Radio jocks (sorry! Radio presenters) are interesting people and I don’t mean only when they are on the air. I would suggest that ‘interesting’ is an essential requirement when they are behind the mic. If they are not then you might just have a problem or three. Let me explain, good radio jocks tend to be egotistical, self-absorbed, confident, opinionated, arrogant, clever and… talented!

A good programmer must be able to recognise that talent when he hears it and the best way to find good presenters is to listen to other radio stations, advertise within the industry, and listen to recommendations from other programmers and so on. Most importantly you must know that your ability to recognise talent is just the starting point in the whole process. It is developing that talent that is vital to your stations success. I never like to assume things but for the purposes of this article I am going to assume that you have a fully functional presentation team and they all have talent in varying degrees. The question is how do you move them forward from where they are now? How do you get them to progress from where they are now? How do you make them better than they are now?

Never Finished

I have spent many years working out how to get the best out of presentation teams and realise now that any process that achieves this is an ongoing one. There is no hard and fast rule how to make your team perform better but there are certain things you must establish in your own mind and one of them is that it is a job that is never, ever finished.

Presenters, like any other employee should have a path of personal growth and development within the station. That’s your job as Station Manager. Presenters need to be moved forward, they need to learn new skills and they need to get better at what they do. You should know, as a manager that if they get better at what they do, if they learn new skills, then your station performance is likely to improve too and that can only be a good thing for you and your presenters. It‘s the proverbial Win/Win situation.

Regular Meetings

I suggest a well defined coaching process that is based on mutually agreed objectives is the way forward. It’s a fairly simple process in the form of a one-to-one meeting with each presenter on your station. In that meeting you both listen back to an hour of a recent show, identify three or four things that were done well and three things that were not so good. You then get agreement from your presenter on these points and set three agreed objectives to be achieved by the time you have your next meeting.

You should continue the process weekly setting new objectives every time. Of course, you as Station Manager have full control over these objectives and make certain that they are in line with your own objectives for the overall station output. It is also good to be clear with your presenters and explain fully what you are trying to achieve, not just for them individually but for the station. In smaller stations there are lots of volunteer presenters and that means lots of meetings. Probably impossible to carry them all out weekly. So I suggest you carry out weekly meetings with your daytime team and schedule monthly or bi-monthly meeting with other presenters. You may have a senior presenter who could carry out some coaching on your behalf. This would be a good way of developing a senior presenter who may wish to become a good Programme Manager in the future.

Opportunities

There are other benefits of having such a system in place too. You, as manager, have the ability to know, understand and agree all aspects of each show and have input on how you wish individual shows to sound before its broadcast. It is also an opportunity to discuss and resolve any issues the presenter may have while doing his job and provides both of you with the chance to discuss new opportunities and develop show ideas.

That’s what I mean by building a product. I am not certain that managers in smaller radio stations have such a process in place, nor do they realise that such a process is vital to the overall success of the station. I am aware of the fact that running a small radio station is a difficult job. But managers spending most of their time dealing with other issues while the product they produce and the team that produces it gets no attention at all. This is simply not on and is a big mistake.

I have said it before and I will say it again. What comes out of those speakers is your product. That is why you exist! The quality of that product determines your success!

You need to make sure your product is right and you need to be certain it is right all the time. Ignore it at your peril.

Manage or Fail

There is another issue that I come across all the time that needs to be said. It seems to me that radio station managers are too protective of their stations. That is a good thing but I notice that this form of protection is killing the product. There seems to be a fear (unfounded, in my view) that if you delegate any of the major functions of your station to another you are losing control of it.

No, you are not losing control, you areactually gaining control. The role of station manager is simply that… You need to manage and to do so you must delegate. If you feel you can ‘do everything’ you are wrong… Unless you have godlike attributes.

If you continue to do so then expect failure. Not because you didn’t try but because you didn’t delegate. As a trial, I suggest you delegate the process of coaching your part time presenters to your most senior presenter on the station. Get him to set up the process, run it and provide monthly reports to you on how all part time presenters are developing under his guidance.

Your managerial position means you should use the skills of others to get what you want. If you appoint someone to help you to build a good product and they succeed, they do so only because you made that decision. If you appoint a salesperson and they bring in loads of money, they do so only because you made that decision.

Delegate

Be honest with yourself and put your trust in people who can do some jobs better than you and give them credit when they succeed. Your success comes when your station becomes successful because of the decisions you’ve made and that credit for that lies solely … with you!