When the head coach of an NFL team begins to sense that his very highly paid star quarterback’s rhythm might be slipping even just a little, he will immediately gather the team of coaches (QB Coach, Throwing Coach, Conditioning Coach, Offensive Coordinator, etc.) to get to the bottom of what is happening and require the coaches to get it corrected. There is too much at stake to just leave it to chance, hoping that somehow it will all work itself out.
As the program director of your radio station, what do you do if it feels like one of your air talent is slipping a little? Not just having a bad day or a rough show, but over time just not hitting the mark as consistently as he or she did before?
Through a lot of PD trial and error (more error) of dealing with this issue with various air talent, over time I have developed a solid approach to addressing the issue of a talent being “off their game”, while empowering the talent to grow through it, and getting them back on the right path quickly.
It begins with addressing whatever the issue head on, being honest about what you are hearing that needs to be improved, and communicating to the talent that you are their biggest cheerleader, that you believe in them, and that you bear some of the responsibility in what is taking place.
When a struggling talent knows that they are supported by you and that you are going to work with them to get them out of the slump they are in, they are more likely to be honest and open with you about the factors that may be negatively influencing their work.
When walking through this with a talent, I always begin by sitting down with them and describing 3 possible scenarios that I think might be reality, asking them which feels the most like what they are experiencing in this season. The 3 scenarios are:
- They understand your coaching but are having a hard time executing consistently. (means more coaching is needed to help them build consistency)
- They believe they are executing your coaching the way they understood it. (means you need to take a different approach to coaching this talent for clearer understanding of what is missing)
- They understand your coaching, but they believe that their approach is better for them / listener. (means discussion is needed to illustrate to the talent the “why” behind your coaching strategy)
Notice in each of these scenarios, the correction comes in the form of more or different coaching from you, not some directive to the talent to just “figure it out and do better.” Obviously, your talent have to be a willing participant and ready to put the work in to grow, but the inspiration and the plan for the new approach comes from you, not them. The NFL coach doesn’t just tell the QB, “This and that is wrong, figure it out…”, rather he changes up the coaching approach.
Your on air talent may be one of the few elements on your station that differentiate you from your competition, so they need and deserve the bulk of your attention each week. If you don’t have the time or the experience to give them the coaching they need to grow, let me know, I can help.
Matt Stockman is 38-year veteran to radio as an air talent and program director, including time at WBDX/Chattanooga, Spirit FM/Lynchburg, 101.1 The One/Nashville, WMIT/Asheville, a missionary assignment serving Christian radio stations in Europe, KCMS/Seattle, and K-LOVE. He is currently Brand Director for Pillar Media (WAWZ/STAR 99.1 – NJ/NY, WAKW/STAR 93.3 – Cincinnati) and is a frequent contributor to efforts that raise the standard of excellence in Christian broadcasting. Reach out to Matt HERE.