When to Fire a Listener

Posted on June 2, 2011


In addition to terrestrial radio hosts, in my role as a talent coach I work with a number of podcasters. 

Working with these hosts is interesting because the shows are about all sorts of topics ranging from incredibly practical to extremely bizarre.

One show that leans much closer to “practical” is The Business Beware Show hosted by the father-daughter team of Robert and Ashley Bode.   

The show is mainly about providing advice for entrepreneurs and small business owners but their real focus is teaching people how to face, and deal with, “Custo-monsters,” customers who are utterly disrespectful and try to bully a business owner or their personnel.

Robert and Ashley passionately believe that the customer is NOT always right and that businesses should not be afraid to fire truly awful customers.

They maintain that the time and energy wasted on these customers who will never be satisfied can not only drain a company’s financial and emotional resources but can also take the focus away from the really good customers.

The caveat is that everyone has a bad day occasionally. They aren’t suggesting firing every customer who’s a little bit cranky; just the ones that are truly and intentionally disruptive to a business.

Listening to their show led me to consider whether an airtalent or radio station should ever “fire” a listener.

Is there another species in the customonster genus; do we have “listener-monsters?”

The answer, in my opinion, is yes but not many. The key distinction you have to consider is the line between annoying and truly disruptive.

Every station has over-zealous, annoying fans. As rough as they can be to deal with you want to keep them around. You never know who will get a PPM or diary. Grit your teeth and treat them nicely.

It’s when a listener crosses over from annoying into specifically trying to disrupt your show that I believe it’s ok to terminate their fandom and fire them. 

You shouldn’t do it often, but when you do come across one of those rare listener-monsters don’t let them steal your focus. Cut them off and tell them they’ve been fired.