Airchecks & What Love Has to Do With It
June 25, 2013
I love questions from the frontline of radio ... the air personalities.
When it comes down to it, jocks are still an important cog in entertaining and informing listeners. Long before we were paying $20 to go to a movie, we were entertained by fisherman and hunters returning from the oceans and forests with tales of their latest conquests. Family and friends would listen to these stories and be amazed. Some air personalities have the same ability to hold a listener with the power of a story. Here is a conversation I recently had with a jock after critiquing his work:
Jock: What did you think of my aircheck?
Coach: Overall, I was impressed with your sound. You were warm and friendly, used the right amount of energy, were word efficient, used your voice well, were believable, talked directly to your audience, displayed great timing, wrote good content, and had the ability to be compelling with the things you say, especially with your knowledge of artists. It takes a creative mind to tell a story and have the listener forget about space and time. However, in some instances you do need to self-edit on the length of time you talk; although you have an incredible ability to turn simple music or artist information into something worthy of campfire listening, music radio is not the place for long stories.
Jock: I have a hard time knowing when it's too much and when to wrap it up.
Coach: It's a common problem. I never tell jocks to shut up, but I do tell them to get to the point as soon as possible, getting me to my listening destination in the shortest amount of time without losing the humanity of what's being said. Yes, your stories are too long, although compelling. I am sure you can trim things down a bit. Movie directors have a hard time paring down scenes, but they do it. You get my drift; nothing in music radio should take two minutes to tell. But I must confess, if you worked for me, I might experiment with your ability to tell a story. You need to accomplish your verbal commitment in backsells to no more than 40 seconds -- and less is better. And please do not interpret what I am saying to change your delivery and speed up, just make me laugh in a shorter period of time.
Jock: What you say makes sense, I will work on it
What the Heart Wants
Sometimes the heart can lead us down a path we never expected. My first year in college I attended a school in Iowa because of their awesome student radio station -- and the fact a lot of their leading personalities had just graduated, leaving the door was wide open for the taking, even for freshman. My hunch paid off and by the end of the first semester, I was the lead play-by-play man for basketball games, home and away. However, my heart and other anatomy pined for my high school sweetheart back at the University of Missouri. I transferred for the upcoming year, got an apartment off-campus near her dorm and a week before classes started, we broke up. Fortunately, I got a weekend job at a commercial station during my second week on campus and that helped fill the void. Therefore, I can sympathize with the following jock and his move across a continent.
Jock: Hi Sam, here is where I am at: Over the last eight years I have worked in radio in New Zealand. I have worked with some my country's greatest talents; I have produced #1-rated breakfast shows and hosted great radio programs. (Well, at least I think they were great.)
Three years ago I went on holiday, met an awesome Canadian girl, and fell in love. A year later I packed my bags and left the blue waters of New Zealand for the smoggy skies of Toronto.
I have been living here for about a year now, and I have applied for many opportunities and have only managed one interview; it was with the biggest station in town, but they decided to hire internally. I would do just about anything to get back with a station in some capacity, clean cars or hand out sausages. Given a chance I could prove I deserve to be on the air.
I have a crap laptop and a beaten-up microphone; when I try and put something together it sounds like s##t! Right now I am working as a telemarketer to pay the bills. I need some feedback on my demo and some help on what I should do.
Coach: I feel your pain, I listened to your aircheck and the sound quality is not that bad. I believe most OMs and PDs listen for an air personality's presentation and not the sound quality itself ... or at least that's the way I listen. Based on some of the lifestyle things you talked about in your demo, I am guessing this is a few years old. The first thing I suggest is that you get yourself airworthy again by doing mock shows. Once you think you sound like your old airself again, edit down a three-minute mock show and start applying for jobs in Toronto and surrounding towns. If you are asked whether your demo is from a live show, tell the truth and explain the only aircheck you had was dated. I also think you should tell your story of what brought you to Toronto. At some point someone will ask you to do a live, on-air audition. If you have been making at least one mock show a week, you will do fine and once again be employed in the world of radio. By the way, I would be more than happy to listen to the mock demo you want to eventually present for jobs.
I sure hope he gets back with me and if he does, I will let you know how his story turns out.