Be Proactive To Get Feedback

A common complaint from radio personalities is desiring more feedback than they receive from managers and program directors. It’s true! Most programmers believe talents hate aircheck meetings but they only hate negative sessions. But as budget reductions consolidate duties, overworked PDs often don’t make time to listen to, let alone critique, personalities. How bad is it? Some personalities claim it has been years since their boss has worked with them. If that’s happened to you, it’s time to be proactive to get feedback. And if you’re a PD, this would be a good time to make coaching a priority.

A Jacobs Media study showed that nearly 40% of air personalities surveyed say their on-air work is never reviewed by station management. Another 19% say they are air-checked once or twice a year. That’s just not sufficient. Everyone needs coaching. In the absence of regular feedback, personalities regress or, at best, start demonstrating bad habits.

But it’s hard for air personalities to ask for attention from management, especially when the programmer is busy with multiple stations.

There’s an old saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. So start squeaking, even when it’s awkward. Don’t just “do your own thing.”

Programmers don’t invest time in working with talent because coaching talent is difficult. Preparing takes time, and they usually feel as anxious before discussing performance as the talent when going into an aircheck session. Personalities that are proactive about getting feedback can make it easier and set a tone for a positive experience.

Get More Feedback

Here are some ways to make this work:

Pick Your Moment: Choose the right time to approach the PD. Take them to coffee or lunch to discuss the station and the show. During the conversation, ask about your performance and let them know you would appreciate regular feedback. The PD will appreciate this and likely start offering suggestions immediately. Ask them to hold off for the time being and schedule a meeting to discuss specific areas of improvement.

Ask For Help: Make it clear that the goal is to solve a problem, not become one. Show the PD that you want to improve his/her radio station. Put the PD in a position of helping you achieve a goal that makes them successful. This takes the edge off of a situation by shifting the dynamic from “Tell me what I’m doing wrong” to “Help me figure out how to do it better.” Plus, the PD won’t think you’re accusing them of being lazy for not spending more time with you.

Set An Agenda: Once an opportunity for growth (or two) is identified, schedule a meeting at a specific time and place to objectively analyze performance and establish goals for improvement. This makes it easier for the PD, establishes expectations, and increases the chance of a productive meeting with action points.

Prepare For The Meeting

Send Audio In Advance: At least two days in advance, send 3-5 segments that represent the issue(s) to the PD. Don’t cherry-pick just the best breaks. This isn’t about trying to get a pat on the head. The goal is to improve, not be praised (though that would also be nice).

Create an Action Plan: Each meeting should produce concrete plans as the next steps. What specific things can be done to improve on the shared goal? Hopefully, the PD will follow up with a written action plan. If not, do it yourself and send the plan to the PD.

Follow-up: Don’t sit back and wait for the PD to reply. It may happen, but remember, she’s busy, too. Send audio of a segment or two that shows progress and ask for feedback to make sure you’re on the right path.


Personalities shouldn’t have to ask for input or wait for a critique, but it may be necessary if coaching isn’t a priority at your company or if it has slipped off the radar because of the demands of keeping a group of stations on the air.

These steps should work, but if the PD, manager, or company doesn’t make the time or lacks the expertise to help your show advance, don’t accept it as “the way things are.” Be even more proactive to get feedback by connecting with colleagues, mentors, talent coaches, and other experts to help you out. Networking with respected pros can be a great way to grow and may even lead to opportunities in the future.

Pic designed by Freepik.

Tracy Johnson is a talent coach and programming consultant. He’s the President/CEO of Tracy Johnson Media Group. His book Morning Radio has been described as The Bible of Personality Radio and has been used by personalities worldwide.

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