Ask The Coach

Ask The Coach: Why Do My Airchecks Suck?


QUESTION:  I am a new programmer and I am really struggling with airchecking my announcers.  I am on the air and I remember when I was airchecked by PDs and Consultants.  I hated it.  I used to sit there in fear, ready for them to list all the things that I did badly or could have done better.  Whenever I knew an aircheck was coming, I’d try my hardest to have a great show and that extra pressure only made my shows worse.  My experience was so bad that I wanted to make the airchecks I did better.  I don’t list of all the mistakes or missed opportunities my team make but I do give them a few things they didn’t do well.  I try and deliver the news quickly and positively but they still seem to be more demotivated when they leave.  I am worried I am making my team worse.  What else can I do to make these airchecks better?

ANSWER: We have all been there!  Coaching isn’t something you can just do, it’s something you need to learn and then constantly fine tune.  Acknowledging your effects on the team is a really positive start.

Across our industry personalities are frequently subjected to a coaching mistake – critiques where programmers focus only on the talent’s failings and weaknesses. This type of coaching never makes for a positive difference. It’s a myth that fixing someone’s weaknesses will significantly help improve their performance. At best, improving a weakness tends to only advance someone to an adequate level. They may achieve mediocrity, but never exceptional performance.

It is my belief that people’s potential for growth comes from discovering and developing their strongest skills, attributes and prevalent talents. Building on someone’s strengths puts them in the best position to significantly improve their performance.

Think about what strengths are for a moment; “Strengths are capacities a person has which they are instinctively good at and which energize them when practiced.” People are naturally going to be more motivated when they work on enhancing their strengths. It’s a lot easier to invest time and effort into something you enjoy and are already good at.

When you think about the best performers — in any field — you can immediately reel off a list of the things they do exceptionally well. After you have exhausted that list, you can find a fault or two. No-one is perfect. Everyone has weaknesses, even those delivering world class performances. The reason those weaknesses do not hurt the world class performers is that their strengths are so profound.

When you are working with talent, help them identify their strengths and begin a coaching plan to make those strengths even more profound. Here are some questions that may help get the conversation started:

  • What do you love doing on air?
  • What things come easy to you?
  • What things do you look forward to doing on air?
  • What things do other people say you do well?
  • What parts of your on air performance energize you?

The best coaching conversations are centered around discovering and building upon people’s passions and strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses and shortcomings. Developing someone’s strengths creates peaks in their performance, and your goal should be to raise the amplitude of those peaks.

Trying to fix weaknesses is the biggest coaching mistake you can make. Put your effort into building upon someone’s strengths to allow them to stand out and differentiate themselves.

If you have a question or would like to contact Paul for any reason then you can email  And don’t forget to follow Paul on Twitter @mrpkaye

ARTICLES Ask The Coach opinion

Ask The Coach: Do I Have The Talent To Succeed?


QUESTION:  Do I have the talent to succeed in radio?  – Numerous!

That is one of the questions that gets slung in my direction the most?  “Do I have what it takes to succeed?”  I think the answer for everyone is “yes”. It is my personal belief that every person can succeed if they work hard enough and put in the time. That’s not to say that everyone will achieve the same level of success.  They won’t.  It will also be harder for some people than it is for others.  That’s life.  But, if you want something enough and are willing to commit yourself – and be patient – then I believe you can succeed.

Why do I believe that?  Well…

Talent isn’t a gift of nature.  It’s like a muscle.  The more you work the muscle the bigger and stronger it can grow.  Stop working it and it begins to weaken again.  Yes, some people naturally have bigger muscles and greater strength, but everyone can grow their muscles if they work at it.  Talent should be thought of like a muscle.  It takes unimaginable dedication and perseverance, and often personal sacrifice but you can improve performance if you work at it.  You can take a good performance and turn it into something great.  Something spectacular.  If you really want to.

When I talk to people about improving their performance, one thing I recommend is keeping a “Performance Journal”.  I invite talent to capture their dreams in these journals.

The thinking is that if you write your goals down, it is more likely to happen.  Once you write a goal down, you bring it to the attention of your subconscious mind.  Then the Reticular Activating System in your brain brings relevant information to the attention of your conscious mind.  You are bringing the power of your whole mind – both the conscious and subconscious parts – to the achievement of your goals.  Sounds scientific, so it must be true!

Jim Carrey is a believer in this.  His famous story goes something like this…  In the early 1990s when he was a struggling comic trying to make his way in LA, he wrote himself a check for $10 million and dated it Thanksgiving 1995, added the notes “for acting services rendered,” and he carried it in his wallet from that day onward.  Every day it was a physical reminder of what his goal was.  He looked at it every day. Yup, you guessed it! He got the $10 million for his role in Dumb & Dumber in 1995.

The idea with the “Performance Journal” is to physically write down what you want to achieve.  Write down your dreams for the future.  Then each time you make an entry you reflect on your progress.  Are you getting closer to your goals?  What do you need to work on tomorrow to achieve  it?   Writing things down creates clarity.  It keeps you focused on what’s important.  With every entry you make, you add more clarity to what you want, constantly reminding yourself what it is you’re working toward.

Every day I encourage you to make a new entry and re-read your most recent entries.

Oh, and why not just spend a few minutes each day thinking about these things before you drift off to sleep?  And why can’t you capture these notes on your iPhone?  Well, there’s good evidence that the act of writing itself helps us remember things better. So make sure you physically write things down!

Building your talent is a mission.  This technique – the “Performance Journal” – helps you focus on the mission.  Achieve what you dream. You’re worth it.

If you have a question or would like to contact Paul for any reason then you can email  And don’t forget to follow Paul on Twitter @mrpkaye

ARTICLES Ask The Coach

ASK THE COACH: What Is ‘Great’ Content?


This week we’re not dealing with a question from just one person but a question that seems to plague our industry; what is great content?  I receive lots of audio from people asking if I think their demo is good and the content great.  I receive emails from people asking for advice on how to improve their content; how do I make it great?  I get lots of questions from air talent asking how they can become great.  If content is king, then creating great content seems like something we should all be aspiring toward. So…  just what is great content?

I think its fair to say that many shows and air talent in general don’t know what great content should sound like. They have heard people talk about it but have never experienced it for themselves. No one has ever taken the time to define it for them let alone explain what they need to do to achieve it. That’s not a reflection on the shows but a reality of not clearly defining what great content is.

