Self-Doubt in Radio Broadcasting: The Importance of Support and Recognition

Many years ago, in the early days of InterPrep, I shared with subscribers that I sometimes suffered from self-doubt. I was still very new to the industry, and to improve, I would purchase and listen to airchecks of some of the country’s best morning shows. While this helped me to improve my own morning show, I now realize it was probably also a waste of time comparing myself to broadcasters who had been in the industry for decades. Looking back at my early days, I honestly say I had talent — but I was unsure.

Fast forward to the late ’90s when I worked for one of my favorite radio station General Managers. To help me get to know local business owners better, this GM invited me to join him for a business mixer where I could meet current and potential advertisers. As we mingled, he introduced me to business owners and managers multiple times as “one of the country’s top ten broadcasters.” I should point out that I was working in a small market. After this event, I asked, “Why did you say I was one of the top ten broadcasters in the nation?” He replied, “They don’t know whether that’s true, but I believe you are, and you should believe you are.”

The GM’s comments to business owners worked — I began thinking of myself as a real professional who deserved the accolades my cohosts and I were receiving and would continue to receive.

Fast-forward a few years, and a sales manager came to me about something problematic an on-air host had said off-handedly about a potential advertiser. They asked me if I would talk to them about why what they said was wrong, which made them sound unprofessional. The sales manager said, “You’ve been around long enough to know most DJs have fragile egos, and I think you know what to say.”

She wasn’t wrong, but the beginning of her statement lacked these words: “like most of us.” Most of us deal with “fragile egos” (a term I dislike) every day. Let’s call it what it really is: self-doubt.

Working in radio often means spending a lot of time in isolation. While we work in radio buildings with others, much of our work is done alone, such as writing copy, massaging music logs, editing commercials, and doing live solo shows. This environment can make it easy to feel unappreciated, but it’s important to know that your work is noticed and valued. The copy you write, the stories you share, and even the way you edit phone calls are all appreciated by the people around you — from the sales reps and clients to the listeners who tune in.

Remember, self-doubt is a natural part of the journey. Believe in your talent and know that it is making an impact. Your dedication and hard work do not go unnoticed.

More importantly, let’s make an effort each day to recognize someone for a smart comment on-air, sharp copywriting, or the revisions they made to an old promo. These small acknowledgments can make them feel appreciated and keep them motivated. Your words and recognition can profoundly impact them, just as my GM’s belief in me did. Keep supporting each other, and remember that every bit of encouragement helps to combat self-doubt and build confidence. Together, we can help each other thrive in this industry.

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I’m Steve Holstein, the Publisher and Chief Content Creator at InterPrep.com. I’d love to hear from you if you have a comment about this post or a question about what we do. Please get in touch with me here.