Virtual Aircheck Is a Virtual Mystery

 At first blush, this may look like a post that is of interest only to radio people. In reality, though it caught my attention as a ‘radio guy’, it highlights lessons that can be learned by any business on the web.

Because of my love of radio, especially as it could be, and through my active participation with The Conclave, I’m always looking out for new resources that can lead to improving content and the talent that produces it. Hence my interest in checking out a new service called

For those not caught up in the broadcast vernacular the “aircheck” is simply a sample of on-air work like a DJ’s show or an on-air program of some kind. The practice of “airchecking” usually refers to a talent sitting down with their boss or talent coach and reviewing the recorded sample looking for ways to improve the content moving forward. I’m sorry to say, this is something that happens less and less frequently as Program Directors become responsible for an ever increasing list of duties they can no longer delegate…because those to delegate to are being “downsized”.

Anyway, offers a service for talent to upload their 7 minute aircheck to the site. It is then reviewed by “a panel of PD’s with over 70 years of combined experience.” and a complete report is then sent back to the talent with comments and coaching tips. This is all done for the low, low price of $24.95…and up. On the face of it, this is a very solid idea.

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It’s Thursday, Must Be Radio: Avoiding the “Jockless” Itch

So as I trekked across the middle of the country on what I
call the “Midwest Swing” (MN, IA, MO, KS, NE) for the holidays, we passed
through Omaha. I
had been alerted by my friend and former mid-day announcer, Shari Stone, that the
Adult Contemporary station we had signed on some 5 years back, Literock 101.9,
KLTQ, had just changed format. Back then the station debuted big, dispatching
the long-time market leading AC to its own format change a few years later. Lite
(as it had become known) had suffered ratings declines in recent years due to
many reasons, not the least of which was a lack of commitment to marketing.


When I tuned in 101.9 on this trip to listen to the new
station, 101-9, the Big “O”, I can tell you I couldn’t help feeling a bit sad. I
had built Literock, my first AC, from the ground up and had a chance to work with
some great people doing it. What has replaced it is another “hybrid” Rock/AC (think
Ben, Jack, etc.) with a pop rock lean…ho-hum.

Whether this station will be successful is not the issue
here. What is the issue and what really grinds my gears, chaps
my hide, (insert cliché here), is that it is running “jockless”. This is the
tactic that  many “new” formats use to, as us programmers like to say, “establish
a music position.” Play nothing but music for months (in this case, I’ve been
told 3-6 of ‘em) then…maybe…add personalities. Of course, it’s also a hell of
lot cheaper to not pay personalities.


Okay, gang it’s time to stop this. The days of building a
lasting radio station on the foundation of being a jukebox are, or should, be
behind us. In the case of the Big “O”, or hybrids like it, which is playing
music that can be found in many places on the dial in Omaha, there is no music position. (Please,
for the love of God, don’t use the word “variety”.)


For years everyone from PD’s, and consultants to owners, VP’s
and researchers have been saying that compelling content and local appeal is
what will keep radio relevant. It’s time to listen. Further, if you want to
reach anyone under the age of 30 for longer than a month, non-stop music is not
nearly compelling enough, period.

If the plan is to introduce “jocks” after that 3-6 months,
good luck. You’ve just spent the last 90 to 180 days building the expectation in
the audience, one I contest is continually shrinking, that you are all music. Imagine
how thrilled they will be when all of sudden there are people talking…no matter
how much.

It’s time to start launching new formats (emphasis on new) with
a full staff intact. The benefits far outweigh the negatives. Just think; right
out of the gate, real people to be fans of the station, talk about the great music,
entertain, meet and talk to the audience. Yep, living breathing humans to build
relationships with the audience, and serve the clients (and earn their money). Most
importantly, real personalities will build the audience’s expectations that the
station is relevant and will be part of their lives for years to come…right from
the start! It will cost a few shekels more but will pay off in the
long run.

Oh yeah, radio should think in terms of the “long run” more.

Monetizing radio….with commercials.

I found myself in a discussion the other day about radio advertising. In fact, as much time as I’ve spent talking about
monetizing new media, there is still plenty of opportunity to reach consumers,
a lot of them, with great radio…including the commercials.

In my recent discussion I found myself revisiting a lot of the same topics I have addressed
to my staffs of every station or company at which I’ve worked as a broadcaster.
In fact, the following comes directly from memos to those staffs.

Please note: This doesn’t have to be just
for my radio buddies. It can be applied to any commercial production whether it
is new or traditional media.

Radio must make every minute of an hour great. That includes the minutes in commercials.
Don’t think of it as sales gets 12 minutes of commercials and programming gets
48 minutes of music. Consider it as the listener gets a full hour. It
might be worth considering that the reason listeners tune out during
commercials is that they have been trained to do so because, frankly, the spots
are just plain bad.

What will keep listeners listening? Great radio. That means entertaining and informative
content…during music and commercials. For those that sell commercial advertising, the great thing about producing great commercials is the less talked about benefit of getting results for the clients. That means they come back and spend more money. This is a good thing.

Here are some things to remember:

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