Too often we judge ‘great’ purely by the results we’re achieving. In radio we declare a show as great because of the ratings it garners. If the ratings are high the show must be great, right? That isn’t always the case. There are many shows that are marginally better than their competitors and so dominate the ratings. They aren’t creating great content; if your competitors are delivering poor content you can win by having slightly better than poor content. That doesn’t sound like a legacy anyone would want. Winning ratings alone doesn’t make you truly great. Achieving greatness means creating content that lives on past the moment of consumption; consistently deliver content that does this and you will win ratings for the right reasons and for a long time.

Let’s take a moment to try and define what great content is. Great content is something that stops you in your tracks. It piques your interest and draws you in. It moves you from passively listening to actively listening; pulling what is happening on the radio from the background right to the forefront of your thoughts. It has your full attention. It could be happy, sad, funny, infuriating or intriguing as long as it provokes a feeling inside you. You can’t walk away from it — you can’t turn the dial to off — you simply can’t stop listening. You want to know what will happen next. The emotion it evokes within you lasts longer than the initial consumption. If it is really great you will find a way to share it with others.

Before we can talk about the 5 essential elements that are apparent in great content there are a couple of fundamentals that need to be present in order for your great content to be heard. Firstly, you need to know who the content is intended for. You need to clearly identify who your target audience is – how they live their lives, what their hopes and fears are, how they view the world. Then apply that understanding to ensure the content you are selecting has appeal to that audience. Great content always starts with relevance. If your content selection is not suitable for the audience you are intending it for, then it has already failed.

Secondly, content is — and will always be — subjective; what appeals to one person may not appeal to another. You need to accept that great content doesn’t have to be seen as great by everyone. The finale of Seinfeld — regarded by many as TV’s greatest sitcom – was watched by 76 million people in a country where 321 million people live. Some of the 245 million people who didn’t watch the show won’t have liked the show. In fact there will be some who thought the show was awful. That’s ok. You can achieve greatness without everyone liking what you do. Great content requires bravery from its creators to showcase their individual passions, beliefs, values and views to the world in spite of who might not like it. To be loved you must be authentic. Not everyone you know likes you. That’s a fact. But they know what you’re about and what you stand for. Trying to create content that pleases everyone will result in a cacophony of blandness. If you want your content to be great you need to be genuine.

Those are the fundamentals you need in order for your content to be heard. Next comes the 5 essential elements that all great content shares. These are the commonalities identified in the execution of all great content. When these 5 elements are present, and the fundamentals we discussed are evident, the content you’re creating has the power to stop you in your tracks.

  1. Context. The content is in keeping with the expectation the audience has of your show (and the characters on the show). Think for a moment about Sex & the City. The show was about ‘four best friends navigating sex and relationships in New York” and every episode — in fact every scene — lived up to that expectation and worked to enhance that position. You never once tuned in and witnessed the show doing anything else. Great content fits within the context — or storyline — of your show. It supports the central theme and what the audience should/has come to expect from you.
  2. Unpredictability. Something happens that the audience didn’t expect. As you listen you are silently wondering “Where is this heading?” “What will happen next?” “How will they get out of this?” The destination is unknown to the audience. This creates a sense of drama that propels the audience to keep listening. Listener’s want to be surprised. Predictability is boring.
  3. Storytelling. The content is built around an interesting and intriguing story. There is a clear protagonist and antagonist in the content. The protagonist is faced with a challenge. During the course of the story they must overcome their obstacles before arriving at a resolution. Storytelling is what bonds us together as humans. There’s nothing more powerful.
  4. Vulnerability. Having the courage to embrace your imperfections. Letting go of who you think you should be and just being yourself. Being transparent and open with the audience; sharing yourself in a way that deepens the connection with your audience. Saying what you really think without self-editing and second guessing yourself.
  5. Different. The content stands out for being extraordinary. Ordinary isn’t compelling but the extra layers you add to what is ordinary can be. This is about how you treat content to make it more impactful. It’s about asking what else we can do with this content to make it bigger. The bigger the impact the more memorable your content will be.

Bad content is obvious to spot; it has no clear target audience, lacks relevance, and is devoid of any authenticity. Average content has a specific audience in mind and relevance but still lacks authenticity. Good content builds upon average content by demonstrating authenticity and often one or two of the 5 essential elements. Great content happens when the content is targeted, has relevance, the hosts are authentic and all 5 of the elements — context, unpredictability, storytelling, vulnerability and difference — are demonstrated in the show.

See how well your show is performing; a useful exercise is to randomly select some of the content pieces from your show and evaluate them against the descriptors above — the 5 essential elements. Challenge yourself to be better at showcasing them in your show. The more you do, the greater your content will become!

Think of the 5 elements as pistons in an engine, you want all of them working in unison to power your content.

If you have a question you’d like to ask then email  If you would like to contact Paul for any reason then you can also email  And don’t forget to follow Paul on Twitter @mrpkaye

Ask The Coach

ASK THE COACH: Should Everyone Be Treated The Same?


Q:  Do you believe its right to treat people on your team differently?  I am frustrated that people are treated differently here at our station.  Some people seem to get much more attention.  I thought management were supposed to treat everyone the same.  What’s wrong with the people I work for? – Anonymous.

A:  Thanks for your email.  This is going to be tricky to answer for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I don’t know the specifics of your situation and don’t quite understand the nuances of what’s going on but I would say my fundamental belief is that everyone should be treated fairly – that I believe is a reasonable ask and if that isn’t happening then there is probably something wrong..  Secondly, I don’t agree that as a manager you should treat everyone the same; fairly yes, but not the same.

I have spoken and shared my thoughts on this before.  In particular I tend to hear from people often who say they notice that their managers (GMs and PDs) spend disproportionate amounts of time with people and it frustrates them.  I tell those people they’re working for smart people.  It’s the managers who spend the same time with everyone on their teams that may not be as smart (I’ll admit their intentions are probably good though!)

As a manager it is their responsibility to prioritize who on their team will get the most of their time, energy and focus. There is only one of them and to get the best results they need to be deliberately treating their talent disproportionately. They need to identify who their star performers are and devote the majority of their time and attention to them. Managers should be spending significantly less time with the under performers and the average performers.

