The Importance of Off-Air Communication

We’ve all probably worked with a team show or two that didn’t get along off the air. On the good days they could fake it while the mics were on but the second they were off an awkward silence fell over the room and a palpable tension filled the entire studio. Then the second their shifts ended they parted ways without a word until returning the next day to suffer through another four hours working alongside a coworker who was forced upon them. It’s not pretty and it’s no way to live, let alone create compelling content on a daily basis that appeals to the masses. After coaching on-air talent for the better part of my life, one of the main things I’ve learned is that the more off-air conversations team shows have the better their on-air conversations will be. However, there is a caveat. It only works well if they’re having purposeful and productive off-air conversations. Here are a few quick tips on ways to do that.

All team shows should use a show planner.

I have one I use that I share with the shows I coach that incorporates digital as well. You can download the weekly and daily version for free here. But, each show has to figure out a process that works for them so my show planner may or may not be the right fit. Some shows type everything out, some jot down notes, others use a whiteboard. The main point is to have something written down so everyone involved in the show is on the same page on what content is happening where so they can all prepare for it, effectively tease it and advance that content within the breaks.

Stay hyper-focused on the show during the show.

For the entirety of the hours shows are live on the air everything should be show related and timely. Any correspondence about duties outside of the show should wait until after the show and the same goes for even show-related things that can wait, upcoming promotions or events for instance. To keep that common distraction from affecting shows sometimes I’ve gone as far as putting a sign on the studio door and setting emails to auto-reply kindly letting others know that they would address it after the show.

Be strategic about when to get personal.

Talking about what’s going on in our personal lives off the air is tricky because everything is content (potentially) and so there is a value in it. But, it can easily get away from us. So, generally I suggest talking about that stuff after the show to see if it’s something that can be developed into on-air content. That’s helpful for multiple reasons, it keeps it from being a during the show distraction and it gives us the room to determine what details need to be embellished and exaggerated to make it more entertaining and relatable to the listener.

Don’t reference off-air conversations on-air.

Even though off-air conversations are incredibly important, the listener doesn’t care what we were talking about when the mics weren’t on because they couldn’t hear it. So, there’s no need to mention or reference a prior conversation they weren’t privy to, and eliminating that little unnecessary setup helps our always important economy of words. I know it only shaves off a few seconds but those seconds add up when combined with others and feeling the need to justify why we’re talking about something on air tends to lead to lots of those kinds of unnecessary moments.

Bringing it full circle, shows that find themselves in the awkward silence I described above, or worse yet, spending their time in-between breaks shouting at each other should remember this simple truth. Fighting internally leads to losing externally because we can’t fight the competition when we’re fighting ourselves.

What do you think? How productive is your off-air communication and what tricks have you used to improve it? Comment below or email me at Andy@RadioStationConsultant.com.

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