Why Aircheck Sessions Suck & How To Make Them Suck Less

How often have you spent an entire aircheck session plotting an emergency escape? Most aircheck sessions suck for both the PD and talent. Everyone hates meetings, especially creative people, and aircheck meetings are often the worst, but those meetings don’t have to be like a trip to the dentist.

The good news is these meetings can be fixed. Do it right, and they can be meetings everyone looks forward to. But first, it helps to know why air check sessions suck. That’s half the battle.

Why Aircheck Sessions Suck

There are six reasons aircheck sessions suck. You can fix all of them!

Repetition: Most aircheck meetings are monotonous because every meeting is like the last. And the one before that. The PD listens to segment after segment, analyzing or critiquing performance in excruciating detail. Soon, they become a broken record of redundant feedback:

Keep it shorter. Sell the call letters. Start each break with the positioning statement. Promote the music. Pick up the energy. Stop talking so fast. Talk faster.

Talent soon becomes numb to the redundant message.

Playing Audio: Aircheck meetings suck because talent hates to hear themselves. They only hear mistakes, and they spend most of the meeting cringing. Listening to audio together is important, but you don’t have to listen to every segment. Aircheck sessions should be designed to point out positives, growth, and improvement toward a defined goal. Spend most of the session listening for one great example of positive growth and analyze what made the segments successful. If something needs to be corrected, focus on how

Scheduling: Meetings usually happen after a morning show ends, when personalities want to wrap things up and escape for the day. This is the worst time to do it. The PD is fresh with new ideas and energy but the show’s already put in a full day of work. The timing may be convenient for a programmer, but air personalities are fried. And if the meeting is a beatdown of things that went wrong, maybe meeting for drinks in the afternoon or an early dinner would be more productive.

Poor Preparation: Effective meetings require preparation. PDs should prepare as thoroughly as they expect talent to plan their show. Starting a meeting with, “Well, what do you want to talk about?” is lazy. That means coaches must listen to the show, organize thoughts, and have an agenda. Set the topics in advance so they can prepare to participate. Then, stick to that agenda. Don’t let it drift into other topics. If something comes up, schedule it for a future meeting. Yeah, it’s hard, and you’re busy. But that’s part of the responsibility of having a personality-oriented radio show.

Length: Some managers feel meetings should last an hour. That’s not productive; it’s punishment. Some meetings can be as short as five minutes. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich advocates 5-minute coaching sessions. He says:

With us, film is short and direct. It’s very specific on certain items. You can’t do a coaching clinic every time you do a film session or you lose them all. But if something is directed, like pick-and-roll defense, transition defense or how the ball was shared or not shared and you get after it and do it. It makes sense to most players. That’s our way.

Set an expectation for length and stick to the clock. Then, wrap up on time. Nothing is more demoralizing than a 15-minute meeting that lasts 45 minutes. Everyone will dread the next meeting.

Focus: Meetings often lack focus. The conversation is too broad, or there are too many topics. Too many thoughts in a break is a problem for a radio show, and the same happens in aircheck sessions. Try to focus attention on improving in a couple of areas. That leads to sustained growth.


Following these six guidelines won’t guarantee your meetings don’t suck, but it is a good start!  Try to spend time with personalities daily, but avoid meetings that sap their energy (and will to live).

It takes time and effort to get air check sessions right, but the reward is a much more enjoyable experience, more productive talent, and a great-sounding radio station.

Pic designed by YuriArcursPeopleimages for Envato Elements.

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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