Imagine next week you find out that Rick Dees, Scott Shannon, or (enter your own Radio Deity here) was going to be in town sitting in a hotel room listening to just your station, and your show.
What would you do differently to prepare? How much better would your show’s production value be? How hard would you work on your recycler promo? How awesome would your horizontal and vertical teases be? What would you spend more time on?
It’s an interesting exercise that I hope may inspire some of you. But maybe a more realistic exercise today is:
Imagine you will be let go on December 30th, January 27th, or February 24th.
This realistic exercise may be depressing, but see it as an opportunity.
What can you do between now and then to create the best possible tape and
other “talent portfolio” elements to give yourself the best chance to quickly find re-employment?
It’s more important than ever to continually have fresh tape, and by pulling audio daily, or at minimum weekly, you avoid the awkward “reduction in force” situation of no longer having access to the audio that is on station skimmers. Just like if you keep your house tidy, you never truly worry about a neighbor unexpectedly “dropping by”. Making daily or weekly “aircheck audio pulling” a priority will give you some peace of mind.
If you are on top of your audio, be sure you’re just as tight with sales. Get copies of whatever ratings data and “stories” they are using to sell your show. Find the clients you know that your work/talent positively impacted and increased their sales. Seek out clients for “letters of recommendation,” or even better, audio/flip video describing how you helped their business.
Same thing goes with charities and local community organizations. A solid aircheck is good, but being able to have some sales stories to tell will help “sell you” to that next General Manager. Trying to build these elements into your talent portfolio “as you go” is much easier while employed than after you’ve been riffed.
Behind on aircheck worthy audio?
Commit to making great breaks for the “Ricks or Scotts” of the world. Then, create an extra column on your show run sheet, and fill it in, noting if the break was “good” and “worth pulling” immediately after you execute a break. Post-show, pull the good ones, and then spend a moment or two deciding if your “inner compass” was correct. Was it really “good”? Or were you possibly grading yourself on a curve. It shouldn’t take too long for your “gut instinct = good” to align with what was an “aircheck worthy” moment. Try to get to the point where there’s a lot of “great” to pull!
At the end of every week, see what you have. Be organized. Create categories: Fun v. Funny, Shows Heart, Character Revealing, Compelling/Gripping, Community Involved, Charity, Local, Music Focused, Interviews, etc. I would even encourage sub-categories that denote who/what was the star of the break: (me, my co-host/team member, caller, story in the news). When you make your tape, make the listener the “star” wherever possible. Once you start collecting these “weekly highlights,” start networking with potential “future employers” now and ask for their “expert feedback.”
Remember the Boy Scouts' Motto: "Semper Paratus". Always Prepared. For Greatness and “not so great” ness news.
-by Brian Egan