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The Midweek Motivator – The Rule of Connection

When an inexperienced air talent wants to impress his or her listeners, they talk about themselves, their lives and their experiences. When a highly-rated personality wants to connect with you, they talk about you. Having recruited and coached innumerable talent our mantra remains unchanged with the passage of time: “Work from your listener-back”!

When advanced talent wants to connect they put their listeners in the scene. We’ve long used the coaching principle that says, “in order to transcend from jock to habit-forming personality, much of that process requires shedding insecurities”. That’s the underlying reason why only a relatively small segment of Radio talent ascends to highly rated, incumbent personalities.

Its accurate to say the most challenging work we do at ADG comes with the commitment to help our client stations establish strong benchmarks for recruiting and developing men and women who demonstrate obvious performing potential and are then willing to pay the price to climb the ladder, emulating Tom Peters’ “good to great!” Getting music “right” is crucial but attainable.

I remember very early in my talent career struggling to connect with an audience, one listener at a time. But thanks to a commitment to finely granulate what I heard from exceptional talent, it was increasingly obvious that by working from my listeners-back, the more successful I became.

Today, working with our programming clients is highly stimulating; it requires us to fully invest in their growth which includes PD’s and their talent staff; from the newest and sometimes most insecure to the tenured stars who routinely win their day-part.

Ironically, thinking of our clients’ personalities some are unusually reserved; once away from the control room, some might even be described as “quiet types” defying the old misconception that all great “radio connectors” are outgoing extroverts who easily make instant friendships and, were just “born that way.”

After giving a talk last year I was asked “So what are the qualities that help an inexperienced talent become a successful personality?” Challenged by that spontaneous-but-relevant question, I paused for a few seconds and offered, “Well, the best Radio talent I have recruited or acquired through coaching via conference calls or in-station programming visitations, are those who were insatiably looking to climb from “journeyman jock” to longevity personality: most of whom have learned how to make “eye contact” one listener at a time.

Of great concern today is the question of industry-wide commitment: are most companies truly aware of the need to retain and improve talent…or are we so focused on fiscal yield that our formats and their advancement are often subordinated to numerical benchmarks?

Leadership stresses the importance of “financial connection” through Sales strategies and execution. Rightfully so, since Radio is and has always been a for-profit enterprise.

Yet unlike conventional business-customer dynamics, Radio has two sets of customers with little margin for failure in either category. Unless we connect with people on the street and on the air, we fall short. One way or another we are after all, in the “persuasion business”.