Today is a tough day. It’s a tough day to coach on air talent. This writing is happening the day after one of the worst terrorist attacks in our country outside of 911. 49 killed and more than 50 injured in Orlando by, what appears to be an act of terrorism. I’m active in coaching today because you’re on the air today. What do I tell you?
Number one: show up! Show up for your listener! Be there because your listener is going through a million emotions right now and the inputs on them are amazingly fast. The barrage is an emotional sensory overload and this is your chance to help him or her navigate through it. Today is a chance to really serve your listener. That is why is instruct you to show up. Disassociate enough to avoid becoming paralyzed by your own emotions about the event.
I would also call today “red meat” day. Don’t venture outside of what your audience expects from you on this day. Yes, comfort. Yes, find ways to help people navigate through the emotions but stay in your area of influence expertise. For example, if you’re on a Christian format—Contemporary Christian or Christian talk—today is not the day to take a political stand. Today is not the day to point fingers. Today is the day to talk about God. Today is the day to talk about Jesus Christ. If you’re on a Conservative talk format, today is not the day to open up the debate by saying something like “well, maybe the liberal nation is correct.” It doesn’t really matter whether you think that or not, Today is not that day. The reason why today is not that day is because your listener does not want you to have that conversation today. Your listener needs help getting through it today. Introducing a change in position puts the focus on you and not on his or her need. You are a stable place in the life of your listener and he/she wants to know what you think and/or wants your advice on this day—from the point-of-view for which you already agree.
Your belief system, going into this, should be the same. The coaching is the same if you are on a Liberal talk format. Today is the day to talk about gun control and hate crimes and government control. Whatever your application, stay in your “read meat zone” because if you don’t your listener will not listen to you. He or she will go somewhere else. Should you be thought provoking? Yes!
If you did consider changing your position, hold that content for a more appropriate moment. Don’t go there today. Maybe in three days’ time, but for today stay in your “red meat zone”.
If your show is all about reasoning an argument—showing both sides—then make sure you’re giving both sides of the story. Be consistent. Be stable. Be of service. Talk about emotional issues. Talk about family and friends Talk about other night clubs.
I would even go further and encourage you to make a point of being remembered for what you did on this day. It goes a long way. It helps people. For example, if you’re on a Christian format, yes, talk about God’s love, yes, talk the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ. However, go further! Are there witnesses? I mean witnessing to His love. Are there testimonies you can find through this tragedy? Find those testimonies. Get them on the air. Start a positive conversation instead of reporting what all others are reporting (or in addition to). The same idea works with Conservative talk, liberal talk, or balanced talk, and music formats for that matter. Conservatives can find grace in this situation that supports conservative values. Liberals can find grace in this event that supports liberal values. Balanced and fair presentations can investigate many more emotions and find grace. Music formats can find grace in the music and those who create it. Grace, in this context, is meant for the listener you serve and not the perpetrators of the event. It is your “red meat” day but find a way to make yourself memorable. It is not enough to say it was a terrible tragedy and “boy I’m mad” It’s more than that. It’s a terrible tragedy. Take care of your listener’s world today.
Epilogue: The most memorable award on this day went to the guy who stayed in his zone. He reported, with a liberal bias, the events and then found grace for his viewer/listener by sharing an emotional reading and background of each victim. Anderson Cooper stole the day by finding the emotional connection with his viewer. He poured out grace for his listener by matching emotion.