For some people this is an uncomfortable concept to wrap their heads around. It shouldn’t be. The people on a team aren’t all contributing the same value and if they aren’t all contributing the same value a manager shouldn’t be equally distributing their attention to them.

For the naysayers to this method of talent management I think it’s useful to consider how we treat our customers. We want all our customers to believe that they’re having their expectations met but the more a customer spends the higher their expectations of us are and the more we are keen to super serve them; they are making a greater contribution to us than other customers and therefore we are more focused on devoting our time and efforts to protecting that contribution. It doesn’t mean we think less of our other customers. We have just identified that putting a greater emphasis on protecting and growing our biggest contributing customers has the greater return for us. Often this approach makes for a healthier business.

Intuitively people tend to think it makes sense to spend most time with those who need the most help. For years we have been told to spend our time and energy on our weakest links. On average a manager spends one day a week addressing poor performance; working with employees who don’t meet the minimum standards and who impact the team’s productivity and drain the resources. While manager’s are wrapped up addressing under performance, it is the star performers that are missing out. We seem to forget that star performers are a primary source of competitive advantage for our business.

Science supports this idea; a researcher from the University of Michigan found that “Managers who spend more time with their strongest performers, rather than the weakest performers, achieved double their productivity.” It’s simple really: The people who need manager’s the most are rarely the people who give the team the most. Managers should be flipping their thinking so that they are top-driven, not bottom-driven, when it comes to talent management.

Managers should assess their team with the Performance v Potential Matrix to help them illuminate those employees to spend time with.


There’s little benefit spending time with the poor performers. They have low potential, so the return on a managers efforts will be low at best. There’s very little benefit spending time with the solid performers either. They perform well but have low potential so aren’t likely to deliver anything other than the results you already see. There are only two areas worth much consideration… the areas where employees have high potential. Managers do need to invest in those who are under achieving currently; they have the aptitude, a manager just needs to help them improve their skills or find consistency in their performance. However, a manager’s primary focus should be on their star performers as they already demonstrate exceptional performance and have the potential to contribute even more.

The advice I offer is for manager of spending more time with their star performers doesn’t mean they can ignore the weakest performers altogether. Managers do need to coach them to be able to perform at a suitable level. The advice I offer is about managers shifting their emphasis, time, energy and effort to their star performers. I encourage managers to stop focusing the majority of their time and energy on the under performers and instead play favorites and spend the majority of their time with the top performers.

That can feel for some I am sure as treating people unfairly. It’s not.  Fairness is about how we behave toward one another; it’s about consistency in our dealings and our values.  It’s about holding everyone accountable to the same standards.  It’s about being empathetic to someone’s challenges and needs.  Devoting different amounts of energy, attention and time to people on the team is smart.  Time is not unlimited and management have to be smart on how they allocate resources.  Ultimately it will benefit the business and all of those within the business.

Hope that offers a perspective that may help understand why managers may opt to allocate their time disproportionately.

If you have a question you’d like to submit then send it to me on Twitter @mrpkaye or email


On The Move: Marc Michaels New Evening Host X929 Calgary


Ray White: You Can’t Keep A Good DJ Down


Freelance Writer Ben Fong Torres 

DJs and program hosts variously sit and stand at their consoles — whatever they feel like doing. Ray Whitedoesn’t have that luxury of choice. To walk, he requires two canes. As the afternoon drive announcer on the classical music station KDFC from 3:30 to 8 p.m. weekdays, he will sit, thank you.

White, 65, contracted a polio-like disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome, when he was a 15-year-old in Hartford, Conn. Until then, he had been an athlete as well as a music lover.


“I got paralyzed from the waist down,” he said. “I could never get rid of it.”

Looking back, he drew strong connections between his disease and his career.

“Somebody once said to me, ‘Music saved your butt.’ She was right. While he was in the hospital in Hartford, a DJ from WDRC, White’s favorite rock station, came by. Impressed by White’s radio knowledge, he invited him to visit the station when he was discharged. White got out, got the tour and got hooked on radio. He began hanging out at stations.

“I’d get coffee or once in a while, when a guy went out for a smoke, I’d get to run the board.”

When he recalls those times, he thinks of the Cameron Crowe movie “Almost Famous,” about a teenager who falls in love with the music scene. White estimates that he’s seen it a million times.

“At our home, it’s huge. My son Harrison, who’s 17, will ask me, ‘Russell, what do you like about music?,’ and I’ll turn my chair around and go, ‘To begin with: everything.’”

That’s the last scene from the movie.

Although he naturally gravitated toward rock as a kid, when it comes to classical music, he’s no Johann-come-lately. Around the house, while his father played jazz artists likeAhmad Jamal and Abbey Lincoln, his mother exposed him to concertos by Griegand Rachmaninoff.

But it was rock, not Rachmaninoff, that White spun in his first radio stints, at WLIR on Long Island and at WNEW-FM in Manhattan into the late ’80s. He would move to smooth jazz on “CD 101.9” in New York for most of the ’90s, until KKSF in San Francisco plucked him for an eight-year run.

After a format flip, White found himself seesawing between rocking on KFOG and doing straightforward announcing on KQED. He also began part-time work on KDFC.

“It was great,” he says. “It sorta scratched all my itches.”

Jazz, rock, classical and PBS. To White, it’s really all the same. “It doesn’t matter if I’m introducingPink FloydJohn Coltrane or Beethoven,” he says. “I’m talking to a friend, to one person. I’m not on a PA talking to thousands.”

That conversational tone is what KDFC is all about. As station President Bill Lueth puts it: “Ray has a wonderful down-to-earth presentation that is inviting to a broad audience, and that fits with KDFC’s accessible approach to classical radio. With his radio background in rock and smooth jazz, he brings an interesting perspective on how classical music is relevant to us today.”

At KDFC, White works in a modest-size studio — sterile looking, really, with beige walls free of the posters and memorabilia that clutter many studios — and faces one monitor showing the programming schedule, and another computer he uses to check news, email and, once, an online pronunciation dictionary to help him announce conductor Tamás Vásáry’s name correctly.

Unlike most stations, KDFC has no news, traffic or weather reports. As with his colleagues, Hoyt SmithDianne Nicolini and Rik Malone, White has no need for a producer. Pronunciations aside, it looks like a low-pressure gig.

