Why young DJ’s are prisoners of small market radio stations

Young woman is just one of many frustrated radio DJs in Canada

Steve Kowch coaches DJs From where I sit On The Kowch, too many young radio announcers are stuck in small radio markets because no one is coaching them, helping them to become better broadcasters. Over worked program directors (many hosting their own three to four hour shows) only have time to aircheck the morning and afternoon drive show hosts. Any announcer hosting a show outside of the 6a-10a and 4p-7p Monday to Friday time slots are pretty much left on their own. You only need to listen to their show demos to understand how lack of coaching through airchecks makes them prisoners in small market radio stations. Lack of feedback rob young broadcasters of chasing their dream to be hired by radio stations in a larger market. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Paul Kaye works with DJs

Paul Kaye, National Talent Development Director, Newcap Radio

Meet Paul Kaye. He understand the importance of radio airchecks. He has written a series of articles for the influential online AllAccess.com, the web’s largest radio and music industry community  to offer some insight into effective airchecks.

“The aim of Airchecks Exposed is to shine a light on what talent really want from their coaches and how we can build an action plan to make the time spent with talent more meaningful,” says Kaye, the National Talent Development Director at Newcap Radio that owns 95 radio stations across Canada.

Unfortunately, what he doesn’t talk about in his series of postings is the impact on the younger talent in small markets, hired straight out of broadcasting schools – who aren’t getting the feedback they need to become better broadcasters. This is resulting in a new generation of frustrated broadcasters who eventually abandon their dream and leave radio. This is not good news for an industry that needs these young talented individuals to attract younger listeners to the AM/FM radio dial.

I know the problems Paul is dealing with overworked program directors. I was the National Director of NewsTalk Radio Programming for Astral Media. To his credit, he doesn’t shy away from the problem and is quite honest when he writes:

“Sadly, we hear from talent that managers don’t devote enough time to talent. Airchecks are the first thing that get moved or cancelled in the ever demanding schedule of a PD. Worse, when PD’s do spend time with talent, it’s often not as effective as it should or could be. Working with talent can be daunting and overwhelming for programmers, and it can be intimidating and deflating for talent. It’s not uncommon for talent to fear airchecking and for programmers to just avoid it,” says Kaye.

If you’re not being airchecked, find out how kowchmedia can help broadcasters sound great on air. Click here for details.

What I like about his series of articles is that Paul Kaye gets it. He understands talent, their insecurities, their egos and how at the end of the day, it’s the talent that makes a radio station stand out in the market.

Working with talent could be the single most important part of a programmer’s job

“In a world where our competitors can duplicate our music, counter-program our stop sets, defend against our marketing claims and more, talent remains one of the few areas that gives our stations a unique point of difference. What separates a good station from a great station nowadays is what goes between the songs; the experience surrounding the music really counts. Great talent enhances locality, creates bonds, captures imaginations, provokes emotions and supplies the much needed heartbeat to our brand,” Kaye says.

In a previous On the Kowch Blog, we discussed the importance of giving music DJ’S time to talk between songs. Studies show that radio listeners want to hear more from announcers between songs. The trick is to make sure the DJ’s have something interesting to say when the music stops. That is where the airchecks are important. It will help focus radio talent to become story tellers. The better hosts become at story telling, the greater the chance station management will allow hosts more time to talk between songs.

From where I sit On The Kowch, Kaye does a great job in his  Airchecks Exposed series to highlight what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to airchecking on air talent. He has a panel of hosts and program directors who describe their experience of good and bad airchecks.  If you’re in radio this series is a must read.

Click here for Part One of the series.

Click here for Part Two of the series

Steve Kowch ran two of Canada’s largest newstalk radio stations in Montreal and Toronto for more than 14 years. He was National Director of NewsTalk Radio Programming for Astral Media. He was a professor at two of Toronto’s leading broadcast schools and is the author of  99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Making It BIG In Media 

Contact Steve at 647-521-6397 or email steve@kowchmedia.com