Friday, April 18, 2014

Vary Your Pitches

As you coach and encourage talent in critique sessions it’s important to avoid a routine.

Different ways to do it:

1.  Set by set.  If the team is missing some of the basics, this can be like watching the game films.  It’s painful to watch that play where you missed your assignment and cost a win, but it has tremendous impact and can be sure that everyone who talks on the air is aware of what you expect to hear from them.  What percentage of the breaks passes the “who cares” test?

2.  Overview.  This doesn’t involve listening to an air check.  Show the team your own version of this monitor clock (with thanks to a 1980’s McVay Media programming manual form) of an hour of their show.


Goal:  to give more of an overall impression of the station's balance of elements in every quarter hour to a casual listener.  How likely is that person to become more loyal based on the “big picture?”

3.  Ask the talent to tell you how they feel about today’s show.  If it’s a team, ask each person to rate the show on a scale of 1-10 and then talk about the differences from each character’s perspective.  Often, talent is much more self-critical than you could ever be.  Guide and encourage them in self-help.

If every critique session follows the same pattern, you’ll find that everyone comes to them with two very human reactions:  defensiveness and denial.

Once you've mixed up these methods, you may want each daily talent meeting by giving them the choice of which of the three they feel will be most effective today.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

If You Want Your Talent To Prep

Prep For Every Meeting With Them.

Go to every critique with one or two strengths you appreciate in the talent, with ideas for ways they can stress therm even more,

If you feel they have weaknesses to work on, think carefully about how to achieve buy-in before you drop them directly.

Even if you start with two or three strengths and effusive praise, most likely the one thing they’re going to remember from the session is this negative.

Think of talking about any shortcomings as pieces of dynamite and be prepared to do first aid if someone gets injured when you bring them up.

Some people require a light touch.  Others will ONLY change when very directly told what they must work on if they want to keep their job.

Think this through before the meeting, realizing that the only want to get anyone to change is for the individual to choose it.

Be prepared to use disciplinary action as a last resort if necessary, but take to your boss about this in advance and make sure you have support from above so that the talent knows it isn’t personal just between you.

It's about making them better.

You will be more effective when they honestly believe that.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

You Can’t Manage Time

.. but you can work to prevent it from managing YOU.
  • Do a weekly priority plan each Sunday evening.  Make appointments with yourself during the coming well to be sure you complete these tasks.  If it will take 45 minutes, slot in an hour for it.
  • Create two file folders, one with your name on it and the other your boss’ name.  Give the one with your name on it to your boss and show him the one with his name on it.
  • Save all discussion items for each other in the folders and plan two meetings a week where you go through both folders together as quickly as possible.  This way, your meetings are never dominated by one topic and each of you can prioritize the things they need the other’s help on just before each meeting.
  • Never touch a piece of paper twice.  Deal with it, delegate it, file it or toss it.
Yes, of course, you have long known these tricks.

The real trick is doing it.

"Whoever wants to be a judge of human nature should study people's excuses."
-- Christian Friedrich Hebbel, German poet

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Give Your Team A Bonus

I know.  No budget.

There are things any leader can do using barter and very little budget that improve morale and improve the attitude of everyone.

1.  Pre-book dinner with all personalities with limo transport to and from the restaurant
2.  A public meeting with the entire staff or even at an event where the audience is present to award trophies to air staff and other employees for their achievements.
3.  Snail mail a letter to their home thanking them for all they do when someone does something truly outstanding. That way, their whole family will know you appreciate their dedication.
4.  Send flowers to spouses and then let the air staff know you did so and made the flowers “from them.”
5.  In mid-summer, take everyone to an indoor location for a (machine-made) snowball fight or in the middle of winter to an indoor pool for a pool party.
6.  “Staff” jackets for the air staff with their name on them.
7.  Old fashioned telegrams to individual air staff saluting them for the “above and beyond” things they do.
8.  Conduct a “war college” at the local military base or reserve post.  Go to the local Army-Navy store and equip everyone with fatigues, show pieces from “Patton,” and psyche up your warriors.
9.  Do a meeting in the locker room of a competitive college or pro team and have the coach talk about motivation and winning.

And, finally, 10.  Stage an amazing annual Christmas Party.

And,  an admission:  I learned a lot of these tactics over many years of working with Mike McVay, who with his business-and-life partner Doris took the definition of “Holiday Party” to a new level each year with an amazing staff dinner at the nicest hotel downtown and concluded with a party game of “wheel of McVay,” which was a fun way of giving everyone who works together all year with an impressive gift and a feeling they all work for a generous, winning organization.

Maybe that's why, after all these years, A&O&B still retains an association with the McVays.  They know how to motivate and retain people.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Can You Spot The One Who "Get's It"?

Some people have a way of making themselves the center of events and others seem more comfortable playing the background.

Take a fast look at this photo from Country Aircheck weekly. Where do your eyes go?  Which personalities do you want to identify?

Small wonder the ACM judges liked Bobby Bones' entry in spite of how new the team is to country radio.  Clearly what they learned doing CHR in Austin is paying off in their new format home.


Some people stand in front of the remote booth engaging listeners directly, while others prefer to hide behind the station banner.

Most of us try to hide from the camera when a lens is pointed our way.

That's not the business we're in.

These are learned skills and if your team doesn't seem to understand that appearances, stunts and awards are an opportunity to be maximized, it's time ot teach them.

We are in a very competitive business.

Do your personalities act like they don't realize this?

If you need help with teaching the facts of show biz, we can help.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Your Best Benchmarks Have Belly Buttons

They have characters, personal stories, loves, hates, points of view.  And, if you have any doubt of that, read this list of names and just try to convince me that you care less about THEM than you do "Battle Of The Sexes" or "War Of The Roses."
Spend more time helping your people become voices that listeners personally relate to and care about than you do stealing someone else's benchmarks and content.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Benchmark Brainstorm

A few years ago Mike O’Malley and I conducted a day-long air personality development seminar in Atlantic City.  We used it to test eight hours’ worth of presentations which we have since used with great impact at A&O&B client radio stations.

One of the most fun exercises we did that day was called “Benchmark Brainstorm.”  The two of us took turns suggesting ideas for bits, stunts, contests, promotions and content that would be memorable to listeners, bringing them back day after day to hear more.

Alternating with our ideas we called on the audience to contribute their best and most successful creative.  A scribe wrote them all down and everyone left that day with four or five single-spaced pages of things to do on the air for fun and buzz.

Later as we reviewed all of the off-the-wall suggestions both Mike and I were at the same time proud of our group’s creativity and fearful that one of the stations in attendance would put them all on the air immediately.

Rating success is not driven by the number of clever nicknames for various forms of content a station does every hour.  It’s the very small number of them that listeners care about, like and use as road signs for their reason to turn the radio on.

The difference between “clutter” and “benchmark” is defined by the listener.

Almost universally the average radio station has far fewer “benchmarks” than they think.

The final step in any “benchmark brainstorm” is finding out which ones listeners love and dropping all of the others which are only wasting time.

Find out the small number of things you’re most famous for and do them a lot more.