QUESTION FOR DAN O’DAY:
I am a 20 year old overnight jock. I love radio and I want to make it my career after college. I want to be the best I can. So, I was wondering if there is a good service out there that I could pay to do aircheck sessions with me. I do them now with my PD, but I want to learn as much as possible. Who do you suggest?
I don’t know of a good service to aircheck your work. There are jocks out there who would be glad to take your money in exchange for a critique, but it’s doubtful you’d get your money’s worth.
The Catch-22 of the situation is this: The people who really are successful enough and knowledgeable enough help you with a critique can’t charge you a fee that would be both worth their time and affordable for you. The ones who will gladly critique your show for $25 or $50 either:
A) Have discovered how to fit 40 hours into a 24-hour day
B) Earn so little from their own radio skills that that $25 fee is a major motivator to them.
In my own case, years ago I used to offer aircheck critiques for $100...and at the time I even publicized that fact. Soon I realized, however, that to do a good aircheck critique takes me two hours...and I just didn’t have those two-hour chunks of time to spare a several times a week. So I raised my fee to $125...and stopped publicizing the fact that I do them at all. Now the only time I do critiques is when someone wants to pay that premium rate (stations pay more, by the way) and when they approach me in the first place.
This way, I spend much less time doing critiques. But if someone says, "Hey, I respect your opinion so much that I’m willing to pay you considerably more than the other ‘critique services’ I’ve heard about," I’m flattered enough to accept the assignment.
Something you could do that would be most cost-effective and valuable in the long run is to listen to as much radio as possible...both within your market and internationally, via the several inexpensive aircheck services. Listen to as many jocks as you can find and note which of them breaks through the clutter to command your attention...and note how they manage to do that.
If there are some jocks you admire in other markets, you could try sending a cassette along with a brief note and a self-addressed, stamped return mailer. In the note, explain who you are and why you are writing to that particular jock (you’re a big fan, you listen to his syndicated show, you used to listen to him when you lived in that market). You realize, of course, that he is not likely to have the time to fully critique your tape, but perhaps he could answer two quick questions:
1) What aspects of my show seem the most promising?
2) What aspects need the most work?
Point out that you have enclosed a self-addressed, stamped return mailer to minimize his inconvenience and thank him for having taken the time to read this note.
Finally, our WHOLE O CATALOGUE features two audio seminars that will provide you with tons of insight that you can use for self-critiquing:
Oh, a last thought: Be thankful that your PD does critique your work; most jocks don’t get even that much regular feedback.