Help! I’m Interviewing for a Job…

thetenmostcommoninterviewquestionsI received an email today from a young, rising star in radio who left an unsatisfying radio gig where he was the do-everything-guy for a boorish boss at a directionless station. He’s getting ready to interview for on-air hosting roles and was seeking advice. I was happy to help. Here were my suggestions based on my experiences at both the interviewer and the interviewee.

Be yourself. Don’t try to be who you think they want you to be. Be as authentic and real as you can be while being professional.

Speak clearly. It’s amazing how people, even hosts, tend to clam up and quiet down in an interview. The interviewer is looking for a little showmanship if they’re hiring for an on-air position. Don’t shrivel up.

Tell stories. Have a couple of well thought out stories to share that answer a question you know will be asked. Stories are important for talent to share to exemplify your ability to capture and hold the attention of the interviewer, exemplify your personality and show the certainty you have in your talent.

Role-play. Anytime I go in for an interview for a job I always role-play the interview in advance. I think of all the possible questions I could be asked including some ridiculous ones and I write out my answers.

Some to consider for on-air folk in addition to the 10 listed above:

  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What do you think of the station?
  • What makes your show special/different/successful?
  • How would you describe your show? What makes it unique?
  • How do you work with sales?
  • How do you like to be managed?

Show prep. I would have some concrete ideas on benchmarks or regular segments that you can share.

Dress up. Dress a little nicer for the interview than you expect you’ll need to if you get the gig.

Be curious.  Have at least three questions prepared to ask the interviewer at the end of the meeting.

For example…

  • What’s your time line?
  • How do you define success for this role?
  • What happened to the person who was in this position (if you don’t know)?
  • What’s the mission or vision for this station?
  • What else can I supply to make your decision easier?

Be gracious. Even if you know you’re not qualified for the job, you’re not going to get it or you don’t want it — express your gratitude for the time your interviewer took to meet with you. They could be the link to another job down the line.

Be patient. Waiting is the hardest part. However, it’s important to realize that the hiring manager wants it to happen fast too. EOE regulations, corporate HR requirements and other hurdles exist making it near impossible for hiring people to be a nimble process. A word of thumb — if a station is looking to hire someone “immediately,” the process will likely take 4 to 6 weeks.

4 Principles for Creating Memorable and Impactful Radio Show Content

460)_9410455At RadioDays Europe, Graham Albans was a panelist. He’s the 26-year old assistant producer of the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2. It’s the most listened to radio show in Europe.

He shared his experience, insights and some show prep secrets with the Radio Stuff podcast this week.

Here are four things The Chris Evans Breakfast Show team keeps in our mind as they are making content for the show.

1. What comes out of the speaker, starts with what happens in the office. “We need to decide what kind of experience we want the listeners to have and generate that kind of feeling at the desks. We’re a hyper-positive and fun show and so we’re a good, fun team. We sound like we’re having a good time, because we are having a good time making the show. “

2. It’s not our show, it’s their show. “It’s not about us, it’s about the listeners. Everything needs to reflect the listener. We don’t just tell our stories, we tell the stories of the listeners.”

3. Third thought radio mentality. This is a simple principle to apply whenever you’re coming up with ideas. Here’s how it works; “Your first thought – whatever it is – is likely rubbish and you should throw it out with the trash. Your second thought is starting to get somewhere — you’ve built on the original idea — and this is where most people stop, but you can take it one step further. The third thought is typically more personal, more unique, and you’ll be a million miles away from your first thought.”

4. Make the little things the big things (Make the big things the little things). Instead of talking to the biggest celebs, try interviewing a 5-year old school girl about a spelling quiz she has today. “It’s taking an everyday, ordinary experience and putting it on a pedestal.”

Pandora Doesn’t Hate Radio

As a young, struggling musician, Pandora founder Tim Westergren remembers radio with reverence and awe.

“We were all trying to get on radio. It’s always been the holy grail for artists.”

RS Cover 43Westergren, Pandora’s Chief Strategy Officer, spent a half-hour chatting with Deb Slater and me for the Radio Stuff Podcast this week. It’s clear from the discussion that Westergren’s passion is in the music and for the musicians.

“My dream is that they’ll come a time when literally the day your song gets added to Pandora you can quit your job and get the band together and hit the road. The impact will be instantaneous and massive and global. So, whether you’re blue grass band or a classical pianist — on Pandora we will find your entire audience right away and allow you to pursue your passion as a career. That’s really the grand vision.”

Along the way Westergren will borrow ideas from wherever he can, including radio;

“We’ve learned a lot from radio, I tell you that. For one, the genius of radio was that it as an industry worked to embed itself ubiquitously; every car, every alarm clock, and every stereo – ultimately it became a home for AM/FM and that’s our same ambition.”

Should radio be concerned? Not according to Westergren.

“I think radio will always have a place here. I think there’s a shared playlist people always like to tune in to. There’s a community around that. It’s what I grew up on – the Michael Jackson’s of the world, U2s, and Cold Plays – these cultural tap roots have been created by radio and I think there will always be an appetite for that. I think they’ll live along side each other.”

