Proposition for radio airchecks

From a vertical model to a methodology for self-evaluation.

It’s not the first time I write about my approach to radio airchecks. It’s a combination of Design Studio techniques and relatively traditional ways of conducting airchecks. I introduced it in detail in the article “The Quindo Experiment”. My intention today is to deliver it in a more concise way. So, there I go.

Why a new methodology?

Tradicional airchecks and evaluation techniques in radio tend to be vertical. The on-air talent receives feedback from a supervisor or coach who usually is perceived as superior. This doesn’t have to be negative per se but, in some cases, it can frustrate the assimilation of due learning by the on-air talent.

In the vertical model, the feedback and advice given to the on-air talent is often founded on the expertise of the coach or supervisor. Experience means knowledge, but also entails assumptions. We don’t want to give new problems, old solutions.

Goals of my proposition

My proposal for airchecks intends to push (cooperative) self-evaluation. The final objective is to facilitate assimilation and, therefore, speed up improvement.

We want to think out of the box. Assumptions must be removed. The different activities involved, invite to apply explorative thinking.

Environment is key

We need to horizontalize (ending verticality is one of the goals we set) our evaluating activities. In order to do so, all of them will be team exercises. Ideally, we’ll form multiple teams. The structure of the teams should be varied. No hierarchical, or role-based distribution. Every voice will count the same.

We won’t be looking for qualified opinions. Crazy ideas will be welcome, encouraged even. For propitiating that, we will be pursuing quantity over quality. Exploration comes before refinement.

There are some other rules to ensure a safe environment:

  • Every activity will be time-boxed.
  • Pitch-critique: The result of the team work in every activity or game will be presented to the rest of the teams and criticized (with respect).

Exercises and games:

Before the actual aircheck, we’ll conduct a number of games for fine-tuning our minds. As we removed the figure of the supervisor or coach (programme director, on-air controller, consultant, etc.) we have also discarded their strategical input. We need to align our thinking to our business model, target and market context.

Canvas

The Business Model Canvas is a template that helps drafting new business models, or understanding existing ones. It’s a good exercise for aligning our thinking with the positioning of our station in the market. We’ll focus on the top-right cells of the template: Clients, Value Proposition, Channel, Customer Relations (specially the first two). You can learn more about the Business Model Canvas here.

Personae

We will use another template for this exercise, the Persona template. We want our teams to come up with as many personae or listener profiles, in our case, as possible. How does each of these listener profiles think and feel? What do they hear from people around? What do they see in their world? What do they say and do? What are their main pain points and what are the main gains they are after?

Highly recommendable: encourage your people to get out of the station and confirm (or refute) the result of this exercise by talking to the real people behind these personae. Do they think and feel like we said? Ask them when, where, why, how, what for do they “use” us (radio). If (your) radio doesn’t work for them, find out why.

Audition

Audio

Time for the central activity of an aircheck: the audition. It will obviously require an audio showcasing the content we want to evaluate. The duration of the audio will depend on the nature of the content, but it’s important we previously edit it so it’s not too long.

3 positives, 3 negatives

We’ll ask all the participants in the activity, individuals or groups, to write on a paper during the listening three positive and three negative comments about the content we are evaluating. By making the three positives and — specially — the three negatives imperative, we are creating a safe environment for criticism.

Facing fears

Some of our monsters are only in our head. Others are real. We’ll help the person/s auditioned confirm which of their fears are founded, by inviting them to also write down their three positives and negatives BEFORE the listening. At the end of it, they will be able to compare those with the outcome of the group exercise.

Focus

After hearing the feedback from the groups or individuals participating in the audition, we will identify the one positive and one negative comments which were mentioned most times. They will define our next steps. We will document all positive and negative comments that came up during the activity as well.

Air, measure, learn

The resulting positive and negative will act as hypothesis. We’ll try to confirm or refute their impact on the audience. We need to set up indicators for measuring that impact. We can do this through another team activity including pitch and critique.

I — obviously — recommend Voizzup, which evaluates daily relevancy and engagement of every content you put on-air.

Action plan

If a hypothesis is confirmed, the on-air talent (or team) can already design an action plan for improvement in the coming weeks, focusing on this learning. If a hypothesis is refuted we can go back to the feedback given after the audition and find a new hypothesis to test.

Try it by playing!

Does it sound difficult? It’s not. I invite you to give it a try with your team and have fun with it. You can also contact me if you would like me to facilitate the session for your station or show team.

© 2018 - Tommy Ferraz