(By Randy Lane) Your role as a host or co-host does not stop when the mic’s turned off.
The primary off-air role for hosts and co-hosts is planning the show content, which typically includes:
- Final call on content
- Phones, editing
- Writing for the show, blogs
- Social media
- Digital audio posts
- Show plan
- Book guests
Some of the most creative and talented hosts are not skilled at managing people. It’s a difficult position because you’re part of the on-air team AND you’re the team’s manager.
Dave Ryan, KDWB Minneapolis, one of the most successful show hosts in North America, shares his surprise when he realized that a big part of his job description was managing people.
I wanted to be a deejay. I wanted to sit in a cool studio, play music and be on the radio. I never expected to have to be a manager, but as a morning show host, that’s a big part of what I do. It was a big shock when I realized at age 22 that I had to manage and motivate people.
In my career as a host, I’ve learned two things:
Not everyone will have your passion and energy and work ethic. But if they make a solid contribution, they still can be valuable. Find out what your deal-breakers are: showing up late, not paying attention, bad attitude. Get rid of anyone with those types of issues NOW. Waiting for them to get better will kill your show.
Know the people on your show. You don’t have to be best buddies, but it is important to ask them about their weekend or how their sick dog is. Focus on them and listen.
Managing talented people can be tricky, but it’s worth it. Managing people who aren’t talented or who take too much managing aren’t worth it. Grow a pair and make the change.
5 Action Steps Hosts Can Take to Create a Cohesive Team
- Set Clear Expectations. Passive aggression is a common disorder of show hosts. A well-known host of a show that we coached for years was notorious for not setting clear expectations and then getting upset when team members didn’t deliver to his expectations.
- Share success and failure. Be supportive of the team, even when they fail, so they feel safe trying new ideas.
- Have one-on-ones with each co-host regularly. The priority is to a be a good listener and ask questions. Examples include, “Is there anything you need to be an even better performer?” “How do you want to contribute more to the show?” “What do you want to do that you aren’t doing now?” One size does not fit all. Ask each team member how they like to be managed if you’re not sure.
- Give regular feedback to the team on what they are doing well and what they need to work on. Acknowledge and reward good performance. Praise in public and private; give negative feedback only in private.
- Apply the 24-Hour Rule. If something is bothering someone, they must bring it up within 24 hours. Consistent communication is key to cohesive teams.
For co-hosts, one of the most challenging aspects of their role is clear communication. Whether it involves other members of the cast, the host, or the program director, the following communication actions will enhance your value as a co-host.
- Spend time together off-air. Having meals together, taking a road trip, or attending events improves team chemistry and creates content stories.
- Advocate for yourself. What do you need to perform better? What talents or skills do you have that are not being utilized?
- You’re being asked to do too much. Many co-hosts are overloaded with too many responsibilities. Speak up if you feel your creative contributions are being compromised.
- Feed your creativity. Journaling, brain-parking, and a digital detox will ignite inspiration.
- Is your on-air role clearly defined? One of the first exercises that the Randy Lane Company conducts in our workshops is to clearly define the roles of an ensemble cast. Unclear roles create chaos, confusion, and dissension. Clear role definitions create a cohesive team.