Currently, Pandora’s app is embedded in over 1/3rd of all cars rolling out of factories this year. And while music is Westergren’s passion, don’t be surprised when Pandora adds news, sports, weather, traffic and shows.

“It’s not hard to imagine you could be playing your Pandora station it can weave in to it your favorite gardening show or news cast or a sporting team or whatnot. That, I think, makes a lot of sense over time.”

And regarding that word, “radio.” Why did he opt to attach it to Pandora?

“It’s funny, because we debated that a long time. What we do is very different. Ultimately, we just decided the “pros” out-weighed the “cons” and that it was the fastest and simplest way to communicate generally what we were to people. The truth is we’re still trying to find the right term.”

He doesn’t think it matters to listeners. Calls the “debate” over what is radio and what isn’t radio irrelevant and frivolous.

His advice for broadcast radio; go back to your local roots, invest in communication with your audience transforming listeners to evangelists, and make interruptions as painless as possible.

Categories: Uncategorized

Secrets of a Successful Rock Morning Show

bjshea

BJ Shea has been in radio for 30 years. The last 15 years he’s been entertaining listeners in Seattle. In 2006, The BJ Shea Morning Experience took over for Howard Stern in the morning on KISW. Unlike, David Lee Roth, Rover, and Carolla – he’s seen ratings and revenue success on the heels of Stern. So much so, Entercom just renewed his show for another multi-year contract.

BJ and LarryI spent the morning with BJ and his crew this week and interviewed them for the Radio Stuff podcast. Here are some of the things I learned:

  • Everyone on the show has a character profile. They’ve gone as far as mapping out the traits on a white board.
  • Everyone on the show — and I counted eight of them — has multiple duties including individual podcasts that support the show brand.
  • They consider the show a performance and they abide by the rules of improv. Always.
  • BJ’s success started when he began to trust his team. The team success started once they were trusted by BJ.
  • BJ and his producer Steve network, go to talk show/morning show boot camps and conventions and can quickly turn the page from performer to strategist.
  • They genuinely like each other. All of them. Everyone is fair game on the air.
  • The “soul” of the show is relationships. Every story they share, every news item that decide to discuss always is framed in the context of relationships (husband/wife, parents/kids, co-workers, girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse/inlaws, etc.)
  • The goal each day is to start the listeners day of with a smile.

As you plan your show, regardless of format, it would worth identifying the show’s characters, people’s responsibilities, studying improv (I blogged about that here), building trust amongst your show unit, networking, identifying the “soul” of your show and having a single mission each day.

Getting Schooled in Radio

MTV has unveiled the Top 10 College Radio Stations of 2013 as part of it’s 2014 Woodie Awards. On March 16, one of these lucky stations will be named college radio station of the year.

RS Cover 41As part of this week’s Radio Stuff podcast we listened to a bit of each station. We heard rambling student hosts making pleas to “mom” for money to buy concert tickets, songs stopped cold that were meant to fade, tongues were twisted, words were mangled, points were missed. But… there was also laughter, joy, excitement, nervousness, and a lot of creativity.

There were good reminders for us all.

Be authentic. It was very easy to hear the difference between the DJs TRYING to be DJs and students who were being themselves. The latter was refreshing.

Play to your audience. I heard a lot of entertainment based stories, in-house spots aimed at student renters, and references to needing to take a test the next day. These students know their audience because they live the life of their audience. Do you?

Enunciate. One poor fellow needed to be a little more clear when discussing the Indiana Hoosiers’ women’s basketball tournament. He meant to say “Big Ten” and likely did, but it sounded like, “Big tit.” Which is a whole different kind of tournament.

Tell Stories. Most of the DJs we heard were front selling and back selling, but one host took the time to research the song and tell us where it was written, why it was written and how the artist feels about it. It was one of those moments where you think to yourself, “huh, I never knew that. Good to know.”

Believe what you say. A lot of the students would write copy and read it. Which I’m not opposed to. Just make sure you read it with conviction. The words are far less important than the message you’re delivering.

Have fun. Laughter was prevalent, though often times it was nerves. Regardless, we need to laugh more, have fun and enjoy what we’re doing.

Six Pointers for Writing Radio Promos and Imaging

Image

Sometimes, I sit in my chair with a full cup of coffee, a cleared desk and a blank Word .doc page staring back at me waiting for station imaging to flow out of me like dirty water from a fire hose.

I sit.

I stare.

I check email.

I refresh Twitter. Just in case.

I end up writing something predictable, pedestrian, and yet somehow entirely acceptable and often times complimented by the radio station. We’ve all done this no?

Writing great production and imaging is hard. First off, “great” is debatable. Does great mean reflective of the brand promise? Does great mean encouraging listeners to take action? Does great mean you were able to fit 43 seconds of sales copy into a 30 second promo? Great is debatable.

