I suspect a lazy streak runs through most creative people. We tell the world we're looking for a *better* way to do things, but what we're really after, deep down, is an *easier* way. Why else would we choose a profession which, at least from the outside, looks like the easiest of all? To get paid for simply talking; to sit and listen to music for several hours a day -- tell me that isn't a large part of what drew you to this Biz... No matter that you soon found out it's more complicated than that -- by then we were stuck, committed, and yet, beneath it all, still questing for that ideal on-air job, where they pay you more than you can spend, just for being yourself
behind a mike...
More evidence of our laziness: we pay lip service to many wonderful ideas that never get put into practice. I teach DJs how to prepare material for their shows; they almost always agree that this is a good idea. Yet, if, months later, I ask to see their prep sheets, not one in ten will be doing
I invite talents on client stations to send me tapes so we can critique them together. On the phone, they respond like I have just offered them part of my soul. Four out of five never send the tape and of those who do, it can be months before we find an hour to spend together listening to it.
I urge PDs to critique their jocks regularly, and there isn't one who's ever said to me, "That's a low priority; maybe I'll get around to it some day when I have time." And yet -- well, you know...
I present workshops at radio stations, and when they're over, often I'm walking on air, delighted at how well my ideas were received. As if to underscore my perception, they invite me back months later to do it again.
They can't have been just "shining me on" -- they're spending money to have me return! But when I arrive, I often wonder if I've ever been there. None of those bright ideas have actually been embraced. Nobody's doing any real show prep, the PD has never gotten around to critiquing on a regular basis and the station sounds pretty much as it did before...
I think it's that lazy streak I referred to earlier. I don't mean this in a judgmental way and I most certainly include myself in the group. I could tell you a hundred things I should have done over the past ten years, that I just never got around to. Is there an answer? Or are we doomed to continue sliding by with a minimum of effort, following the path of least resistance on down to oblivion? When they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, this must be what they mean...
The antidote is already well known to your sales and management colleagues, although they may have different names for it: rational selfishness; identifying your own, long-term best interests, and acting on them.
It is in your own selfish interest to prep material for your show. That's how you become the sort of personality that draws people back to hear more.
That's how you advance your on-air career, survive "house-cleanings," get better jobs, earn more money. If that doesn't motivate you, then you're not just lazy, you're plumb self-destructive!
It is in your best interest to get critiquing, and if you can't get it from the PD or from me, get it from someone else; a colleague, a spouse, even your child. Maybe you know more about radio than they do -- so what? "Wise men learn more from fools than fools ever learn from wise men."
The truth is, performing requires a different set of talents than coaching or critiquing. All great performers have coaches or directors.
If you're a PD, coaching/critiquing your air staff -- helping a major component of your product to improve -- should be one of your highest priorities, not your lowest. It's one of the key ways you get ratings, and that can only benefit your station and thus, you, personally, in the long
Our native laziness may help us to be creative, to be clever, but it's self-defeating when it gets in the way of delivering the efforts required to achieve success. Are there things you know you should be doing to benefit yourself in the long run?
When do you plan to start?
-- Written and distributed by my hero Jay Trachman on August 26, 2002. Ten years ago and really only the references to 'tape' make it sound anything but completely relevant today.
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