Talent: The things that made you successful in the past will not ensure continuing success. Change is hard, but without it, you will become irrelevant. You can do it, but sometimes you have to step backward to learn new skills and new ways of connecting with listeners before making The Leap forward.


The Leap in learning is a cumulative effect of effort. Celebrate and reward the work that goes into the process of achieving excellence because it’s a grind that is worth celebrating. When you hear the breakthrough, acknowledge it. Review the process that led to The Leap. Then start the grind toward the next level of mastery.

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