Prepare Before You Start Your Air Shift
April 1, 2014
She Asked To Be Critiqued
Years ago I was moderating a panel on airchecking at a conference and we were critiquing demos within this forum. One particular personality took offense to some of our suggestions and became defensive. She proceeded to blame her performance on her PD, who happened to be sitting in the back of the room. The personality actually said the reason for part of her performance was the PD's fault because he was constantly changing liners in the studio.
The panelists and I continued to listen and her defensiveness continued with every suggestion made. After she sat down, one of the panelists made some summary remarks -- and before moving on I had one more question for her, "What time do you get to the station before going on-air?" She said, "Usually about 15 to 20 minutes prior."
Wow, and there it was ... she hit the airwaves on a daily basis without being mentally prepared to do her job.
For a number of reasons, it is important to get to work at least an hour before air time -- it lets you get settled, read memos, check with production, poke your head into the PD's office, do some more prep, and most important get mentally ready for show time.
Are You Ready To Go On?
Prep for your show at least an hour before going on; these days there are no newsrooms at music stations, so you have to check the Internet for news such as the weather and up-to-the-minute blockbuster information. Don't get lazy and do your prep during your show. The verdict is out, but studies are showing that multi-tasking is a myth. Trying to do more than one task at a time results in poor performance on all tasks. Do your homework. Read up on the artists and their music. Find out what is happening now ... both with the artists and their genre. Determine what your listeners are interested in. Keep the information handy on your computer and or smartphone. You can also do it old-school style and keep it in a card file. No matter how you store it, make sure you never leave for work without it and review it so you can readily recall and use the information on air.
The bottom line: You have to legitimately put part of yourself into your work, or the audience will not buy into you. Here is a personality who knows she needs to do better with preparation.
Jock: I am working part-time at the station for 38 hours a week. I work evenings and leave directly from my other job to get to the station and my air shift. I love radio but I feel rushed every day. I try and stay on top of stuff, but do not have time to read much of anything before I get to the station. I never feel prepared and try and make up by reading different social media sites while I am on the air. I live in the Chicago area and feel panicked everyday on the way in on the train. I am tired a lot and feel behind all the time. I try and read the picked over prep service stuff, and like I said, I check stuff while on the air.
Coach: Do you have an iPhone or iPad?
Coach: Are you familiar with Google Alerts?
Jock: Not really.
Coach: They are e-mails sent to you based on a search topic you set up. I suggest you Google it and read up on how to set them up. It might help you with your advance prepping and make you feel a little more prepared. Set them up to receive the e-mails as things happen; you can set up alerts on a variety of people, topics, and social media sites. While you are riding in on the train to the station from your other job, you will be able to read some things and not feel so uninformed when you get to work.
It's okay to check on things while you are on the air, but not okay to try and prep your entire show while doing your show.
Jock: I see your point. My PD has given me some ideas too, but we sort of miss each other in passing because I am on at 6p and he is usually still in meetings when I get to the station. We do have one-on-ones every other week, but even those are more like briefings. I am going to Goggle the alert thing like you suggested. Is there anything else that might help?
Coach: Nothing other than find something to get your stress level down; it sounds like all you do is work. Being an on-air personality should be a part of who you are and not your entire life.
Being Prepared Is Important
I love the fact this jock recognized the need for a more efficient way to show prep. Knowing there is a problem leads to solutions. Also, check with your fellow jocks and see how they prepare for their shows
In order to sound confident, a personality has to concentrate and focus for the composure necessary to sound spontaneous. Your mic time might be for only 20 seconds per talk set, but like an actor with only one line, you have to vocally sell it and make it sound interesting.