November 15, 2019

What are the biggest challenges you face with teaching a new generation of jocks about radio, when many of them didn’t grow up using the medium the way you did?

Mark Adams, KYLD: I often find coaching younger or new talent less challenging in many ways because of that dynamic rather in spite of it. Many of the best practices based in precedent and widely practiced today stem from ratings measurement rather than consumer demand, and as (compelling) personality content becomes ever more paramount, new balances are likely going to need to be struck. Encouraging and coaching up authentic personalities has never been more important, and some of the best will likely come from the generation of YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.

Brian Mack, WXXL: Here’s my biggest challenge. Me at age 20 if I was asked to do ANYTHING, “YES! Can I sleep on the lobby couch tonight?!” My young employees when offered time on air, “Hmmm…let me check my schedule.”

Toby Knapp, WASH: You know, I was having lunch with Jack Diamond last week and we talked about this very thing. I think it’s KEY for radio’s NextGen to be schooled on all of the ways to use the studio – from running the board, to how to troubleshoot problems, to how to produce commercials, to how to edit phone calls and more. I can’t believe that we’ve got people who do what we do who can’t run a board, or do an actual show on the air live, in real time, with multiple elements and things happening. I also think it’s important to remember that there’s nothing that can capture the emotion and feeling of being “LIVE” like being live. The tech is great… and when used correctly, it can be just so amazing and magical. The fundamentals and basics… will always be what they are. Learn that foundation and you’ll be able to do anything… as long as you have that personality thing which you can’t teach.

Rob Roberts, Cox Media Group: It’s learning to speak their language. The issue isn’t them, it’s us and our need to make sure they hear and understand the lessons we try to explain. I hate PD’s or anyone who falls into the “kids today” trap. Today’s kids are just like us. When I was 18, I thought my PD was ancient and didn’t understand me or my generation. He was 28. We have to speak their language and listen to their ideas. It will keep us young.

Heather Deluca, WSJO: The biggest challenge, when mentoring interns and part-timers hoping for a future in radio, is that most of them don’t even listen to the radio. And if they do, it’s from exposure by their parents in the car. While they may be fans of music and like the idea of being the one to talk on the air, many have very little knowledge of the medium. So, there’s a lot of educating about the business as it’s grown over the past 20-25 years in the age of automation and music streaming services.

Fish, WKRZ: You have to get back to the basics and teach them that there’s a world outside of the internet and the digital landscape If you really want to connect with your audience you have to be more personal. That’s a big struggle for these kids.

Jon Zellner, iHeartMedia: In some ways, it’s easier because likely, they grew up listening to jocks that were more real and uncontrived and less concerned about hitting the post. And, they’re used to connecting with people digitally and socially and understand that their “brand” goes way beyond what a listener hears over the air.

Max Volume, KOZZ: Pay attention. Think about who you’re talking to. If you’re voice tracking, think about the time of day it will air. What is going on then. Romance the music and the music will romance you.

Java Joel, WAKS: Convincing them there’s still value in the basics.

Todd Shannon, WAPE: I think the challenge is actually the inverse. The kids need to be showing us how they effectively communicate with their peers because they’re communicating so differently than we did 15-20 years ago. We have a really young talent pool and I learn from them constantly. It’s not only communicating on-air, but it’s the way they communicate on social and the way we think we should be communicating on social. They have a different perspective, and to be honest, they’re right. They’re speaking as the brand to our target audience.

Mike “OD” O’Donnell, WKRZ: One of the challenges is to try to teach them the art of teasing to manage occasions of listening to their show, and to be tight and focused every time they open the mic. I think we have a generation that has such short attention spans, they need to be very focused. We have to mentor that into them.

Rick Vaughn, KENZ: Honestly, I try not to teach them too much out the gate. They already come in thinking they need to do all the crutchy DJ crap before they start talking like a human the rest of the break. It’s amazing. You can watch them on their YouTube channel, or Instagram story, and there they are, talking like a human, beginning to end! Put them in front of a microphone in a radio station and suddenly they are every first jock break you’ve ever heard. Be yourself. Be authentic. After that, here is where your short talk breaks are, here are the longer opportunities. Have fun. Don’t lose the license.