The biggest challenge in recent years came early in 2011, when KDFC, previously owned by Entercom Media, had to reinvent itself as a public station, cobbling together transmitters to supplement its primary signal at 90.3 (formerly KUSF) and depending on listeners for much of its revenue.

Early on, listeners had to work to find KDFC’s various signals. Now, White says, many have adapted to the Internet, to KDFC’s app, and to adding antennas to get the station, which now ranges from the Napa Valley to Monterey and Big Sur, where KDFC recently added transmitters.

While the Budapest Symphony Orchestra performs “Symphonic Minutes,” White swings our conversation back to other musical genres; he’s friends with smooth-jazzers like David Sanbornand rockers like Joan Jett; he just got back from Desert Trip, otherwise known as Oldchella, and raves about Roger Waters’ set, and about the festival of rock legends in general.

“That was how to do it right.”

He recalls working in a jazz record shop in Hartford, and learning guitar and banjo, and “lovingPete Seeger and Bob Dylan” before studying classical music.

“I don’t pick sides,” he says. He just plays them.

Ch-ch-ch-changes: Melanie Morgan, morning news anchor on KSRO in Santa Rosa, but much better known for her long stints on KGO and KSFO (with Lee Rodgers), is leaving. But, she says, “I am not retiring. … I’m just hitting the pause button.” Morgan, wife of KCBS programming chief Jack Swanson, says she’ll continue to work for Move America Forward, which she co-founded in 2005 to advocate for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I am ready for a new lifestyle,” she said, “but I don’t know what that looks like yet” … KGO news staffers, let go in late March when the station flipped back to talk, are making tracks to KCBS, where the boss, Swanson, knows them from when he programmed KGO news. Among the familiar voices: Jon Bristow,Scott Lettieri, Jeannie Lynch and Jennifer Hodges.

Ben Fong-Torres is a freelance writer.

Ask The Coach

ASK THE COACH: What Makes A Great PD?


Q: I am an APD in a medium sized market and I want to grow.  I work for a company with lots of radio stations and opportunities but I am often overlooked when we have PD openings.  I will confess that some of this is my fault; I have become a little complacent.  But, my PD is new and my GM is a sales guy and aren’t really focused on my development as a result.  I want to show our Director of Programming I am ready to be the company’s next great PD.  I would love your advice on what it takes to be a great PD.  It is my hope I can work on developing those skills ready for that next PD opening?  Thank you.

A:  I love your ambition and the honesty in your email.  It takes bravery to label yourself complacent; it now sounds like you want to do something about it!  Let’s see if I can offer some perspective that may help you.

Programming a radio station is not an easy assignment. The PD collaborates in the creation of the strategic plan and takes responsibility for its effective implementation. It’s a big undertaking. Programmers have to balance the science of radio programming with the art of content creation. They have to take the station they can hear in their head and make it come alive through sound. They must recruit and develop a team of highly creative, challenging and determined individuals and make them work as a cohesive team. They have to find ways to continuously keep the radio station top of mind in a time where consumers have never had more choices and less time. They have to stay up to date with the ever changing competitive landscape (no longer just limited to terrestrial radio) and anticipate future trends. Most importantly, they have to perform under the constant pressure of needing to deliver winning ratings to the sales department.

I spent some time considering your question and came up with a list of traits and behaviours that are seen in great programmers. Hopefully this list will help you identify areas of personal development.

Great programmers are…

  • Strategic
  • Decisive
  • Obsessive
  • Opportunistic
  • Creative
  • Positive
  • Relentless
  • Focused
  • Confident communicators
  • Nurtures (of talent and teams)

Great programmers know

  • … what makes their station different. The station’s unique offering is crystal clear to them. They know the need – or mood – their station serves.
  • … they have the same 60 minutes as their competitors to program each hour. They use that time to battle for the listener’s attention; offering a consistent listening experience.
  • … and understand their audience. They have a clear picture of who their station is talking to.
  • … where their time goes. They focus on the important tasks more than the urgent tasks.
  • … how to sustain a “no surprises” environment for the GM.
  • … how to create a positive, creative, stimulating and challenging working environment.
  • … they can’t execute the plan alone. They build great teams.
  • … successful talent development is building on people’s strengths, not weaknesses.
  • … that what they keep off the air is often more important than what they put on the air.
  • … taking risks is needed in the constant pursuit to innovate and evolve.
  • … that even the Titanic was sinkable!

Great programmers ask

  • … for — and value — the opinion and ideas of others.
  • … a lot of questions. They are innately curious about everything.
  • … what can we do today — this minute – to get the station noticed?
  • … how can I help my team learn and grow today?
  • … is there a way to make the station more compelling, topical, local, entertaining informative, relatable or memorable today?
  • … which of my talent is in the bottom 10% of the team (on and off the air), and what’s the plan for improving or replacing them?
  • … where is my next talent hire coming from?

Great programmers don’t

  • … underestimate their competition.
  • … waste branding opportunities.
  • … become — or allow their team to become — complacent.
  • … stop learning and developing themselves. They stay on top of new thinking, trends, technology.
  • … allow the morale to be anything other than positive amongst the team.
  • … over-complicate things. They know the secret to success lies in simplicity.

Most importantly, great programmers know that building a memorable radio station is a marathon with no finish line — the price of success is always more competition. It’s not a job for the faint hearted.

Good luck with the next PD opening.  I have my fingers crossed for you!

You can follow this conversation on Airchecker’s world famous radio Twitter feed @Airchecker

Airchecks ARTICLES Net News

Morning Radio Personalities Reflect Life After The iPod | How They Had To Change Show


It didn’t look like a big deal, at the time.

“I vaguely remember the – I guess, the debut of the iPod,” says Rock 92 morning radio co-host, Chris Demm – yes, one of those “2 Guys Named Chris.”

It was 15 years ago – Oct. 23rd, 2001 – when Steve Jobs introduced the iPod … only eight months after introducing iTunes.

Elon University music production professor, Todd Coleman, was a fan of the product and saw, early on, the havoc it could create.

“I thought the real disruption was being able to buy single tracks. I think that had a bigger disruption than just physically carrying your songs with you,” says Coleman. “It allowed people to listen to just the songs that they wanted, and purchase them.”

