All Talent Is Not Created Equal
March 18, 2014
Sometimes those blessed with natural abilities to comprehend and flourish in their chosen field have a hard time understanding people not on the same accelerated level. Many times the gifted have Type-A personality traits and have a hard time with stress, keeping things in perspective, and working with others.
The fact that people learn and comprehend at different levels is what makes us human. Some of the gifted just do not understand how anything else could get in the way of work or achieving a goal. You already know I'm leading up to a story to make my point.
I Am Slow
During my days as a wandering air personality moving from one opportunity to the next, I always needed a few days to learn the studio board at my new place of employment. I would place sticky notes on the board for things like microphone levels and what different slide pods or buttons were connected to. Honestly, sometimes it took me a week or more to be able to do things without thinking about them. Because of my slow comprehension in these areas, when I began programming I always put new hires on the air at times that allowed them to learn how to operate the equipment at a pace suitable to them.
The Best I Ever Saw
Among all the personalities who ever strapped on a pair of headphones and worked for me, a jock by the name of BJ Murphy completely blew me away with his ability to learn any board within one shift; I hired him to work for me at three different stations and each time he learned the board in one sitting and could operate it as if he had worked there for years. He did not have any engineering capabilities or any other mechanical abilities I was ever aware of.
Now Getting To The Point
All this leads into this week's question from a young man who is wise in terms of what to say and do well beyond his age. He is another one who must rename nameless in order to keep turmoil to a minimum at his place of employment. I can say this much: He is 20-something and anchors a morning show.
Jock: Sam, I have an awesome ensemble cast for my morning show with really good chemistry, but recently my number-two person took a job to anchor her own show and I had to find a replacement. You have to understand, not only did I have great on-air chemistry with the person who left, but she also functioned as a producer and audio editor. Our show is very social media-conscious and every second is accounted for by each person on my team.
While looking for a replacement I found this young lady who has talent and great energy, I pretty much vetted her in two days and got my PD to hire her for the show. However, she does not seem to be keeping up with the group. She sounds great with the one feature I have her doing, but I have cut back on her air time because she seems like she is not into it.
Coach: Okay my friend, I am like a mechanic, you cannot just say my car is not working and expect me to be able to fix your problem, ha ha. I need some details. I have a few questions before I can access the situation;
- How many stations has this person worked at?
- Has she ever done mornings before?
- Is this the first time she has worked on the air as a member of an ensemble?
- Specifically what is the problem or problems?
Jock: She has worked at two other stations and unofficially did mornings at one as a fill-in host while someone was out sick for several months and the other time she co-hosted with the PD and was fired after six months. A friend of mine who I trust turned me on to her; she has got the sound, but she is not contributing much to our show prep sessions and has taken a part-time job to pay off student loans.
Coach: It does not sound like she has had much experience. Have you told her how you want her to prep? And what does your PD say about the situation?
Jock: I have told her to be observational and that prepping is all around her. To pay attention to everything she sees and figure out if it will fit our show. My PD leaves the operation of my morning show up to our group. He encourages and makes some suggestions, but sort of leaves us on our own. Our ratings have been pretty good and sales seem happy.
Coach: You sound like an exceptional talent and are one of those people who just seems to get it and intuitively knows what needs to be done. I am not sure how, but you seem to grasp the ability to prep by living with your eyes open. How many people are on your morning show and what is the average time for a talk set?
Jock: Including her, there are four people and we never go past a minute when doing a break on the air.
Coach: In my opinion you have one too many in the studio, but you said it worked with the previous ensemble member who left. First of all, please send me an aircheck of the show. Meanwhile here is what I think you show do.
Stop assuming she knows how to show prep and start holding some brief and casual one-on-one sessions with her to discuss exactly how you want her to prep and include any reading materials, prep services, or online areas you would like her to start reading. She really does not have much of a radio IQ to draw upon; it sounds like she has not really had many windows of opportunity to learn much.
It is also possible she feels intimidated by the ghost of the previous person and at this point might be dealing with some anxieties with her reduced role on the show. And you mentioned something about a second job; maybe she is having some financial problems because of the student loan. It's possible she is having a hard time coping with everything -- including her job with you. Based on e-mails previously exchanged between us, you are an exceptional talent at a young age and need to realize patience along with acquiring the ability to look past just the finished product of another person's work. You said she sounds great with the one feature; I think you and the cast need to help guide her with more detail on how to get things done. Take your ability to observe for show prep and apply it to understanding how other people live and learn.
Meanwhile, just in case this situation does not correct itself in a reasonable amount of time, talk to your PD -- both of you need to be ready with other options.