Tracy Johnson’s tips for dealing with a bad day in radio

Many of us have jobs. All of us have lives. And one thing that’s true about any job, or any life, is that sometimes you wake up in the morning and you just don’t have it. You can feel that it’s going to be a bad day on the radio.

Maybe you’re groggy. Or hung over. Maybe you have a headache or are just in one of those funks and no matter what you do, it’s hard to get it going!

For whatever reason, there are times when it’s simply a bad day, and they happen at random. They can come right after a series of normal days, or right after a great one. It’s all part of the experience of being human. To maintain mental health, it’s important to  learn not to let the a bad day define you as a personality.

And if you’re a manager or program director, it’s your job to manage those bad days.

A Bad Day For Radio Talent

Everyone has bad days, but not everyone is a performer.

The average employee can hide for a day, or coast through a day. Take a longer lunch, cut a few corners and just get through a bad day. You can make yourself scarce, or even call in sick. If you’re just having a regular weekend day in the dumps, you can choose to stay in, to not hide from the world.

Everyone has a right to bad days, and most people have the flexibility to more or less live their bad days in private. Other people don’t have to know when you’re off your game.

But performers and entertainers don’t have this luxury. There’s a responsibility to perform for an audience, an audience that will quickly realize if something’s not right.

The pressure to perform is always there, because one way or another, you’re going to have to do something, and the people will judge you if what you do isn’t good.

The stakes can be frightening, even paralysing, because there’s no option to hide when you’re a performer. If bad days aren’t managed, talent will be on an emotional roller coaster, and that’s a bad place to be. Personalities must be confident and feel good about themselves to perform at their best.

But most great personalities are highly reactive, emotional and sensitive people who tend to have high highs and very low lows. That’s why managing a bad day is so difficult.

Here’s how to deal with it.

The Process

Bad days are easy to keep in perspective when there’s a commitment to the process of creating great radio, not the performance of a week, day or break.

Emphasize the things that cause success in the long run, such as the preparation process and outstanding execution of the basics. No matter how bad you feel, it’s possible to focus and execute  with precision.

The great basketball coach John Wooden never let players revel in wins or be depressed over losses. Instead, he emphasized the process of winning. He knew that there would be ups and downs, good games and bad.

His philosophy was that winning would happen as a result of focusing on excellence.

This is another reason to have locked-in features in place. Great features like the Phone JibbaAsk AlexaThousand Dollar Minute and Second Date Update provide a structure for the show. This gives continuity and consistency that can cushion even the worst of days.

Dealing With a Bad Day

When a bad day happens, avoid being overly critical. Obsessing about it can turn one bad show or one bad segment into several. It has a snowball effect.

A major league baseball team plays 162 games in a season. A smart manager realizes that every team wins at least 55 games and loses 55 games. It’s what happens in the other 52 games that determines the champion. Maintaining a perspective helps personalities bounce back the next day.

Every personality needs a mentor. It may be PD, coach or sounding board that helps keep bad days in perspective. And, on the other hand, to stay grounded on those great days, when everything flows!

Every show has bad days and bad segments. Every show has good days when everything goes well. It’s part of being a performer.

That doesn’t mean it’s okay to just ignore poor performance and expect it will get better on it’s own. That’s a recipe for creating bad habits.

Analyze bad days. Just don’t obsess about them. Appreciate great days. But remember there’s another show tomorrow. Stay consistent in the goal of pursuing excellence each day.


Roller coasters are fun at the theme park, but not so much when (over) reacting to daily performance.

Bad days make you crazy. It’s frustrating because you know it can be so much better. Some days you just don’t have “it”. Try to avoid those days. Try to get out of the funk. Analyze what happened and why so it doesn’t repeat frequently.

But realize that bad days happen to good personalities. And so do good days. It’s how you respond to the highs and lows that can set you apart.

Maintaining a consistent perspective will build confidence and stability.

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