Now, why flip on the radio to hear your favorite song when you already have it … in your pocket?

“We have changed the show,” admits Demm. “It was a combination of technology and also market forces.”

Particularly when Apple opened up the iPod and iTunes to Microsoft Windows technology and sales took off, the smart radio stations like Rock 92 (WKRR in Greensboro) evolved with the times. Instead of playing rock music as they always had, they quickly transitioned into a personality-based morning show, using the talents of Chris Demm and his partner Chris Kelly.

“And I was terrified of it, because I thought, ‘What are we going to do to fill four hours?’” says Kelly.

But they adapted just fine – winning awards for their show and having one of the largest radio audiences in the Carolinas, even after other technology was created to compete with them, like the streaming services Pandora, Spotify and Apple Music.

“It’s pretty easy to get in the car and flip on the radio and not have to worry about building playlists, or downloading stuff or subscribing to stuff – it’s always there,” says Kelly. “And we have found that, yes, people who are using Spotify and iPod and all those things but often times not at the expense of radio.”

And Professor Coleman points out, in some ways these new technologies have brought new fans to radio.

“With the rise of the iPod and iTunes, when Apple made it very easy to subscribe to these podcasts, even talk radio I think in a lot of ways was impacted in that younger people who normally didn’t listen to talk radio,” says Coleman. “They only listened to music but they were now tuning in to podcasts about Harry Potter.”

And often then tuning into, “2 Guys Named Chris,” the next morning … see why, in this edition of the Buckley Report.

Net News

Will Kevin & Sonia Be The New Morning Crew At KiSS Radio Vancouver?

Hot news that Kevin & Sonia fired from PEAK Vancouver in August are front runners for the new morning crew at KiSS Radio Vancouver. For those of you who are expecting a format flip this won’t happen. Rogers has all the parts in place to continue with the KiSS brand in Vancouver. A winning morning show will give Vancouver listeners a new alternative with Kevin & Sonia.

In the meantime Ara Andonian will slide into the morning air chair.  

AC says “It’s a perfect fit for the duo who have a huge following in Vancouver. Kevin & Sonia are winning performers who make a perfect fit for the demo  for Rogers Vancouver” 104.9 Vancouver has hired the best talent in the biz over the years. Rogers has tried every format with bottom ratings results. Kevin & Sonia are young & fun who will refuel KiSS Radio with a solid morning show.

Airchecker will keep you tuned as the news develops. Follow this conversation on the Airchecker’s Twitter radio feed @Airchecker More radio pros tune into Airchecker than any other source.

Read more of the back story here.


August 16th Kevin & Sonia say the following.

Thank you for all the incredible support we’ve gotten over the last few weeks since being let go from The PEAK. We’re truly touched to read every single one of your messages. Because it seems many people are only now hearing about the news, we’re re-pinning this to the top of the page. We’ve elaborated more in our Facebook Live videos, which you can find below here on this page. Love you all!!


Effective Radio Station Liners And Promo Writing For Today’s Market

linersTech Featured. Find your niche in the radio industry.

Avinash Pudota takes a look.

Look around and what do you see? Ipods®, mini Ipods®, Cell Phones, Satellite radio, Internet radio and Tivo®.

Excited about being in the radio industry today? Since I first entered the world of radio in 1976 I have seen the landscape change, but few stations have changed with the times. The one noticeable lack of change has been in the liner department. The same plan of attack as always. Find a voice, have them cut a few lines every week for freshness and that’s it. Creativity is relegated to the program director (PD) who has enough work for two people.

Most PD’s have had their creative juices squeezed out of them with meeting after meeting. You need a creative force on your side. A member of your team that is not in the daily grind, but on the outside looking in with an objective view.

Scott has watched for the past twenty years as market share for traditional radio stations continue to decline as newer video games, better ipod® devices and technology yet realized find their way into our reality.

Promos, liners and sweepers are not something you write because they are funny or creative, they are written because they fit the “big picture” concept of the station. Just like the music must have a “feel” so must the liners and other elements.

The demand for creativty within the radio industry has never been greater.

ARTICLES Ask The Coach Net News

ASK THE COACH: Do I Hire Someone With An Ego?


Q: I am a relatively new PD and we have a vacancy for a morning show host.  We’re a medium sized market station and the applicant I want to offer the job to is a former major market personality (mornings and drive), but my GM didn’t get a good feeling for him when we went to dinner.  He said “What are we going to do about his ego? Is that going to be a problem?”  My GM is suggesting we don’t hire our front runner and go for an easier option.  What do you think?  Should I be worried about this host having an ego? Should I hire him?

A: Great question!  I am sure there will be many people reading this nodding their heads in agreement.  I empathize with the situation you’re in.  The answer isn’t a black or white.  My belief has always been that “a big ego is crucial for success.” I actively encourage people to consider and evaluate the ego of those they are bringing into their teams; “They do have an ego right? After all a big ego is crucial for success.” However, there is a difference between good ego and bad ego.  You’ll need to figure out which is prevalent in the candidate.

There’s no question that ego has a bad reputation. It is common to hear the term ego portrayed only as a negative trait. You hear people complain about another person uttering the phrase “He has a huge ego.” How many times have you heard someone say “his ego is too big for the room” when someone loudly talks only about themselves? Often people who are boastful and arrogant are quickly labelled as egotistical which adds to the negative PR that ego receives. People are all too quick to protest; “I don’t have an ego!” But you do. We all do. An ego is simply part of who we are.

Don’t get me wrong, our ego needs to be managed well to avoid it becoming self-destructive and we’ll get to that later…

Statements like, “he has a big ego” should actually be seen as compliments, not insults. Having a big ego isn’t a bad thing; it’s essential for achieving peak performance. I read a quote that has always resonated with me: “To have a large ego does not imply arrogance, but demonstrates pride in our past and a confidence in our ability and our self-worth.”

Your ego is your sense of self-importance. The larger your ego, the larger your self-esteem. It is our ego that breeds our self-confidence, our drive for success and our optimism.

All champions have a big ego. Without a big ego they would never have reached their fullest potential and become champions. Consider Mohammed Ali who proclaimed “I am the greatest.” His supreme confidence is what helped him build his legacy. Many great athletes – and the world’s most successful people – believe they are the greatest. They have unwavering belief in themselves. Your talent with no belief won’t help you reach the greatness you were destined for. You must possess unquestionable self-confidence.

