Coaching air talent is one of the most challenging aspects of being a program director.

Firstly, most PDs have received little coaching on their own air work during their career. There is a frightening amount of “throw ’em in, hope they can swim” as we give people a microphone that connects to a gazillion megawatt transmitter to communicate the Gospel message to the masses.

Secondly, even fewer PDs get any training in how to be a really swell PD. But that’s a Frost Advisory for another time. (See #89 – Other Than the Title What Makes You Think He is the Program Director?)

Someone once said, “if you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”

Okay then, here are some tools:*

Find a break they did well and listen to it with them so that you can discuss with them the specifics of why it was effective. This allows you reinforce the concepts you want them to deliver and validate their ability to actually do them. Golfers know that short putts are easier to make than long putts. Once you address their self doubts they can then be open to learning other techniques and building their confidence.

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said,

“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. Don’t look for the quick, big improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts.”

Next, have them point out the best breaks in their show. Suggest they save those best breaks onto a “Best of” tape which they can listen to every day. This will help change their perspective on how good they can actually be on the air. Once they realize that they can be effective, then a coach simply works on their “batting average” – you might even ask them to note whether a break was a “single”, “double”, “triple”, or “home run.”

“A good golf swing is summed up in a word: repeatability. If you can repeat it, you can play. If what you are repeating is good enough, you can be great. It’s that simple.” Tom Lehman

*This programming tip makes a few dangerous assumptions. First, the talent needs to clearly understand the vision and purpose of the radio station and who your station is designed to reach. Second, the talent must select topics that are first relevant, then interesting. Most do it the other way around. (See #55 – Relevant, Then Interesting).