No doubt the last 10 years of content management in Radio has not helped develop much on the talent side of the ledger. As an industry we've learned to operate on a tight budget, multi-task with many PDs and talent team players handling multiple roles and many of the having very little to do with serving the audience.
We've also seen PDs crawl behind the computer screens dealing with the 'machine' that seems to run the programming. Listening in hotel rooms and on-line you can see it all the time - talent just rolling along on the air, talking to themselves (or about themselves), not paying attention to the audience and really not listening to their shows. I've even seen studios where there is no aircheck system - digital or even a boombox cassette.
As you think about coaching the talent in your halls here's a couple of tips I've found useful:
- Avoid the Critique - Looking back at all the mistakes or blown breaks and ranting while the talent squirms in the chair won't improve their game. It already went over the transmitter. Look ahead at show prep, their comfort level in the studio, their understanding of the audience and how confident they are behind the mic. If you can take a positive approach to finding ways to improve those areas you will end up with better shows. Just preaching - DON'T - only gets them uncomfortable, under confident and un-entertaining.
- Listen - Not just to their shows, but also to them. What are their struggles? You have to make things work in the studio and even though the engineering list with the bad pots, faulty phone system or software issues may seem like nit-picking it does make the job harder.
- Don't scare them - The more they dread the 'meeting' with you the less productive it will be. You can show your leadership and authority with the time sheets, showing up on time, and other 'hallway' areas. But when it comes to working on their show if they fear you your effectiveness in coaching will go down a ton. What you really want is their trust and respect - not their fear.
Lastly make sure you have a plan for each of the people you work with. For some it's role development, others it's getting comfortable on the air, some need to prep better, others may be challenged in understanding the target audience. Know what you need to work on before you open the tool box.
It takes time to work with the talent and the learning curve can be a tough one. It might even be an area where you want or need a coach to coach the coach.