Your ego acts as an inner reserve; a powerful source of your past successes and experiences. People with big egos understand that there will be times when they are faced with uncertainty and when they are presented with obstacles that feel insurmountable but, it is at this moment that they can reach deep within themselves — into their inner reserve – and remind themselves of their accomplishments and what makes them great. Pulling on their past successes and knowledge to remind them of what they are capable of. It is their ego that propels them to keep moving forward.

People with big egos are better at confronting their fears. Fear prevents many people from taking action. They don’t seek that promotion at work because there’s a chance it may not work out. They opt not to openly speak their mind in case they are judged or criticized. They chose not to take risks in case they fail. These people are paralyzed by fear. People without big egos are hesitant to push themselves into the unknown. Someone with a big ego — that inner reserve of self-belief — doesn’t hesitate. They don’t doubt themselves. Their ego brushes any self-doubt out of their path and they take that next step forward.

However, there is a need to control your ego and not let it control you. Without the proper care an ego can be dangerous to one’s performance. It can create a ‘me-centered’ agenda that makes you overconfident, over ambitious, manipulative and dismissive of others. Some tell-tale signs that ego has taken control over you may include:

  • Becoming increasingly defensive
  • Continually comparing yourself to others
  • Desiring constant recognition and reward
  • Constantly wanting the limelight to showcase yourself
  • Seeing others as rivals; spending time planning to look ‘better than them’
  • Rejecting the ideas and suggestions of others simply because they weren’t yours

Having a big ego is crucial for peak performance but, it is up to us to ensure our ego remains healthy. Humility is the secret to a healthy ego. Humility has the power to keep us interested in others, and to seek their perspective and input in order to better ourselves. Humility prevents our personal needs from dominating every interaction and experience. Humility helps us see success as ‘we’ rather than ‘me.’ You need a big ego, but you need an equally big dose of humility to ensure your ego is a help and not a hindrance.

Having an ego is part of being human. We shouldn’t dismiss talented people because “they have an ego” instead we should start seeing ego as a positive trait. Acknowledge that exceptional performance can’t be achieved without developing an ego; the best believe in themselves. Simply be wary of people who can’t control their ego; they’ll lack humility.

The real question you have to figure out right now is… What kind of ego does this person have?  And most importantly is this person humble?  Good luck!

 Our aim is to create a virtual place where talent – on air, producers, programmers and whoever else – could ask questions about improving performance and get a response.  I truly believe the more questions we ask the better our chance of success. 

You can tweet questions to @Airchecker or @mrpkaye using the #AskTheCoach or email in confidence to

Ask The Coach

ASK THE COACH: What Makes Great Talent… Err… Great?


As the cursor blinks on my laptop screen, I feel privileged that you have invited me to share my thoughts, opinions and insights with you in this new blog.  I will be honest and say straight away that I don’t know if my thoughts are right.  We work in a business that lives somewhere between science and art – in one of those great grey areas of life.  That’s what makes radio so special – the fact there is no one right way to create it.  I’ve become comfortable with my opinions being unpopular or even wrong as I am a lover of learning and welcome the opportunity to be taught by you through this blog.  Our aim was to create a virtual place where talent – on air, producers, programmers and whoever else – could ask questions about improving performance and get a response.  I truly believe the more questions we ask the better our chance of success. You can tweet questions to @Airchecker or @mrpkaye using the #AskTheCoach or email in confidence to

Let’s get started!  As this is the first blog I wanted to reflect on talent and one of the questions I am most often asked; “How do you spot talent that has the potential to be great?”

Great talent makes the difference. It’s undeniable. Great talent gives your brand a point of difference. They get you noticed and talked about. They create desire and excitement. Through their content they motivate audiences to find them — and then keep coming back. Great talent is still — and always will be — your secret weapon.

I won’t argue that the music — on a music station — has to be right for you to have a chance of competing, but we all know it can be copied. Instantly. You will never be able to truly win without the best talent in between the music. Look at your own budget and the proof is right there in black and white; the music director isn’t paid anywhere near what you’re paying the morning show, right? I’m not making this comparison to undervalue the very strategic and artistic skills of music directors, but our budgets alone prove the point; you simply can’t win without having great talent!

I acknowledge you could still be number one without having great talent, but I’d suggest in those instances you’re competing with other mediocre radio stations. Winning in today’s world can be defined as creating unique content that an audience is so highly addicted to that they must keep coming back. It doesn’t matter to the consumer whether that content is on their radio dial, on the internet, TV or mobile app. Today you’re competing against every other content creator and distribution platform there is. For radio to continue to have relevance in the future we need great talent who create addictive content for our brands.

How do you spot talent that has the potential to be great? It’s a question I get asked a lot; and the answers are plentiful; however these characteristics top the list…

They have belief. They have an ego. An ego that compels them to believe unquestionably in themselves. They never doubt their ability to succeed. They have self confidence in abundance. They don’t go looking for an audience, they believe what they have to say is so compelling that an audience will find them.

They are on a mission. They are driven to create content for a purpose. A purpose beyond “wanting to make people laugh.” They have something meaningful to share with the world. They don’t do this for the fame, they do it because they believe what they have to say will make a difference to people.

They are self-aware and share themselves. They intimately understand themselves and how they view and respond to the world around them. They know their passions, their prejudices, their flaws, strengths and vulnerabilities. They embrace there uniqueness and use it to define themselves. Every piece of content they create says something about them.

They are fearless. They have something to say so they say it. Being secure with themselves — their good and their bad traits — means that the judgement of others doesn’t scare them from taking a stance. They share their thoughts with unrivalled honesty. They are candid. They understand that authenticity leads to credibility. They don’t want everyone to like them, they know that never leads to success.

They create content they care about first. They only create content they are truly passionate about sharing. They aren’t interested in faking their views on a subject just because their audience might care. They want to create something that has meaning to them. They have to feel the content. They know to make something compelling they must first connect to it. They are their own source of inspiration.

They are predictably unpredictable. Great talent is both comfortable and surprising to their audience. You have absolute clarity on what you are going to get from the talent — you know them and their perspective — you just don’t know where their next installment will take you. It is this unique mix of familiarity and spontaneity that makes them compelling; “I have to know what they will do/say next.”

