“It’s not airchecking, it’s polishing the diamond,” said Valerie Geller at the Radiodays session Art of the Aircheck.
Along with Lasse Roldkjer from Denmark and Nik Goodman from the UK, the trio discussed their best pieces of advice to help program directors improve their on air talent.
When thinking about a presenter’s show you are going to aircheck, ask yourself, ‘does it feel authentic of fake?’ That is a key question when you begin to think about what to discuss with them.
“Audiences love it when they forget the radio is on and they fell they are in the room with you.” If the show felt like that, then it will be on target, if it felt fake then talk to the talent about being more authentic.
“Catch someone doing something right. Find things that are right, praise them for it, and encourage them to do more of the good things, rather than concentrating on what is wrong,” said Geller.
Other tips include:
Never have a conversation if you can’t listen to the audio with the talent.
Talent wants a goal and some direction to get there. A good coach can make you feel great, but poor airchecking can be very discouraging, like being sent to the headmaster’s office.
Coaching should also include discussion of the big picture of the radio station so that the talent knows what is going on outside their 3 hours on air.
Good talent will identify what they did wrong and self correct, all you need to do is give them some guidelines to help them do a good job.
One way to know if something is good or not is to ask yourself how long does it feel. If it feels too long it is boring. If you want more time with it, it is hitting the target.
PDs should remember to listen like a listener.
Use humour. You often hire funny people, so relate to them with humour when it is appropriate.
“We can get weather traffic anywhere, what we can’t get is the people. They are your champion racehorses,” said Geller.
“If you owned a champion racehorse you would make sure they got the best food and were treated properly. Do the same for your on air personalities.”
Ask the talent, who do you think you’re speaking to? Is who they think they are talking to, really who they are talking to. If it is then they are probably hitting the target, but if not, help them to understand more about their audience so they can talk to them more effectively.
You have to be a true fan of the talent, make sure they know you like them and believe in them. “They may be six feet talk but they really feel like they are as insecure as a 5 year old when they think you don’t believe in them.”