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10 Tips to Proactive Success

by Michael Packer

President, Packer TalkRadio Consulting

Memo to PDs: With the price tag of stations soaring, sticker shock has set in, and GMs are under intense pressure to bring more to the bottom line to meet the monthly mortgage payments. As a PD, you can help by making sure you do an outstanding job of managing your station's most important assets: the on-air talent.

Value Your Talent

Searching for talent, bringing them on board, training them, positioning a new show, growing their ratings - it's all very time-consuming and a real challenge. Think about that the next time talent is having a tantrum.

Listen

No matter how much self-confidence talent project on-air, they still need to be able to sound off and talk back about their needs and concerns. Listen to them and forward what is necessary to your GM.

Provide Quality Support Staff

Talent quickly can become demoralized if his/her perception is that the support staff is "coasting" and not committed 100 percent to assisting with show prep, booking the best guests, screening for quality calls, helping generate show ideas etc. Weed out those on your support staff who are just "doing time" until they can get to a music station or television.

Give Them Feedback

When you say you enjoyed their show, make sure you can give them a specific reason why. When you need to correct their performance, avoid confrontation. Try the approach of, "We are a team, all shooting for the same goals, and this is how we can reach them together."

Be Careful With Ultimatums

They are a last resort and should be used only after you know you've got 100 percent backing from your GM.

Help Them Think Like PDs

Share programming strategy with your talent. When you are helping them fine-tune their performance, talk to them in terms of how programming works and how these strategies will help them grow their ratings. Often, talent is much more cooperative when they understand "why."

Review Their Ratings With Them

Break out five book trends of their show and review their growth.

Keep Them At Home

Six months in advance of the conclusion of talent's contract, make it a point to take the extra steps to show the talent you care and make them feel that this is the best "home" for their show. Strengthen your personal relationship with the talent months before an agent slips between you and the host.

Protect Your Investment

Have talent who shows great potential? Make sure they have a contract. Don't allow your station to become the farm system for the competition. Get the talent under contract ASAP.

On The Flip Side

If your competition or a nearby metro talker has a potential star, think about ways to establish a relationship, just in case the opportunity arises and you want to pick up the phone and talk turkey. Note: If the talent is under contract, talk to your station's legal advisor about how to avoid "contract tampering."

© 1998 by Michael Packer

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