Do you notice that these traits aren’t exclusive to radio talent? Great talent isn’t exclusive to traditional broadcast media. The internet is full of blogs that people regularly visit because the author displays these traits. There are YouTube videos being shared because their creators demonstrate these characteristics.

Great talent use these unique characteristics to build tribes of like-minded individuals. It doesn’t matter what platform they choose to distribute their content on. The radio industry has many great talents, but we need to be more willing to find, develop and reward those who demonstrate they have what it takes to stand out. We need to embrace the difference that great talent can bring to our brands. Now, with the rise of technology, it is easier than ever for great talent to share their content so, we – the radio industry – are desperately in need of more courageous leaders willing to take some risks on talent. Next time you spot someone who shows these characteristics, bring them onto your team, nurture them, grow them and reward them. It will be a win-win situation for you both!

Have a question you’d like answered?  Then ask the coach. You can tweet questions to @Airchecker or @mrpkaye using the #AskTheCoach or email in confidence to

Matt Cundill Blog

Matt Cundill Blog: Tales From the Conclave In Minneapolis


Thursday and Friday of last week, many fine broadcasters from across North America, gathered at the 2016 Conclave Learning Conference in Minneapolis to learn. I had my choices of conferences to go to this year and chose the Conclave because it provides incredible access to sit down face-to-face with everyone. Representitives from everyone from Cumulus, iHeartRadio, and Hubbard to Jacobs Media,, Benztown and Neilsen; talent, imaging, social media, operations managers and owners. Those who know me undertand that I love to share and teach; those who really know me know l love to learn.

Lori Lewis, the chair of Conclave 41 said in her opening note: “We all need friends, colleagues and mentors to grow. Success is not a solo process.”

While speaking to Joel Denver of – Art Vuolo started filming us and I thought – “Holy shit! That’s Art Vuolo!” Twenty-five years ago I used to order and share his video tapes of other disc jockeys and loved what I saw. It made me want to do better on the air. I got to thank him and tell him that his videos are a big reason what I am here today.

While on the subject of video; it continues to be an amazing outlet for personalities to showcase their personality. Greg Cypin was showcased in the “Video: Consumption Has Exploded” session, hosted by vocieover and creative genius Drake Donovan. Greg makes video’s to extend his brand:

Another Great Video showcased was by Chris Cruise. Here’s 9 Things Not to Say to a Radio DJ:

Other Highlights from the Conclave 41:

* Sarah Smerz told me about her brand extension with a video blog called “Toilet Talk”. Fun, simple, quirky, highlights her personality and works in any format. (She is the midday personality at WFMB 104.5FM in Springfield, Illinois)

* Great to meet Jennifer Williams, Director of Interactive Marketing at Greater Media in Detroit who mentored many social media and content managers. Jennifer understands how to make interactive work for radio stations. Unfortunately, there were many stations where staff do no have 100 percent buy-in from air talent and/or sales people on the interactive strategy. Stations where one person is doing all the social media activity is actually disfunctional and a recipe for disaster. (Call me – I can can have everyone buying in)

* When Rico Garcia of Results Radio in Northern, California asked: (and I’ll paraphrase) With most stations carrying syndicated and voice tracked programming, what were radio companies doing to grow talent? No solid answer came out but Ginny Morris from Hubbard Broadcasting did acknowledge that “we could all do better in this area.” I regret not getting a few moments with Ginny Morris at the mentor session to ask her about her company’s recent partnership with Podcast One, and also the insight on this station – which is the future – As the need for music radio dwindles.

* I enjoyed getting a few minutes with Mike McVay from Cumulus. Here is an innovative idea he told us about regarding developing talent. His company is using the dead space on their online streams to 3-5 minute talent segments. These could come from podcasts or post-show content or serve as audition space for up and coming talent. ESPN has been repurposing its content in that space for years, but dipping into podcast for this audio is exciting. (Note: American stations cannot run their commercial blocks on their streams because of rights issues; Canada does not have this issue)

* Podcasting remains a curiosity for radio. The session hosted by Perry Michael Simon of and Fred Jacob’s Tech Survey 12  both had many questions and many answers. Quick note for the organizers that I would love to see any session where data is unveiled, scheduled as an earlier session, so it can be referred to in later sessions at the conference. Perry’s All Access column about the conference is here.

* The Imaging Session with Katie Green, Justin Case from Benztown, and John Cruz is one that needs to be repeated next year. The need for imaging is more important than ever to separate your station, not only from other stations, but to solidify it as a brand. (I know that seems rather obvious, but if it is so obvious everyone would be spending more in this area Stop getting all figity… you know I am right)

* Paige Nienaber’s “Marketing with No Budget” rattled off more than 75 ideas in less than an hour.

Finally, a congratulations to Lori Lewis and the Conclave board for putting the shine back on this event. The tireless hours of work did not go unnoticed by your colleagues and as a result – many broadcasters are waking up on a Saturday morning, richer for those who shared their knowledge and mentorship.

Larry Gifford

GIFFORD: Are You Really Done With That Great Radio Talent?

This week a disturbing trend creeped into my consciousness. Radio is losing great talent at an alarming rate. It started with Stern, Leykis and Corolla. Apple is plucking great radio talent from the UK. I talked with three guys that previously worked for me who are out of work and they aren’t even getting nibbles. One of them said, “I’m not sure radio has a use for me anymore.” These are all really talented folks. There are dozens and dozens of these people who are now cranking out great, inventive and creative podcasts to keep sharp and selling insurance or cleaning pools to help make ends meet.

I and others have frequently asked, “Where is the next great radio talent coming from?” But, really we should be asking, “are we really done with that great radio talent?”

Radio needs to find ways to use all these discarded personalities turned podcasters that has either fled radio out of frustration or were pushed out the door. We need guys and gals who love radio, get radio, are good at radio and are ready to reinvent it.

Larry Wachs, sinner

Larry Wachs is one of those guys. For 20-years he hosted the Regular Guys radio show, entertained listeners, and made companies like Clear Channel and Cumulus lots of money. Now he’s like too many other great radio talent: out of work and off the air.

