Monday, November 10, 2008

Aircheck Sessions and Potty Training

Okay, bear with me for a minute. I realize that the title of this article, “Aircheck Sessions and Potty Training,” could be a little off-putting. But I assure you I’m not going to just sit here and make a bunch of jokes about how aircheck sessions and potty training are alike because they both involve crybabies and putting up with a lot of crap...although that does sound kind of fun.

What got me thinking about this connection is the fact that my wife and I are in the throes of potty-training our three-year-old son. He’s a truly great kid, but he has a five-month-old baby brother in the house and he’s probably still adjusting to not being the only child, as well as also dealing with his feelings of jealousy. That’s meant that we’ve seen not only lots of successes, but also a little bit of regression, not unlike managing an airstaff of talented but sometimes very different – and occasionally jealous – personalities.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, you have to find the right time for potty training and then you have to set your child up for success, starting by maintaining a sense of humor and a positive attitude. They also suggest that you consider incentives, be consistent and treat mistakes lightly. Is this starting to sound familiar?

Reading their website, I laughed as I started to realize just how many of their ideas could be applied to radio. Picture your airstaff and the jocks you’ve worked with through the years. You’ve probably got a big spectrum represented there, from seasoned professionals to shaky rookies. You try to help them grow as personalities, respecting their differences, while at the same time making sure you’re guiding your station(s) down the right path.

I’ve found that most jocks, especially when they feel like they’re in a supportive environment, will not only welcome your ideas, but they’ll actually be harder on themselves than you would be on them. That puts you in the unique position of turning what used to be seen by some as a negative – the dreaded aircheck session – into a positive. That’s not to say that every jock will suddenly come skipping into (and out of) their aircheck sessions, but when they know that it’s a supportive environment, they’re a lot more apt to see the sessions as opportunities for growth, rather than beating sessions to be approached with dread.

The person who has to set that tone is you. Be positive. Be consistent. Don’t just find areas that need improvement and hammer those points home. Look for moments of greatness and celebrate them. And when your jocks try something and end up falling short, support their efforts and talk about how they can succeed the next time. Explain what your goals are and how you intend to accomplish them. Let your jocks know what is expected of them.

Accidents will happen, both on and off the air, but if you and your staff (and your kids) are in the right frame of mind, you’ll find yourselves having more and more successes and fewer and fewer accidents.