End of the year, evaluation time
We are just a few hours away from the end of 2015. For many, it’s time to evaluate the year. Radio professionals all around the world will look back and analyse achievements on one hand, and challenges without a satisfactory outcome on the other. We might have the temptation of being too critical. Please, don’t ruin your New Year’s Eve by torturing yourself with negative thinking. Let’s do it in a constructive way!
Are you – morning show host, presenter, on-air DJ, programme director, etc – wondering what you’ve done wrong? Come on please, show some self-esteem! Why don’t you better consider what you are really great at, and where you still have space – and therefore the opportunity – to improve?
In this article I don’t intend to go into detail about evaluation techniques for on-air talents. I would like to insist in an idea that I already expressed briefly in my article “From traditional air-check to cooperative self-evaluation”: Strengths and weaknesses are usually connected, like two sides of the same coin, or the two poles of the same battery. Today I would like to reiterate that idea, using a different approach.
The Light and The Dark Side of The Force
Yeah, I got all freak. You didn’t see that coming, right? Before diving into the concept of The Force in Star Wars, let me put some examples of that connection between strengths and weaknesses that I’ve encountered as on-air controller, morning show director, or programme director in radio.
- I’ve met radio hosts who had the ability to introduce topics in an outstanding natural way, sounding spontaneous, telling stories like they all happened to them. This is a great skill that helps them come through as authentic friends that listeners can relate to. Sometimes it can turn to be too much. A small – or not that small – part of the audience can perceive them like too egocentric. Everything is about them. “I, I, I”, “me, me, me”.
- I’m sure you can think of on-air DJ’s that always sound happy and enthusiastic. They know how to get a shiny smile out of you even in your greyest day. Same story. Like Jamie Oliver, the chef, keeps warning: sugar is dangerous if we eat too much. Someone who is laughing and euphoric all the time, can’t be genuine, right?
- Those DJ’s who know all about every song is played, who have tons of interesting details about the artist’s biography and discography are great, aren’t they? Certainly, unless they sound like a spoken version of AllMusic.com. And believe me, they easily tend to do that.
I think these three examples should be enough. I’m starting to feel cruel – in an enjoyable way, I must confess -. In these three cases we are not talking about skills versus deficiencies. We are talking about specific aptitudes that depending on how they are used can turn either into powerful tools or annoying habits. It’s all about self control, about balance. And that’s it! Exactly like The Force in Star Wars.
“In the original Star Wars film, the Force is first described by Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi as an energy field created by all living things, that surrounds and penetrates living beings and binds the galaxy together. Throughout the series, characters exhibit various powers that rely on the Force, such as telekinesis and shooting lightning from their fingers. The Force has a negative and evil aspect called the “Dark Side”, which feeds off emotions such as anger, passion, greed, pride, jealousy, fear, lust, and hate, but the Jedi are only supposed to use the Force for peaceful purposes.” Wikipedia
The Chosen One will bring balance to The Force
I’m sure you remember the famous prophecy in Star Wars: the Chosen One is a Jedi who will bring balance to The Force. I hope I’m not spoiling anything (come on! it was revealed decades ago) if I say the Chosen One was Anakin Skywalker who later became Darth Vader. Let’s avoid the discussion about whether Anakin did actually brought balance to the Force or not.
Sticking to our subject: Anakin was a passionated husband, a loving friend, a pupil hungry for knowledge, a warrior that never surrenders and fights for victory at all costs. He couldn’t accept loosing his beloved wife. He felt betrayed and left aside by his friend and master. He believed democracy wasn’t efficient. He became Darth Vader. Strength turned into evil, driven by fear, anger, ambition and revenge.
If you are a radio (or TV) talent, you are the Jedi. Are you the programme director or the on-air controller? Jedi Master is your role then! In both cases, the Force is strong in you. (I don’t think a blood extraction will be necessary, let’s forget about midi-chlorians and asume that’s true, you do what you do for a living!)
As a radio talent – oops sorry, as a Jedi! – you have a powerful set of skills and strengths. You can use them for your benefit, and most important, your listeners’. But remember that your Force has a Dark Side. It’s crucial that you realise that your strengths and weaknesses are connected parts of the same reality, which shape your personality. You cannot reject your own nature. But you can learn to balance it, to take control of it. The better you know yourself, the better you can use your strengths for good.
For some bosses in radio or media – actually, in any sector – it might be a good idea watching or re-watching Star Wars. Feelings, attitude and motivation are too often underestimated. Strengths are enhanced by self-confidence, courage, empathy, humbleness. Weaknesses are intensified by fear, insecurity, hesitation, arrogance, selfishness. You only need a negative – but very human – emotion to turn a brilliant Jedi into an annoying Sith.
Work on the balance everyday, and improvement will be constant.
My name is Tommy Ferraz. I’m a former DJ, on-air controller, morning show director and programme director in radio. Thanks for reading, happy 2016 and… may the Force be with you!