If You Are Michael Jordan, Who Is Your Phil Jackson?
June 24, 2014
Radio is more like golf than it is like bowling, in that in bowling, you can actually perfect the game by getting 12 strikes in a row. In golf, you're never going to get 18 holes in one, so there's always room to improve over your last performance.
The reason I love talent to be fully immersed in improv training is for the same reason. In improv, even if you're Robin Williams, Will Ferrell, Melissa McCarthy, Jim Carrey, Tina Fey or Amy Poehler, there is no such thing as perfecting the craft of improv; there's always room to improve.
I've stated this in past articles, but will repeat it here, and will probably say it again and again in the future. There is no better training for on-air talent, than improv classes. Whether you're in the Talk format, or a music format, improv training will give you an extra dose of confidence in every break, in every shift, in any situation, because it will empower you with the ability to reach higher heights of elevation and success in that thing you do every day or every weekend.
Add the tool of improv to your tool belt and watch everything change in your career for the better, whether radio, whether a doctor, lawyer, or the stock crew at Wal-Mart.
Staying Ahead Of The Ratings Results
If you're an on-air talent, good ratings are not proof that you are good, and bad ratings aren't proof that you suck; but there is in the palm of your hand a tool that can help you affect that outcome, with a little more control than you may have had up until the time of reading these words.
Are you being airchecked? If you aren't, because you think you're beyond that, then you might as well quit reading right now. In Tiger Woods' greatest hour, he had a coach. In these times of struggle, he has a coach. Michael Jordan had Phil Jackson; Tom Brady has Bill Belichick. Who do you have?
If your station isn't offering this to you, on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, then you should be seeking it from sources outside of your station on your own, from other PD's you like or trust, or from other air talent you look up to.
When CJ Lusk was a part time talent in the Carolinas, and I had left programming for a gig at All Access, CJ had reached out to me for this exact reason; having been referred by Hawk Harrison, half of the Hawk N' Tom morning show in Greenville, SC.
To Quote Rudolph, "It's Not Very Comfortable"
I have to admit, that airchecking with me isn't a tender process, as I will quickly find the crutches and weaknesses that are in the way of your best performance. In between the first aircheck session and the second one, there is usually incredible growth, especially if you've applied most of the tips offered in the first session.
This was the case with CJ Lusk. What I loved about CJ's raw talent was his sense of humor, and his ability to get it to come out over 14 second intros, but CJ had some flaws, like too many thoughts per break and airing recorded calls the way they happened, versus going back before airing them and adding or taking away to create greater and more impactful humor or content.
While I'm a bit intense when it comes to growing talent, I don't spend a lot of time with talent on what they aren't doing right, but more so with what they ARE doing right. By focusing on the positive attributes, a lot of the negative habits go away naturally.
In the case of CJ, he went from part time at B93.7 in Greenville, SC to full time at Q107.5 in Memphis as the night jock. He continued to send me airchecks every two weeks, and we continued to work on growing his strengths.
Time And Chance Happeneth To Them All
When I was given the helm at 96.1 in Charlotte in 2004, the first jock I hired was CJ Lusk. I already knew how hard he worked at improving himself, and to some degree, I was his Phil Jackson, and he would more than prove that he was my Michael Jordan. He debuted at number one in Charlotte as a night jock, and never gave up the top spot in his time from 2004 to 2007, when he began doing a shift that started earlier, crossing from PM Drive to Nights, and reigning supreme from 4pm to 10pm well into 2011 when he left to do mornings.
His reign on top has followed him from market to market and is no different, in AM Drive in Memphis, where he is presently, at the station that started it all off for him, Q107.5. CJ has entertained several offers from some great stations and exciting markets, but has learned a great early lesson; market size is a myth, but quality of life and personal contentment are rare, and when you have those things you best not give them up so easily for a next move that is not an absolute.
Straight Path Media + Entertainment offers affordable airchecking services to on-air talent at all stages of their careers, from beginners to veterans; and all market sizes from podcasts executed from bedrooms, to talk and music shows in the top three markets.