In yesterday’s blog, we got some sage advice from one of radio’s best talent show coaches – Randy Lane. Earlier this month, I was honored to emcee a private broadcaster conference that featured Randy and our own Keith Cunningham.
The guys expertly broke down three very different personality shows, bringing their own unique views and experiences to the session. This morning, I’ve got some nuggets from Keith who has sat in more 10 a.m. sessions than anyone I know. His ability to work with fledgling personalities and grizzled veterans is part of why he’s such a valuable guy.
Here are Keith’s tips for creating and growing a great personality show:
Aircheck Yourself: In these times when even in major markets, programmers are often responsible for more than one station, honest critiques may not be easy to come by. One of the best things a personality can do is hold up the mirror and critique her own work. Grab an aircheck from a week or two ago (so the show isn't fresh in your mind), go home, listen, and take honest notes. Or jump in a car, get stuck in some traffic, and “tune in” to experience what it’s like for a station listener. Like getting on the scale once a week, it’s a reality check that can make for better radio.
Best of CD Rule: When done prepping the following day's show, it's a good exercise to ask: "On tomorrow's show, what will be good enough for our Best Of CD?" If nothing obvious come to mind, the job of prepping and being creative isn't complete. Personalities have to push the creative process to a higher level each day.
Treatment Times Five: Boring people usually create boring radio, and boring and predictable decisions equal boring and predictable content. I use the word "treatment" often, which simply refers to the angle a show takes with its content. In many cases, the first/easiest/most predictable choices are the worst ones. The exercise here is to think of five different ways to handle the same topic or bit. American Idol is a great example: most shows all treat Idol the same way - they play the same clips and make fun of the contestants, judges and Ryan. How can a personality or team look at the same “jump ball” and develop something that will stand out and be entertaining?
Coach Smart: Every talent requires a different approach, and a coach or PD needs to find the right avenue to get the best results. There isn't a one-size-fits-all blueprint for coaching talent. Some personalities may respond to a terse approach that clinically attacks the problem, while others need a shoulder to cry on and a warm smile. Similarly, shows require daily meetings, others work best with a “hall bump,” and a few thrive with just a weekly get-together. The best coaches adapt and find a way to break through and build trust.