You Can Do Better
September 24, 2013
For many, there is a disconnection between what we do and how it relates to the world around us. There are three clichés for this -- tunnel vision, forest for the trees, or you have blinders on. I can remember writing a promo for a contest and trying to think of every little detail before giving it to the Production Director to record. He voiced it and together we listened; we were going back and forth over the production elements. Then as if the heavens opened up, we both had a moment of clarity and laughed over the reality that listeners do not know what a promo is and no listener has ever called a radio station and asked for more production elements to be included.
I'll bet you are laughing right now because you've probably been guilty of the same narrow thought process. This limited view of everyday life can be the difference between an average air personality and an evolving one. Despite the current trend of smaller air staffs, I am encouraged by the number of jocks still wanting to become better at their craft. This e-mail is a perfect example.
Jock: I am following directions and doing the best I can to be that voice on the air everyone hears and says, "Wow, she is the best in town!" I have critique sessions whenever my PD has the time and he thinks I sound really good. But I feel as though I could do better.
Coach: What is it you think you could do better?
Jock: I live and breathe radio; just tell me how I can improve.
Coach: The best suggestion I can give you is to look outside radio to broaden yourself and accessorize your attributes as an air personality. As a jock you need to realize being on the air is one of the few professions that allows for a lot of individual quality time. The best way for a personality to improve oneself is to have a life outside the station. Then transfer the benefits of that back to the airways. I know jocks who have done a host of things:
- Take a writing course
- Sales classes
- Yoga class is great for focus
- Web design
- Public speaking classes
- Vocal lessons
- Teach in the Broadcast Department at a college
- Enroll in acting classes
- Take some marketing classes
- Work out at home or join an exercise club
- Explore the world of voice overs or audio books
Successful personalities do things to increase their value, stay in touch with the average person, expand their knowledge base, or be successful entrepreneurs. Some of the following you may or may not have heard of: WBLS' Jeff Foxx took classes at the famed Second City in Chicago; Keith Adams pioneered one of the Bay Area's first check cashing operations; KFKF's Dale Carter is a PD, a mornings personality, and a city councilman in Blue Springs MO; Chile Childs did evenings at WGCI and held down a full-time teaching job; Young Bobby Day once did an air shift and hosted a TV kiddie cartoon show; the late Theo Wade was on-air and owned a motel, and while dominating morning radio in D.C. and wooing fans on B.E.T; Donnie Simpson was also the weekend sports anchor at the NBC affiliate.
You will be amazed how your perspective will change if you start opening yourself up to other endeavors. I was rereading one of my favorite radio books, "Static" by Quincy McCoy. In it he mentions a writer by the name of William C. Miller who wrote the book, "The Creative Edge"; one of his essentials to foster innovation at work was changing behavior. He said "When people resist what we consider an obviously compelling plan, we need to read between the lines and discuss the un-discuss-able. Those who are particularly sensitive and defensive about preserving the old must open up to new ways of thinking and listening."
Having a narrow focus can keep you one-dimensional; explore other things and you will discover how it will help you grow as an air personality. I try to live up to my own advice; becoming a radio talent coach is one of the best career moves I ever made. Working with a variety of people has increased my knowledge of Internet marketing, opened my eyes to how people are working towards their dreams, come to appreciate radio veterans investing in themselves for continued growth, and I am constantly reminded that growth in this business will come from people with the drive to overcome whatever obstacles media conglomerates try instituting that stifle individual thought and creativity.
Jock: You have given me a lot to think about. My mom recently told me that she thought I was getting too wrapped up in work. I just joined a gym and one of the other jocks is taking singing lessons. I will try anything if it will help me be better on the air, I will give your suggestion a whirl.
Coach: Good luck!