The Ten-Question “Difficult Talent” Test

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One day in 1996, I was watching the Don Imus MSNBC simulcast from WFAN New York, when he suddenly threw a demonic temper tantrum. I can still hear the rage and meanness in his voice, and can still see the shocked look on Charles McCord’s face.

Today, Imus is still one of our greatest talents. He has also mellowed, stopped drinking and stopped taking drugs. But years ago, it was more or less accepted for big-name personalities to be temperamental, unreliable and difficult.

In media today, you should be aware that management’s attitude has shifted, and most companies do not tolerate drama.The only exception is talent who have stellar ratings and are generating a sizable percentage of the station’s revenue.

In the last 18 months, we have personally witnessed five talented personalities with decent ratings get surprised with a pink slip because they were difficult to work with. Three of them are yet to find new work.

Companies know that there are many unemployed, hungry, and talented personalities out there.  One CEO told me, “We’re going to have only team players in our company, because these days we can do so quite easily.”

Are you a difficult, dramatic, diva talent? You probably have some idea if you are, but grab a pen and take this test. Keep track each time your answer is a “yes.”

  • I sometimes show up late for my show, appearances or meetings.
  • I do not always do what I say I will do.
  • I have shouted at someone in the last 3 months.
  • I have insulted a coworker, client or listener in the last year.
  • I complain about problems, but rarely offer solutions.
  • I have not made the changes to my show that management has asked for.
  • I do not take feedback well.
  • I do my radio show – period.  I resist doing appearances, social media, podcasting, or online content because it is not my job.
  • I have been told that I do not make enough time for the sales team or clients.
  • My workday, including the show, appearances, planning and meetings is less than 8-10 hours every day

Grading scale: How many questions did you answer “yes” to?

0-1:  Congratulations. You are a team player!
2-3:  You are a B or C player with time to polish up your act.
4-10: You are a dinosaur of a bygone era, headed for extinction.

As strong advocates of broadcast talent, we encourage you to negotiate your contract, to address conflicts in a positive manner, and of course, to not allow yourself to be unfairly taken advantage of.

We also encourage you to adopt an attitude of impeccable professionalism, so that your gifts and talent can be amplified, appreciated and rewarded.

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/benchun/

Jeff McHugh
Jeff McHugh
Jeff is known for developing remarkable talent for both morning and afternoon drive. He created the top-rated “Daria, Mitch and Ted Show” on KRSK afternoon drive, featuring both Portland’s first female-led drive time show and the city’s first openly gay air personality.
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