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Ace McKay
Ace Books Consulting

The Magic Of Coaching




We can probably all at some point name one or more persons that'd actually invested into our life. Could be a parent, pastor, a teacher or even someone that we grew up with? For me it was Bill “The Birdman” Thomas that still to this day motivates me to be great in not just radio but in life. I believe as it pertains to radio there are those people that have helped get us to where we are right now and paying it forward from staff to interns shapes radio for the better.

 The great thing about great radio is that great people begat more great people. If you are a great program director it's probably because you worked for great program directors. When it pertains to air talent you're probably a great air talent because someone somewhere or more than 1 persons took the time to invest into your show. If you haven't had anyone invest into your show ever or in a while you're probably a pretty frustrated air talent.

 This is probably one of the things that are brushed off into the garbage can when program directors can't find the time to invest into their talent. With staff consolidation and so many air talents be networked from some other location, it's really difficult to see talents grow. Honestly, if you want your station to be the best in your market you need to make talent coaching a top priority especially if you are not gonna to hire a talent coach. It doesn't take a lot of time but has great reward. I’d love to hire a staff of people with 20% talent and 80% teachable spirit. I can work with that vs. the other way around. PD’s know what they want from their station and how they want it to sound so why wouldn’t you want your air talent to be able to accomplish more on their show when you can help them get there.

If you want to get involved with your talent, there are a couple a key areas that you can do that will make a huge difference in not only their abilities but their confidence level.

1. Find 2 things to say positive that they're doing well
 In some cases, you may have to dig to find a few good things but it'll be very easy to find something for those you work with regularly. The positive reinforcement in showing what your air talent is doing well will help them to know what is the to strive for with each break. The content, making it today and not generic or even revealing a little piece of themselves to the listener makes for compelling radio and keeps your show from being obsolete.

2. Find 2 things they need to work on each week
 Even if there are more than 2 things, and in most cases there are, you can't as an air talent functional or process all these changes. You can only focus on what are 2 things per week. If you overwhelm your talent its harder for them to get better. They have to believe in themselves and have to respect you as a programmer so the importance of your reinforcement is like that of the parent to child; Explaining why you do or don't do something on the air helps them to create a filter that will make their show very real and relatable to the listener. All you’re investing in the air talent when they make a mistake that’s gonna make them leave in time because they aren’t growing. It helps to set people up to succeed in order for the whole station to thrive.

Side note for all programmers: You have to make sure that the talent you have no matter what time slot they are in now is that were there best suited because if you hire someone for mornings and they really are more cut out to do a solo afternoon show you wanna put them there so that they can succeed and be the best for your team. It doesn't mean there a bad air talent or could never do mornings, it just means that they're not cut out for that particular spot on the air at this time and helping them see that now will keep them from growing frustrated with you or their talent coach.

Air Personalities battle their own inner voice of how good or bad the show was today so PD’s and talent coaches help to stand far enough back from the painting to see the whole canvas, not just the individual colors.

If you aren’t capable of doing this for your air talent, find a way to feed them is key if you want your station to stand out in your market.

The Jeff Collin’s “Good to Great” concept is really what you're striving for. In this book he describes that you want the best people in the right seats on the bus in order to win as a team. However, going around from seat to seat and making sure that all of your teammates have what they need to be their best at what they do is how you’re going to win.


 Ace McKay is a Consultant and Talent Coach for Ace Books Consulting. He can be reached at