Never Been Anywhere ... But They Know It All
July 19, 2016
One of the most irritating people in any business is the backseat expert on everything. In radio, just like life, sometimes a plan does not work. It seems as if every time something goes off course there is that one person who, as loud as can be, will tell anyone who will listen what should have been done. Even worse, they tell fictitious war stories of how things used to be done. The funny thing is most of them have never had an original thought or actually had any real success in the areas they are bragging about.
Unfortunately, this personality has been dealing with a situation and trying to understand what to believe.
Jock: My station is doing really well, but our afternoon guy keeps telling me how much better it used to be. Sam, I have done some checking and the ratings back when he was talking about were not nearly as good as they are now. I do not understand and he says the PD does not know this market. I do weekends and I've been doing this for four years. Could you shed some light on this situation?
Coach: It seems like every station has one or two folks like him. Apparently he just does not like the PD and/or anything new. People like him are always pointing fingers at what is wrong and never explaining how he used to do these miraculous feats of radio greatness. I bet he has never programmed or worked in any other market.
Jock: He has only worked at this station and he says he was once offered the programming job here, but turned it down.
Coach: Are you the youngest on staff?
Coach: He is just doing a lot of talking without a basis of radio reality or what I call radio IQ. It also sounds like he resents your PD. The best thing to do is to politely listen and let whatever he says go in one ear and out the other. I have worked around many personalities like him. They can be a real pain yet useful on the air if they will follow directions. The most important thing is to never repeat what he says to anyone, because he is always hoping to start a mutiny and show what a big man he is. Don't be lured into his or her BS. They usually start spewing innuendo mixed with half-truths when the ratings are down.
Jock: He is always talking about how screwed up something is. Or how much better radio used to be.
Coach: Give me an example...
Jock: Like when he first started here at the station the jocks were real personalities and talked about things.
Coach: Do have a way of finding out what the ratings were like during the time period he is talking about?
Jock: I do, because the local paper just did a piece on the station and back in the day this place was not even in the top 10 and now we are #4.
Coach: There you go; he is romanticizing and not dealing with reality. That and I bet the PD is getting a lot of credit. I am guessing but at the time he was bragging about, the rules for doing everything were a lot looser and the personalities were not completely up to professional standards.
Jock: The local paper did the interview with my PD.
Coach: I have never understood it, but some would rather be the captain on a sinking ship than be a part of something collectively grown. I can still hear a jock, who used to work for me, who would always preface his complaint as if he were speaking for all the jocks. I had enough and agreed with him on calling a jock meeting to fix an issue that was a non-issue; how to approach talk-sets. My MD was smart and soaked up as much about radio as he could. He would ask me why I let this one guy get away with shooting his mouth off about nothing all the time. I explained to him that sometimes it was best to isolate one person and let them think they were in charge. However, I did eventually put the mouthy know-it-all in his place.
Jock: What did you do?
Coach: I held a jock meeting and right off the bat I let him have the floor. He proceeded to say he and the other personalities needed more time to express on open-mic talk sets. He said they were rushing and this town was used to more personality.
Now keep in mind the station had three consecutive up books and was two shares higher than ever in the station's history. I let him finish and then asked, "Does B#ll talk for everyone?" No one raised a hand and I simply informed the jock to always check with the staff before he spoke on their behalf. That quieted him down for about three months until his ego came forward again.
Jock: That's funny.
Coach: Several of the personalities approached me later and agreed with you; they thought it was pretty funny too.
Jock: Is it like this everywhere?
Coach: Unfortunately, it is, to different degrees, at every station and in all formats. Let me share another story that happened at another station I programmed. This personality was the ultimate "prima donna" with talent and had no idea of anything else. He actually wrote this in a memo to the CEO of the company:
This is what your PD calls a normal four-hour show from yesterday
- A liner for a Valentine's promotion every hour. (This takes from my talk time.)
- I have to give away four pairs of concert tickets during my show.
- I am to read a live liner twice a show to push a morning show promotion, now remember there is a recorded promo that airs during my show, too.
- There is a $1,000 song contest that he says I am not adequately promoting. (He calls me every time if I miss anything with this)
How can I effectively do my show with all of this going on? I have never in all of my embryonic years in this business have I ever encountered anything like this. Creatively I am being stifled. And musically, I question what is being played. How can this person take us to the next level?"
Jock: OMG, how did you deal with him?
Coach: Like water off a duck's back; the CEO and I laughed our butts off, had a joint meeting with the personality, showed him the ratings under the previous PD, shared some music research, explained to him to follow directions, disagree off the air, and at the end of the meeting showed him the rating for his show before I arrived and what they were currently under my reign. We basically held his hand and explained there were some procedures and methods he had never been exposed to and the CEO pointed out that I would guide him through it.
Jock: Did he finally get it?
Coach: No, two nights later he wigged out on the air and skipped doing two concert ticket giveaways. I promptly wrote him up. He immediately wanted another meeting, but I purposely put him off for several days until our usual weekly aircheck-critique session. He never brought it up and I ended the meeting with, "Did you get my memo the other day?" He answered yes and that was it. I could overlook his narcissism because of his talent and likability with the audience; based on perceptual research. I figured as long as he played the music and followed procedures most of the time, the results would be pretty good. When it came to creativity, he was great and rarely did I have to redirect him in this area. Just by following my programming strategies, he constantly got the highest ratings he ever had. In private, the other personalities just put up with his occasional off-the-wall comments and actions. It is important to understand, I contained, but did not try and control him, I saw no reason not to put up with his insanity to get full use of his talents.
Jock: He really sounds a little like our afternoon jock.
Coach: Use this time as a learning opportunity. Lay back and watch how your PD deals with him. You will learn what not to do around a station off-air
No matter how long you work in this business or any other profession It's always the same regardless, there are always the one or two narcissists flapping their lips and complaining about anything and everything. It is a no-win situation; in their mind, nothing is ever right. Like I mentioned earlier, the best thing to do is listen and let it go in one ear and out the other. Never repeat anything they say, because someone might overhear and completely misinterpret your intentions; at such a point you might unintentionally become part of the problem.