Last week, in Step 1, I let you in on the first step of my coaching process – which is primarily a “weeding the garden” period of stripping away outdated habits, and learning how Strategy is different from Tactics. (Tactics should grow out of the Strategy you’ve chosen for the station and for the show; not the other way around.)
The second step is where the real issues come to the surface: Developing Timing and Trust.
Both solo acts and team shows are all about timing. Stay with something too long, and you’re just another jock that can’t just shut up. Beating subjects into the ground, always searching for one more funny line, etc. just makes you the guest at the party who won’t leave. As Paul Simon wrote, “One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor,” and I’m always amazed at how one or two phone calls will serve as the gauge by which a talent measures his image or performance.
But the vast majority of people never get a PPM device or fill out a diary. Just like going to a restaurant and getting poor service or subpar food, most people don’t take the time to comment to management or on Yelp; they just never go back to that restaurant.
This is where Trust comes in. You have to choose what to stand for, what you will do and what you won’t do, and then develop the right timing in getting it on the air in a way that’s digestible.
This is where I work with people more as voice actors than disc jockeys or talk show hosts, because while “Content is King” is still quoted, the reality is that PERFORMANCE is King. Without performance ‘chops,’ even the best and most relevant Content will fall flat. And while I do want you to stay top of mind, if you’re a great personality, people will listen, no matter what you do.
There’s no one set mold for what makes a great air talent, but having a listenership that trusts you with their time every day is something the great ones have, and the ones that aren’t great yet don’t have.
While I help shape and coach the performance of “bits,” they’re not what you ARE, they’re just things you DO. The shows with my fingerprints on them are always “visit-driven,” not bit-driven. So the trust that we work on in the sessions with each other is very much the same as the level of trust you want from your listener.
A lot of air talents, especially in the Talk arena, think having great guests draws people to them, but that’s only a surface-level ingredient. Los Angeles great Phil Hendrie is proof: his “guests” are usually HIM (playing characters) and he’s absolutely riveting.
My buddy Mancow Muller in Chicago is another great example. He’s run the gamut from “shock jock” to Political commentary, radio to TV, author… and never missed a beat. Always interesting, always keeping things MOVING.
Wally, of The Wally Show on Contemporary Christian network WAY-FM out of Nashville, is a great example of both timing and trust – both in his on-air performance and in our coaching relationship. No one makes me laugh like Wally, and he’s an “idea fountain.”
Next week, Step 3.