Aside from that, it’s also hard because radio folk have come to expect a certain sound and style and anything too far off the ranch is quickly stamped out. (Raise your hand if you or your station is still using Star Wars laser sound effects.)

And it’s hard to capture a moment, an emotion, tell a story that resonates with the listener while selling them something (music, a benchmark, a contest, the news) that they didn’t know they wanted. Over the years my style has changed and evolved, as I assume yours has. Here are six of the most recent pointers I’ve picked up from various sources. Please share yours too..

SIX POINTERS FOR WRITING PROMOS and IMAGING

TIMING:  :60s are dead. :30s are tired. :05s to :20s are where it’s at. The caveat! If you’re doing a :30 or :60 chunk it up in sections so you’re delivering one message or thought every :10 or :15 seconds. So, instead of one :60, think of it as four :15s.

TELL A STORY: People won’t buy what you’re selling until they can see themselves benefiting from it. Create a world for them to imagine.

NEVER SAY “IMAGINE THIS”: While creating that world leave our phrases like “imagine this” and “picture yourself.” Just take them there. Create the world you want them to play in.

Golden CirclePEOPLE DON’T BUY WHAT YOU DO, THEY BUY WHY YOU DO IT: This is from a popular Ted Talk from Simon Sinek. The idea here is don’t sell me 10 songs in a row, sell me the experience of zoning out to some killer tunes for the next half hour while the guy in the cubicle next to me refreshes his email every 30 seconds. I don’t care how many songs in a row you play, I want an uninterupted listening experience to bliss out to because it relaxes me, makes more productive, and makes me happy.

SWEET NOTHING: Being an audio medium, sometimes the most powerful thing you can do in production is nothing. Include silence in your promo. Stop everything for one beat longer than is comfortable.

TREAT WORDS LIKE WEEDS – CUT ‘EM DOWN: I like to write my script out completely and then chop it in half. And then chop it in half again. I look for extraneous words and phrases. Every word counts. Every word reflects the brand. It’s the difference between a “chauffeured limousine” or “a limo to haul you around” or “transportation included” or *delete* you can read about that part on the website.

Building a Championship Radio Team

headphonesRadio Station war stories are like badges of honor. I know a guy who slept on a mattress in the radio station conference room – they called it a studio apartment. Really. I worked for a radio station where the Program Director and consultant came to blows in the hallway. Cops were called, the PD was arrested and fired. If you have worked in radio very long, you’ve likely worked in less than ideal situations; broken chairs, headphones falling apart, all the lights burned out on the console, carpet ripped to shreds, and paint peeling from the wall. We tell ourselves it doesn’t matter, “the only thing that matters is what comes out of the speakers.” But it does matter.

All of these big and little things influence the culture of the radio station. There is a reason BBC Broadcasting House, NPR and ESPN invest so heavily in the space, technology, ascetics, and people they have working for them. It’s because culture matters.

PETE CARROLL LOMBARDI 2It’s how Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, against all odds and all the critics, was able to take a rag-tag group of guys that nobody wanted and make them a Super Bowl championship team.

“I just wanted to see what would happen if you really took care of people, really looked after them. You helped them be the best than can be in whole different way than had been happening in the NFL. As we go through this process we count on a different relationship with our players by respecting them and helping them in every way we can we can ask them to do everything to the hilt; effort, time, off-season, workouts, rehab, everything. People don’t realize these guys have given great effort and given their heart and soul to it.”

What if radio stations behaved this way? Instead of treating employees like interchangeable parts in a machine, what if we treated them like unique, talent individuals? Imagine how different you would feel if your employer respected you and helped you in every way possible. You might even give your heart and soul.

And Carroll means every way possible. The Seahawks have dietitians, psychologists, yoga masters, spiritual leaders, personal trainers, counselors, life coaches, family assistants, travel pros, the greatest amenities an athlete could want and more. Most radio stations have an HR lady and a vending machine.

What happened in Seattle was intentional and Coach Carroll admits it didn’t just happen overnight, “The biggest turn in the philosophy was to make it clear to the players that we are here to support them and make them the best they can possible be. And make it clear to them that we’re going to do whatever it takes to allow them to have all that they deserve. That has come a long way to get to that point.” Carroll adds that the guys like being around, they feel good about it, and they’re trying to be the best they can be to stick with it because it’s a good place to be.

It is a fundamental shift in how you treat people and motivate them to work for you. But I’m here to tell you I’ve seen this work in big and small ways. I’ve been at radio stations that have moved buildings to brand new studios and seen employees’ attitudes and dispositions flip overnight. One day they’re sitting in a chair with a spring popping out of the seat and only three working wheels and the next they’re in a broadcasting palace. That means something. They feel invested in, taken care of, and respected. I’ve also seen the impact of a few new chairs, a couple cans of paint, and frank conversations with what the staff needs to have in order to be successful. It works. It really works.

It’s time for radio to start treating employees in such a way that it is clear that the radio station wants them to have all they deserve and is willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Try it with small things first – like free coffee, an employee lunch, or paint a common wall red — and watch the culture of radio station shift before your eyes.

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