I Guess I’m Glad I’m Not On The Air

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“However you make your living is where your talent lies.” – Ernest Hemingway

I used to worry about whether I could “hit the post” or not.  Or if I could come up with something worth hearing.   If it was a really good break, sometimes the GM would poke his head in the door and say something.  I really loved being on the air.

Now, in a world of continual partial attention, and diminishing interest from the higher ups, I can’t imagine being on-air.

That’s why I admire the people I meet who are dedicated to being the best they can be.  They’re just as enthusiastic and having the time of their lives.  They care about what they’re doing.

So I just wanted to say thanks, you’re keeping radio alive when ownership and other media have given up on you.  I know you feel strongly about creativity in radio.  I wish people had a better understanding of the value of talent relative to the music but I’m not sure they do.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “It’s all about the music.”  Or met on-air people who seem to just be “doing their time.”

But many of you defy that.  You’re doing what you know will relate and be relevant, and I admire you more than any media mogul I know of.

What’s The Role Of Your Talent

Dana Perrino (Fox News) in an interview with a U.S. Navy SEAL discussing all the countries he had been sent to:
“Did you have to learn several languages?”
“No, ma’am, we don’t go there to talk.”

Recently I heard that some in radio management said the music was all that counted on a station, that a the talent didn’t add much value.  In fact that the concept of “personality” radio was old school, and in modern times it was about having good DJ’s.  I really didn’t know what to say.

You certainly can’t turn good DJ’s into personalities, and maybe that was at the root of it.  You have to know the principles of personality in order to be one.  However, a blanket statement about personality being old school fade me to think, “That means the pilot of an airplane doesn’t matter, just the airplane.”

I consider the right personalities a “force multiplier,” another of those military terms I tend to use.  According to wikipedia, force multiplication, in military usage, refers to an attribute or a combination of attributes which make a given force more effective than that same force would be without it. How cool that you can have this kind of forcer multiplier at your station.

All it takes is a strategy of understanding what kind of talent and why. You can’t take the “good DJ” route and then wonder why you’re not building an ongoing relationship with your listeners. It takes strategic intent to hire or develop talent that can build the relationship. It’s more difficult than the typical approach, because, in my experience, the best talents are also the most quirky.  That’s a nice way of saying high maintenance.

That high maintenance is worth it when you’re in competition as much as we all are.  While a good DJ might be able to keep people from tuning out, a force multiplier talent is magnetic, drawing people to him or her.  They’re the elite special forces of the radio airwaves.  Strong willed, independent, unique and maybe even a little egotistical.

I don’t know about you, but if I were trouble I’d rather hear a Seal is coming to rescue me.

Talent and Teamwork

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”  – Michael Jordan

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The Golden Globes were on last night.  The Foreign Press was recognizing different TV shows, writers, directors, leads, supporting casts and such.  These programs are, among other thinks, a tribute to teamwork.  Every award winning movie has a full compliment of people who made it happen.  It wasn’t just a writer, a director, or a single star.  It was all of them together.  Every star who won something recognized the other people who worked on the film.

Michael Jordan is a wonderful example.  No one would argue that he’s a great basketball player, but he understood that he couldn’t win a game solo.  He understood the value of teamwork, and appreciated the opportunity to shine the team gave him.

The same scan be said about successful radio stations.  It’s not just one individual who may be the star, but the entire team.  Experience has taught me the converse is true too.  The best, most successful stations become that way of a team, not an individual.

This post is for those that disagree, who most likely consider themselves the sole reason a station is successful.  They’re the ones who think they have all the good ideas.  They’re the ones that consider themselves the star of the station.  They’re the ones who are looking at an unhappy and lonely future.

You’re on a team.  Celebrate it.