I Hate Air-Checking

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This week’s All Access Audio Summit’sCoaching the Coaches talent panel was moderated by Mike McVay. I participated in the discussions with fellow talent coaches Tracy Johnson and Valerie Geller.

There were a few audience questions that we didn’t get to, including two related questions from a talent and programmer in Phoenix and Chicago. “How do you get coaching to “stick?” and “I hate air-checking, and the talent usually doesn’t get better.”

It’s frustrating to make the same recommendations over and over to talent and nothing changes. Making positive changes means changing habits;  a process that takes time and reinforcement. What is your approach to the coaching process?

How you approach talent coaching makes the difference

Many programmers, consultants, and talent coaches take a dictatorial, my-way-or-the highway approach. It’s typically accompanied by the focus on negativity, or what the show is doing wrong.

This can work with inexperienced shows and with some skilled shows for a short time. Ultimately, it curbs creativity and leaves talent feeling left out of the process and resentful.

Make it their idea

RLC uses a collaborative technique that gives talent ownership of their growth. We’ve always called it “the art of asking questions.” It’s often referred to as the Socratic Method. Partner with the show pointing out what they’re doing well and how to improve the show by building on the positives.

Make it fun, mix it up, and keep it short

Unless there’s a dire need for a “come to Jesus meeting,” keep it light and fun. Avoid getting stuck on the same process. Take a variety of approaches such as:

  • Rate each segment A, B, or C
  • Evaluate teases only
  • Evaluate segment opens and exits
  • Only listen to great segments for positive reinforcement
  • Evaluate another show

Agree on action points and follow up on them until they become habits.

We worked with a top 10 market show with a PD who kept the show in a daily one to two-hour meeting. He remains nameless to protect the guilty! The show hated every minute because he pontificated the whole time and wasted valuable show prep time.

It’s most effective to meet once a week for 20 minutes or so depending on need. Air check sessions are most effective every other week and can go up to an hour.

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