What’s the best thing you’ve done on the air recently?
It’s a question I often ask air talent I work with, and one that always results in a long pause.
First, it makes people think about what they’ve done on the air recently (few do), and second, it makes them evaluate those things in the context of everything else they’ve done (most never do).
I’m privileged to work with some of the best morning teams in the format; Kevin and Taylor, Scott and Sam, Ellis and Tyler, and Steve and Amy. Each has worked together for at least ten years, some twenty, and at multiple radio stations together.
I’ve told them that their greatest strength is their greatest weakness. Their strength is that they are well-schooled in their individual roles, they know each other’s hot buttons, and they know what elements tend to do well. Their weakness? It’s real easy to do last week’s show, last month’s show, last year’s show.
As we continue to hear the buzz word “stories,” it seems to me that people are talking more, but not necessarily being all that interesting. Every movie is edited. Every book is edited (usually multiple times). Highlights are watched more than actual games. Top 10 lists are the vogue, not Top 100 lists. Stand-up comics start with a good 10 minutes, not a 90-minute HBO special.
The cardinal sin in radio is wasting people’s time. And from a coaching standpoint, believe this: if you can’t do a short break, you can’t do a long break. Most people tend to wander around, stagger into “related” thoughts that can easily take us off the main road into the forest somewhere, and instead of taking the First Exit – the first place where there’s a “reveal” of some sort or where the subject resolves – they keep trying to top themselves or fire more bullets into a dead body.
“It is what you make it” – my dad’s advice at various milestones in my life.
There was a time in my career when I considered a radio station no more than the sum total of the things that it did. The deejays, the music, the jingles, the contests. Like a sport being nothing more than the players, the field, the goal posts or bases. If that were true, then places like Cooperstown, New York, or Canton, Ohio, wouldn’t have significance since they aren’t home to the big league players and teams they eulogize.
Here’s how you jump start (or reignite) your creativity: Do something tomorrow that you haven’t done before.
I say this a lot to talents who are “pleasant” but not really creating anything memorable on their shows. And I don’t really care what that “something” is. The point is to go where you haven’t gone before; to add another arrow to your quiver.
The reply is usually “Like what?”
My kids recently took me to my first outdoor major league soccer game. I mean “match.” It was a lot of fun, but frankly there was a lot of stuff I simply didn’t understand.
Did you know that a referee can stick on extra time at the end for any reason he wants? I was confused. Now, I understand overtime in football, sudden death in golf, and extra innings in baseball, but I had no context for understanding why they kept playing AFTER the clock ran out until someone blew a whistle.
I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT’S HAPPENING!
No doubt about it, voice-tracking isn’t going away anytime soon. But it sure makes people lazy. However, there’s no reason why a voice-tracked Music Radio show can’t sound like it’s live.
But what happens often is that a jock sits down and thinks “I’ve got to fill 28 breaks” (or whatever the number is) and plows through them as fast as possible.
So here’s a tried-and-true method for voice-tracking that makes it pretty easy to still do a viable show: