Wanted: On-Air Experience
June 30, 2015
Over the last few months I have pleasantly been surprised by the number of OMs and PDs who still take the time to have weekly aircheck meetings with on-air talent. Hopefully, this is encouraging news for all air personalities.
In fact, some of the PDs tell me that several of their jocks are approaching them for the meetings. I love hearing this because it means air personalities are being proactive. It is easy to just have air talent play the music and keep the talking to 20 or 30 seconds. But to actually take the time to advise and consistently provide feedback, proves there are many in the programming ranks who still believe in training.
Currently the demand for qualified part-time and weekend air talent exceeds the supply. While many are working closely with the full-timers, the training ground has shifted drastically. Most stations no longer have the all-night show to work with the new talent. Recently, I was asked this question; how can I get on-on air experience if no one will give me an opportunity to learn?
Jock: I do weekends here, but I mostly just board-op weekend shows. The PD says I need on-air experience before he could ever use me to fill-in. But how do I get experience between this and school work?
Coach: I am assuming you are in college … what year?
Jock: Yes I am, this is my sophomore year.
Coach: Does the station allow you to use the production room?
Coach: One more question, does your college have a station and do you do a show?
Jock: Yes I am on and I do a couple of two-hour shows a week. I work on Friday and Monday nights. I do Alternative Rock.
Coach: Good deal, I suggest you use the resources you have. Have a conversation with the PD and tell him you want to learn what to do on the air. Ask him to critique your college show. But find out first how he wants the aircheck/demo put together. Once he listens with you and makes suggestions, ask him if it would be alright to work on his suggestions in the station's production room. I doubt he will say no, but will probably tell you to do it at a time when it's not being used and not when you are board-oping a show.
Jock: But it's a Country station.
Coach: Good radio is good radio; the approach to how to relate to the audience is the same regardless of format. All teachings are subjective, but there are some more accepted practices many expect of the air talent. Besides, you will probably be surprised to find out all the things your PD has done in radio. If you choose radio as a profession you'll find a lot of air personalities and PDs have experience with various formats. For example my radio work background includes Top 40/Mainstream, Urban, Rock, Urban AC and Country.
Jock: And it was all the same?
Coach: The only thing different was the music. The approach and relating to the audience was the same, give the audience what they want
Jock: What do you think my PD will say?
Coach: Like I mentioned, he will probably say yes to the production room for you to work on your air skills. Take advantage and get it done.
Jock: And if he says no?
Coach: Then take what he tells you and apply it to your two shows a week at college. Oh, and I forgot to mention, if he says yes, do the work in the production room and apply what he says to your college shows too.
Jock: I will give your suggestion try next week.
Some programmers have problems training others because they weren't really trained themselves. Many came from stations where the PD was on the air, moved up, and never learned talent development. If that's your situation, you can't ignore the problem and wait for it to bite you. Find an air personality, OM, or PD on social media with a track record and contact them for some help.
I also suggest to stations to consider dedicating a portion of station streaming for inexperienced air talent to get some experience. Do it during a weekend overnight. Let the eager young PT/weekend jock voicetrack and it will give you a chance to train them. I already hear the cries about budget; hey, you are a leader! Figure it out. In the long run, it will help you with the problem of finding good air talent. Grow your own. By the way, if it is an intern who works on their college station, make the on-line broadcasting a part of your agreement with the college/university internship program. Talk it out with human resources and the company lawyers.