The ability to wing it on air is a rare and valuable skill that’s hard to teach, tough to learn and nearly impossible to master. But, it can also be the downfall of an otherwise promising on air talent. That’s because, the better we get at winging it, the more likely we are to lean too heavily on it.
The on-air skill of winging it is similar to being able to freestyle as a rapper or improv as a comedic actor. But, even though Eminem can freestyle, all of his hits were pre-written and just because Will Ferrell is great at improving lines doesn’t mean Step Brothers didn’t have a script.
On-air talent who crack the mic without knowing what they’re going to do are a liability and are often doing more harm than good. Granted ‘knowing what we’re going to do’ varies widely based on what works best for that on-air talent. Some can simply create an outline of a plan for the break in their head and execute it on the fly, or at most, need a couple bullet points. But, other air talent need important content and engagement breaks scripted entirely and there’s no shame in that. If scripting those kind of breaks works best for you don’t fight it, just learn to deliver it naturally so it doesn’t come across like you’re reading. At the end of the day all that matters is the end result, how it comes across on-air.
When I started Solo Show Prep I had a lot of debates with my radio pals about whether or not I should script it where it could be used verbatim. Many of them thought it was insulting to veteran air talent, but I disagreed. For one, I still hear plenty of experienced jocks who think they are better at winging it than they actually are. Secondly, the scripted prep is simply a suggestion to help structure a break. That way rookie air talent can use it verbatim if necessary, experienced talent can strategically reword it to fit their personality/market and pros can use it like suggestions coming from a partner, producer or program director and use it/reword it accordingly. Here are my five keys to planning and executing a successful content break.
I firmly believe that 2021 will be the year of the content creator and on-air talent who consistently plan out and deliver compelling on-air content will be heavily rewarded. Conversely air talent who continue to phone it in and choose to wing it will be left even further behind.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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