As Jon Goulet, FS1 producer for The Herd with Colin Cowherd shared with me in the first volume of the Producer’s Playbook, “Don’t be afraid to push back on your host. If you aren’t getting into arguments or disputes somewhat regularly with the host then you aren’t doing your job right. Hosts don’t like producers that agree with everything that they say. They respect producers that make them and their shows better.”
A particularly unique vantage point for host’s needs come from those who have sat in the producers chair at some point in their career. I spoke with three producers turned hosts about what the necessary ingredients for success are when it comes to balancing the producer/host dynamic.
Host of Pritch and Clay on Raider Nation Radio 920 and longtime executive producer & co-host alongside Ed Graney on ESPN Las Vegas, Clay Baker weighed in on the most valuable lesson he learned and how it can help others as they begin to form and develop relationships with their talent.
“If you’re a producer starting out, sometimes looking at how a host does a show can be a mystery that only the talent knows. So immerse yourself with every facet of a show. Take pride in doing all the little things that help hosts stay informed and entertaining; whether it’s show prep or using audio to aid the host’s narrative. Over time, your contributions will add up and you’ll figure out the mystery for yourself. And when it comes your turn to lead, you’ll know what needs to get done in order to do good radio.”
Baker also says the most vita quality for the producer in the producer/host dynamic is enthusiasm. Nothing is as important as actually wanting to do the job.
“Being a producer, it can be a thankless job, and if you come in there looking for daily adulation, get another job. But I believe there is an unspoken energy of someone who wants to be there despite not getting the credit.
“The host’s job can be grinding and whether they realize it or not, they need a creative environment to be successful and as the dynamic gets smaller, the producer’s spirit becomes essential. In addition, enthusiasm keeps you following up on guests, doing production, social media with a purpose. So, if you’re one of those people who produce, while all the time thinking you can do a better job as a host, you’re not only doing a disservice to the host and audience, but you’ll miss out on all the little things you need to learn to be successful, as well.”
Pritch & Clay airs weekdays 7-10am PST / 10am-1pm EST on Raider Nation Radio 920 (@RNR920AM). Follow Clay Baker on Twitter @claybakerradio, his co-host @mipritchard and longtime host @EdGraney on Twitter.
Travis ’T-Bone’ Hancock, co-host for WFNZ’s The Mac Attack, started his career as the executive producer of the show. Producing for over a decade before moving into the co-host chair gave T-Bone a wealth of knowledge about how to navigate his new role on the show.
“The most valuable lesson I learned is patience and be ready for the opportunity whenever it comes time to be called up to host. It’s the radio equivalent of being a backup QB and staying ready daily. Once you get the chance you are in such better spot than most because a host personality with a producer mindset is a tremendous advantage not everyone has. There are few situations you haven’t experienced on air or off air that you can’t handle,” Hancock explained.
T-Bone weighed in on what he believes the key is to developing a strong producer/host dynamic.
“Constant communication is the key between the host and producer. I also learned day one with Mac (now my co host) that in order for me to succeed, and the show as well, that I needed to attempt to match the host’s work ethic as much as possible to create a bond that each day we are a team and in it together.”
The Mac Attack airs Monday-Friday 6-10am EST on WFNZ in Charlotte. Follow @MacAttackWFNZ co-host @TBoneWFNZ and host Chris McClain @MacWFNZ on Twitter.
Jonathan Von Tobel, host of The Edge on VSiN and former Cofield & Company on ESPN Las Vegas producer, shares his experience and the lesson that has resonated the most in his career.
“I would say the most important lesson that I learned in my career was to be aggressive. Usually aggression is viewed as a negative attribute, but it certainly helped move me along my career path. As an intern I asked for opportunities to learn new skills and techniques. As a producer, not only did I make sure my show was always ready to go, but I also volunteered for many opportunities. Going to press conferences to grab sound, running the board for local games and eventually asking to be included on pregame broadcasts. When I was hired as a producer at VSiN, there was an opening for an emergency host. I volunteered, and that was the best decision I’ve ever made, as I’ve been a full time host since that moment,” Von Tobel shared.
“It helps to be aggressive, but with my aggression in my career came a strong work ethic. I always strive to be the best at what I do. Whether it was as a barista while going through school, or as a host right now. With an aggressive mindset, and a willingness to work, I got to where I am today.“
Von Tobel also breaks down the dynamic between producers/hosts and what element is the most crucial to fostering open-communication and success.
“To me, the most important quality to a positive dynamic between a host and producer is the personal relationship. Once the two get to know each other on that level the show can really reach new heights. When I started as Steve Cofield’s producer at ESPN Las Vegas the show was just a show. But as I got to know Cofield, and his co-host Adam Hill, our show improved exponentially. I knew what their personal interests were, what they found funny and what they were looking for in content. It just helped the show find a new level of cohesion,” says Von Tobel.
“As a host, I can speak even more to this, as my current producer, Jacob Roach, and I really get along. Since we’ve come together for our show The Edge, we have improved almost every day. To me, that personal relationship between host and producer is priceless.”
The Edge airs on VSIN weekdays from 1-3pm EST on SiriusXM you can follow Jon Von Tobel on social media at @mejvt. Folow Von Tobel’s former hosts @stevecofield & @AdamHillLVRJ and his current producer @Roach_97 as well.