Sassy, WKXJ: For some reason they have this idea that you’re going get into radio and get paid six figures right off the bat, and you have to talk them down from that. Secondly, they have to learn how to talk and connect with the audience, and how it’s quite a different from posting a quick picture on Instagram. They’re coming from this quick-hit world of digital social media and they think that’s it. But you have to bring authenticity to radio that you don’t have to bring to Instagram because you have filters. With radio you have to strip that off and the listeners have to be engaged and feel a real connection.

Jammer, WEZB: Why emphasizing those call letters clearly is still so very important… it’s your brand!

Josh Wolff, WAEB: I believe this is actually an advantage, in that we can learn as much from them as they can from us.

Kobe, WWHT: To instill and have them realize how important radio was to my generation and how much of an influence it had on our lives daily.

Jagger, WKSS: A lot of them come in here and they take Communications courses and they kind of sound “newsy” and stiff. I tell them to loosen up, it’s show business, it’s fun. There are certain fundamentals we have to deliver like contesting, etc., but they need to realize it’s personality radio. When you’re on the air doing your show, smile and have a good time with it. If you want to do a topic to get peoples’ attention, have fun with it and run with it..

Michael Right, KXRA: Keeping them from being lazy and “winging it.” These days it’s hard to instill “BE the radio!” in them.

Adam Rivers, WKCI: Getting them to weave together the old personality elements with the new social media elements efficiently.


Jeff Hurley, WLAN: I think the bigger issue is for us. We can’t make them conform to what jocks used to be 10-20 years ago. We don’t want to turn them into a 1990’s flame-throwing jock with the one name everyone uses in every market. We need to adapt radio more toward their generation’s needs and conform more into what they are now.

Justin Chase, Beasley Media Group: I think the young personalities in our business can learn the art of storytelling and branding from the more seasoned radio pros. But the more experienced talent can learn a lot about digital from the young guys. It’s up to us to foster these collaborations.

Dom Theodore, Radio Animal Media Strategies: Actually, the challenges are very similar to a degree. It’s still necessary to teach the basics, and help talent find their own “voice.” Let them experiment a bit by breaking the ‘right’ rules, and sometimes skin their knee while they learn. Today they also need social media and video skills as part of the package. The part that’s much harder is there are fewer examples of true entertainers to point to as examples – NOT to copy, but to inspire. There are so many more “flat” sounding jocks today than what I grew up with. In most markets we are missing those big personalities that used to inspire us because they knew how to maximize the power of the medium. I still believe there are a lot of potential entertainers out there. They just need to be given an opportunity to work with a creative program director who will push them to be more than just barkers for the website and the next chance to win a contest.

Jonathan, Shuford, WRVW: Biggest challenge is teaching the bigger picture. Every decision we make has a reason that goes beyond them as individuals, and not everything results in instant gratification. They’ve grown up in a world where everything they’ve ever wanted is at their fingertips, and it’s a culture shock to learn that radio, or for that matter any industry, just doesn’t work that way.

Matt Johnson, KSLZ: Things do have to change. Whereas, you used to be able to explain things like, “Hey it’s like you’re David Letterman and you’re telling them a joke,” and now it’s more like, “Hey this is like a tweet. You want to keep it to one thought per break. You only have so many characters, which is equivalent to the song intro, and you have to have one coherent clever message that furthers your branding but is also useful to your recipients.” Plus, with you not being able to interact as directly live over the phone (as I did growing up), it’s how do you harness the interaction using social media. Instead of asking, what’s your name and what town are you from, you give the person a direct shout-out with their social media handle. You just have to update to what reality is in 2019 and going forward, relative to the actual usage of the medium.

Next Week’s Question Of The Week:
What’s your top tip regarding time management, and how do you best manage stress issues when they arise professionally and/or personally?
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