How Much Do You Trust The People You Work With?

 In Blog

by Rob Pepper, host of Pepper & Dylan Show, Virgin/Edmonton

Every night, before morning shows feel secure enough to go to sleep, we ask ourselves a dozen questions about the next show. Will this engage the audience? Will we get reaction on Facebook? Will the contest idea actually work? Will the audience participate where and when we would like them to? Do we have enough content?

These are questions we never really know the answers to (until we actually have the answers) and therefore, can lead to that “impending doom” feeling of anxiety. If that feeling presents itself regularly and is all too familiar to you, perhaps the problem is not the answers you are endeavouring to find, but the questions you are choosing to ask.

Instead, ask yourself this: How much do I trust the people I work with?Morning-Show-Trust-SM.jpg

We are all in a line of work that requires strong relationships, understanding relationships and forgiving relationships. So why are we always asking questions about content? To have a show with great content is certainly a goal. To have a show with great personality is an even better goal. But to balance those with a transparent and natural chemistry will actually CREATE the content and personality. (Not to mention conflict, self deprecation, audience alignment, audience realignment and ultimately audience loyalty.) And that chemistry starts with trust.

Far too many times we hear the horror stories of a jock slamming his headphones down after a break and blaming his co-host for not doing what he had in his head. We have heard the stories of the co-hosts who “want to contribute more and not just be the laugh track”. We know all too well the effects a negative listener email or text message can have on the thinner-skinned people on the show.

If you can trust the people you work with, you will prevent the nasty explosions. You will encourage them to become better.  You can relate to those who have been hurt. And much, much more.

I used to be the guy that had a hard time trusting the people I worked closest with. I’d let it eat my insides if they didn’t read my mind or if I didn’t have a set-in-stone plan for every segment scheduled for the next show. And if something didn’t go according to the plan I had envisioned? Well, since I did all the work, lost all the sleep and pressed all the buttons, everyone else was to blame.

Then I got fired. And after a lot of thought, I promised myself if I ever got a chance at a morning show again, everything would be different.

This is what I learned, what I changed and what I believe has made for the best radio I have done in my career:

It’s a mistake to assume all of the members of your radio show have the exact same goals. While all should be primarily focused on ratings growth, there are dozens of other goals within the close quarters of a morning show. Understand these goals and, more importantly, don’t judge their ambitions if they aren’t the same as yours.

The next time someone you work with has an idea you don’t quite understand or fully believe in, keep your doubts to yourself, bump whatever idea you may have had and go with it. Give up the reins and hone your skills in a position you aren’t used to: supporter. You will encourage more participation, show respect, highlight another member of the show and give the audience a greater sense of chemistry. If their idea misses the mark, be as supportive as you can.

Celebrate your differences. Just like everyone has different goals, everyone excels in different scenarios. As obvious as it may sound, we aren’t all the same. So, with that in mind, try playing to their strengths, especially if they are your greatest weaknesses. If someone on your show is great at improv but you need structure to execute a break, walk a mile in their shoes. It’s the least you can do given they’ve been running a marathon in yours.

Another great way to practice this is to shock the people you work with – do something that is completely out of your character but in the mold of someone else on the show. Don’t tell them you’re going to do it, just do it and it will not only prove to them you are flexible but keep them sharp and on their toes.

If you’re a pre-planning control freak, intentionally ignore planning at least one break a day. It’s likely that something will happen during the show you can build on, but if it doesn’t, turn to your show players and ask casually “Whatcha got?” No pressure. No agenda. Just a way of saying “You’re damn good at what you do. Any thoughts?” This is the core of chemistry radio. If you can have fun, it’s a pretty safe bet the audience is having fun too.

This may intimidate you but it will empower those you work with. And, after a few days or weeks, you’ll notice the stress that comes with your planning drop off dramatically.

Next time you’re with your spouse or friend and the topic of the show comes up, take note of how you speak about them. Odds are, they’re having the exact same conversation with their spouse or friend on the other side of town. We’ve all heard the stories of the dreaded Morning Show That Hated Each Other. And it’s often quite refreshing to hear about the Show That Loves Each Other. It’s never too late to be the latter.

As we are often told, the key to successful morning radio is finding the balance between content and personality. The scales are never perfect, but when they’re closest, it’s called  Chemistry Radio. And it starts and ends with trust.

Check out Pepper & Dylan on Facebook. Follow Pepper at @PepperVirgin. Or send along your comments on his article to We’d love to hear from you.

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