We’ve all heard it before, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I don’t need anyone telling me how to do my job.” Regardless of your line of work this is one of the most short-sided statements you could possibly make, but if you’re in radio it’s hard to quantify just how damning this line of thinking can be. Complacency doesn’t work well in broadcasting, especially when the medium is changing on an almost daily basis. There’s no such thing as reaching a point where you’ve learned everything you need to know and you no longer need to be airchecked, coached or even self-analyze. The sad fact is, in this industry, if you’re not getting better, you’re actually slowly getting worse. We aren’t afforded the luxury of plateauing, because if you’re coasting I’d be willing to bet that the other on air personalities across town, and maybe even on your staff, don’t have the same mindset.
Tom Brady was born with some incredible natural abilities and an insane work ethic for self-improvement, however he still has a coach who just happens to be one of the greatest football coaches of all time. It’s hard to argue that Tom Brady wouldn’t have excelled no matter where he landed, but do you really think he’d have been this dominant for such a long time if it weren’t for Bill Belichick? To truly master any craft you have to be open to studying, analyzing and developing that craft every single day and the best way to do that is with the help of a good coach.
The truth is you’ve been assigned a very complicated and challenging daily task, to capture the interest of, and then entertain, a large group of people who have their own set of daily distractions and countless other mediums, devices, and people fighting for their attention. Once you’ve gotten over the hump of attracting their attention, every single second you talk you’re either convincing them to keep listening or to tune out. If you’re compelling, entertaining, concise with your words and tease well, you’ll keep them listening for long enough to dominate your market. If you wing it, get too wordy, too self-focused, or you’re just disorganized with your thoughts you’ll cause them to tune out and spend their commute listening to the competition, which nowadays is much more diverse and interactive than just your typical terrestrial competitors. Being on air is like being both a writer and your own copy editor in real-time. Which is why it’s absolutely crucial that you learn to cut out unnecessary, irrelevant details from your on-air anecdotes and stories and a second opinion helps immensely in that process.
Finally, ask yourself these simple questions, do you really have a pulse on your audience? Do you know what they’re listening to, watching, reading, talking about with their coworker? Do you know the average commute in your market? Is your show truly tailored to your audience’s listening habits, interests and how they consume radio today?
Delivering consistently interesting, appealing, relevant content on an hour by hour basis every day is a very daunting and overwhelming job that no one should try to accomplish on their own. A competent on-air coach can help you improve your prep process, create great features and benchmarks, schedule them at the best possible times to maximize their value, outline and structure each break, effectively tease it, and even get additional mileage from your content in other day-parts, on the web and through social media.
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