Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Air Staff Critique

Sitting down with the air staff one on one with a trusty air check is probably not on the top of most PDs punch list most days. Over the years it's become almost a forgotten PD art. With voice tracking, digital/computer studios, and more and more formatic rules I bet most of the talent on the air has had very few of these meetings in the last few years.

In fact I've run into studios where you can't even run an air check, unless you tape the whole show off air. These are important meetings and you probably should be meeting on on one at least twice a month with everyone.

So where do we start? Just cue up the breaks and hit play?

Really the better meeting comes when the PD has taken a half hour or so and reviewed a show before the talent arrives. Although I usually review a whole station over a number of dayparts one of the tricks I use is recording the station's stream and going back with a generic wave editor and running through a couple of hours of breaks. You can get stream recorders from a bunch of on-line download sites (www.topdownloads.net - Absolute Sound Recorder 3 - is one of many shareware programs you can use).

The keys to look for in most presentations:

  1. Is the talent COMFORTABLE on the air?
  2. Are they talking TO the audience or announcing over them?
  3. Do they know WHO the audience is?
  4. Are they TOPICAL to the target audience?
  5. Are they PREPARED?
  6. Are they EXECUTING the basics - call letters, billboards, liners, and most important interfacing with the music.

The key is picking one of these topics for each session and focusing on just that area.

To get the talent into it - try brainstorming instead of preaching to them. Get them involved in answering these questions and let their ideas and thoughts jump out. If you do you will make a lot more progress with each session.

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