Five Ways To Keep Good Talent

 In Blog

Rob Basile read my article in Radio Ink and had some valuable thoughts of his own to add. Here is the article I wrote, with Rob’s additions below:

1. Set goals and celebrate victories: There are ways to measure growth other than ratings, so establish clear expectations — digital, ratings, sales, etc. As a manager, it’s up to you to communicate the goals to the point where every employee can repeat them back to you.

2. Share ratings and other relevant research information. Angela Perelli was on a conference call with a morning show after a book came out and casually said, “Congratulations on being No. 1, guys! That’s awesome!” The show was surprised by the news; they hadn’t heard anything about the ratings. “We don’t want to encourage them…They aren’t doing what we need them to do,” the PD said. That may be true, yet it is also true that the show is delivering ratings. And better they hear from you, complete with your spin on where they need to continue to improve, rather than from their friend in the sales department.

3. Praise: This form of feedback must never be gratuitous and always specific and sincere. Praise in public and private and as often as is genuine. Reprimand in private only.

4. “Negative” feedback is most effective when it is tell-it-like-it-is honest. Deliver tough points in a casual, direct and non emotional way, as you would give someone the time of day.

a) Focus on one or two main points at a time rather than hitting them with a barrage of points that can lead to confusion and self-consciousness.

b) Use contrast as a growth tool. First, point out what isn’t working well through creative questioning, then immediately pivot to what will work better.

5. Help out: The most fundamental thing that any PD can do for a successful, functional morning show is to take the attitude of “I work for the morning show,” i.e. “What do you need from me?” (Technical issues, proper workspace, promotional help, artist interviews, etc.) If you know you aren’t able to help in a certain area, be responsive and tell them straight out rather than saying “I’m working on it” or “I’ll get back to you.” Offer alternate solutions when possible. They may not like the answer but they will appreciate the honesty.

From Rob Basile:

On Being Part of The Team

“You gotta be there! As PD, you are part of the team. Be at the majority of station events, even if for a few minutes. Get to know people onsite: street team, technicians, advertising partners, your target audience. It’s important to be in the trenches with the team. It helps prevent an “us” versus “them” environment and fosters an “us” only environment. It really demonstrates that you care.

Small gestures like randomly showing up with coffees for the team go a long way. Many staffers remember being  junior radio peeps or interns and being  asked to get coffee…It’s amazing to see how appreciative your team is when receiving a coffee from you. Again, just a sincere, random, thoughtful gesture.”

On Praise

“Random notes of appreciation or emails highlighting accomplishments go far. Have cards in your desk drawer. Take time to hand write a thoughtful note acknowledging efforts and accomplishments.

However, praise for the sake praise is BAD… Insincerity is easily spotted. If you don’t mean it then don’t say it. Also, be specific, highlighting the action that sparked you to deliver words of encouragement or praise.”

On Ratings

“Be transparent. Always share ratings. After all, you’re in it together. Print detailed specific daypart reports for your talent. Let talent see how their daypart was performing against other stations; hour for hour and in key demos. Be ready and willing to answer questions related to ratings.

Ratings are reality. If they’re good, celebrate. If they’re not so good, spearhead a group effort to get them where they need to be.”

On Meetings

“Try having talent meetings every two weeks. At a previous station we held them on pay day (an easy day to remember and a happy day for most). Develop a culture for meetings.

It’s an opportunity for staff to:


  1. Gel and spend time together becoming a tight knit team.
  2. Get updates on station developments.
  3. Be part of brainstorming sessions.
  4. Engage in professional activity – let peers share their strengths with the group. Develop a culture that fosters peer mentorship.
  5. Provide feedback and discussion. Engage different department heads. For example, have your chief engineer be part of the meeting. Talent will be able to share thoughts, provide suggestions, get some insight to the way things work and ask questions about their home away from home, the control room.
  6. Be celebrated. Celebrate the unseen/unnoticed contributions and efforts of someone on the team. The person being celebrated was secretly chosen by his/her peers (your Station’s Secret Hero”).”

On Getting Staff Input

“It’s important that talent have an opportunity to “air check” the PD.  Ask staff for feedback on your performance/practice and ask for suggestions to improve. Ask all staff (individually) if there is something you could be doing better. Create an anonymous suggestion exercise. At the end of a talent meeting, ask questions about the station like:

  1. What do we do extremely well?
  2. What needs work?
  3. How can we improve?

Make being trustful a priority. Programmers/Talent Coaches, etc. must prove that we actually “give a sh**” and are invested in the development and subsequent successes of our talent. It will  involve a commitment of time and effort. You’ll quickly discover that programming is selfless and sometimes thankless, but when things click it’s amazingly gratifying — there’s nothing quite like it.”

Randy Lane


You can learn more about Rob Basile at ?? or follow Rob on Twitter here.

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