“I think I committed the sin of making too much money for the Cumulus people. They don’t like their talent making money,” Wachs talked about the end of the Regular Guys on Episode 101 of the Radio Stuff Podcast. “I was also burnt out. In all fairness to Cumulus, I did sit down with them a year before and them pretty much gave me the hint that this run was coming to an end.”

For now Wachs is podcasting, redefining his style, honing his craft, and building his storytelling muscles, because he wants back on radio.

“Oh yeah, absolutely. I love it. It’s the best medium. It is so warm and intimate. And when done right it is extremely powerful.”

Great talent is out there just waiting for radio to give them another shot. We’d be shooting ourselves in the foot not to give it to them.


Subscribe to the Larry Gifford Media “Radio Stuff” email and each Tuesday you’ll receive an email with all sorts of stuff about radio. Sign up here.

Larry Gifford Radio Stuff Podcast

Radio Stuff Episode 101: Radio’s Great Talent Exodus

Radio Stuff Episode 101 featuring former Regular Guy Larry WACHS who is now MODcasting the show “House of WACHS.” We talk about radio losing great talent (*sniff* bye Mike Eckford), his career, storytelling, podcasting, and more. I dive into the series of headlines flowing out of ESPN headquarters and speculate some. We finish with a great chat with Compass Media Network’s Michelle Salvatore about sports on radio. LISTEN:

RS 101 cover

Larry Gifford

GIFFORD: Seven Ingredients of Great Radio Talent

The recipe for being a great talent on radio is really a witch’s brew; a pinch of this and a touch of that. Everyone I talk to seems to have a bit of the trade secret to share, but tragically there is no mysterious vault where the “great talent formula” is locked-up. From my experience at least some of it is gut instinct, DNA-related, or luck.

But, we do have the start of a recipe thanks to some heavy-hitters in the radio world who’ve been gracious to give time and insight to the Radio Stuff Podcast. So, here is the start of a winning blueprint for being a great talent.

Steve Goldstein Amplifi
Steve Goldstein

Have something to say.  “Point of view. That tops the list,” says former Saga Communications programming exec and Amplifi Media CEO Steve Goldstein. (audio) “There are a lot of good mechanics out there and they can make a DJ show work, but somebody who has a point of view and something to say that’s where personality comes in.”

Make eye contact with the listener. This is hard to manufacture if it doesn’t come naturally. It’s not actually looking into the eyes of your listener, but as Goldstein explains, “the ability to say, ‘I know who you are and I know what you’re going through.’ It’s tough.” This authentic connection to an audience is paramount to greatness.

Be hungry. The best talent are insatiable. “Everybody should be hungry. If you know what you want to do – do it. Be hungry and just get there,” says iHeartMedia VP of Talent Development Dennis Clark. (audio) He has worked with the likes of Ryan Seacrest, Elvis Duran and Bobby Bones and they all have this in common. “They’re hungry by just performing and doing a quality show and they just love the business of radio. I think a guy like Kane in D.C. or Fred in Chicago they really have a bunch of different places they’ve been to become better and better along the way and really grow their personalities and grow their acts. Same thing with Elvis, he went from Texas and New Orleans to Atlanta, Philadelphia and then finally New York. Ryan too, you know? If he could’ve been hired in any job in radio he would have taken it at the time when he was just starting out at Star in Atlanta.”

2015-03-17 10.31.19
Dennis Clark and Larry Gifford

Be now. We live in a world of rapidly decreasing attention spans. Frankly, I’m surprised you’ve made this far into the blog. Being “now” is a mantra you hear from Clark a lot. “The one thing that is a demanding factor from our listeners in radio is what’s going on right now. What’s happening? What’s the latest? I need a friend right now, I need companionship. Whether its music or a talk show or a personality morning show or it’s a vibe or feeling or something like that – “now” is crucial.”

Social currency. I preach this to my clients. Social currency is a detail, a nuance, an observation, an opinion, a theory or a revelation. It’s radio’s equivalent of a meme. Something you include in your show because it arms your listeners with information that is sharable when they’re at work, play or home. Dennis Clark also talked about this. “Radio gives people such small talk pieces that they can take to their family at home and “oh, I didn’t know that about Taylor Swift” or “I didn’t know that about the New York Yankees.” So, they can hear things from people they relate to and bring it to their conversations.”

David G. Hall, Media Strategist

Create a partnership. Success at a radio station demands you to be on the same page with management. Media strategist David G. Hall believes trouble is inevitable if you don’t. (audio) “More often than not what happens is the leadership of the station doesn’t really know what the target is or they don’t do research. They’re not really sure who they are trying to go for. So, then they have a morning guy who’s not clear who he is trying to talk to and he goes on the air and does something that he thinks is pretty good and then he gets in trouble for it, because it is so far out of whack of the expectations of the manager – who never shared those expectations to begin with.”

So what does a talent do?

Hall explains, “The best thing to do is to ask for the expectation. Be really clear.” Hall suggests you ask the following questions of your program director and it will make a huge difference in how you go on the air and will really focus what you do;

  • What do you expect of me?
  • What is the target audience?
  • Where are we trying to go with this radio station?
  • Who are our competitors on either side?
  • Who am I trying to take listeners from?

Storytelling. This is my addition to the list.  Stories are an effective way to transport an audience and share important information and values. Learn to write and tell stories in short form and long form; from 140 characters to an hour-long production. Stories that are personal and emotionally compelling engage more of the brain and thus are better remembered than simply stating a set of facts. When we experience emotional stories it also produce two chemicals in the brain; Cortisol which focuses the audience’s attention and Oxytocin with makes them more empathic. (Watch a video on it here) It’s science people! If you’re not a great storyteller, practice becoming one.


Subscribe to the Larry Gifford Media “Radio Stuff” email and each Tuesday you’ll receive an email with all sorts of stuff about radio. Sign up here.

Radio Stuff Podcast SoundCloud

Radio Stuff Episode 91

Here’s a link to this week’s Radio Stuff Podcast

This week, I heard a radio spot about a breakfast sandwich that was good, but potentially devastating to the radio station financially. One of the seat-fillers Neil Patrick Harris talked to during the Oscars broadcast is a radio host! Also, I explore where great content comes from and the answer is both living life and being creative; organic and manufactured. I have examples. Check out the Radio Stuff Episodes on SoundCloud or at 

RS 91 cover