AIR’s mentoring program has, since its inception in 1995, quietly expanded to become an essential part of public radio’s programming and production sector. The strength of this program is AIR’s ability to tap into the collective brain trust across a broad spectrum of creative communities—from independents, public radio stations, the networks, and diverse media platforms. Our producer mentors and mentees run the gamut, and include the industry’s leading spot news producers, documentarians, editors, multimedia producers, media strategists, web integrators and developers, and network editors. Any qualified AIR member can apply for help and guidance in virtually every area of discipline from AIR’s most experienced member producers.
AIR’s Training and Mentorship program benefits both young, emerging producers who are just building their chops and—as today’s changing technology affects the craft of producing—AIR’s most veteran producers are also encouraged to seek support to build their expertise in web-based distribution and digital tools. Two different types of mentorships are available: individual and group. Group mentoring typically takes the form of a workshop or intensive led by an instructor known for a particular field of expertise. These sessions may be conducted on-site, in a specific region of the country, in association with an industry gathering, or via the web in a chat or webinar-type format. Intensives are widely publicized and typically open to anyone who wants to attend. AIR members are first to be notified of a workshop opportunity and often offered a discount on any fees associated with the training.
- You must be an AIR member in good standing to apply for an individual mentorship. You must also be a member for at least three months.
- The mentorship fee is $500 for four hours of commitment as all mentors are paid $500. If you are not able to meet the full price and are an AIR member in good standing, AIR will consider the request for subsidy. During the application process, AIRsters will be asked how much they would be able to contribute to the mentorship.
- We require that the mentor and mentee establish a set schedule at the start of the engagement (i.e. one hour every Thursday morning at 10a). If a mentor and mentee wish to continue beyond the recommended time, they are free to negotiate the terms. We find that many of our mentorships continue to stay in touch.
- If you are applying for a mentorship, we require you have a specific project you are working on with a specific “destination” in mind versus wanting help with a general set of skills (“I want to learn more about Pro-Tools” or “I want to understand how to better market and distribute a program I’m thinking about producing”).
- We expect the mentee to work closely with the mentor to agree to a schedule of meetings and a plan of action. We recommend you try to establish up front a timeline that suits your schedules, and a clear set of goals you want to achieve over the course of your 90 day mentorship.
- An AIR member in good standing can apply for a mentorship comprised of four hours of focused, individual attention from an assigned mentor. AIR will use its influence to guide and “match” an accepted mentee with a mentor that best suits his/her needs. A limited number of these mentorships are awarded at no charge for AIR members who meet the requirements detailed in the “Eligibility” section below. In other instances, the mentee will be responsible for paying the mentor.
- AIR’s trainings and mentorships are not intended to replace professional consultation. We support AIR producers who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing their professional radio or audio production expertise and who want to fill in gaps in their established knowledge base or experience. The focus of the work may concern the craft, or it may concern the distribution, business, transition of skill-sets, or negotiation aspect of working in media.
- Compensation for the mentor is $500 for four hours. We strongly recommend that the mentor and mentee establish a set schedule at the start of the engagement (i.e. one hour every Thursday morning at 10a). If a mentor and mentee wish to continue beyond the recommended time, they are free to negotiate the terms and continue through to completion. Suggested compensation is sliding scale, $75 to $150 per hour, but we leave it to the parties involved to decide on what works best for them.
- If a mentor finds that (s)he is having to put in additional time off-line—conducting research, listening, editing material, reviewing, etc…. that should also be counted toward the four hours.
- Many mentorships take place via telephone and email. In situations where mentoring is best conducted in person, AIR makes every effort to find a mentor who is within traveling distance. The mentee is responsible for any additional costs associated with travel or long distance phone conversation.
- Mentorships must be concluded within 90 days after the assignment is made. If the mentorship is not completed within the required period, AIR has the option to forfeit the fee paid to the mentor if determined that the mentor is the reason why the mentorship was not completed.
- At the conclusion of your work, both the mentor and mentee are required to complete evaluation forms. Payment will not be issued to the mentor until the evaluations are completed. Unless you give us permission to share your feedback, all information provided in the evaluation is confidential.
- Where applicable, we also require the mentee to provide us with a work sample to demonstrate the focus of their mentorship. These materials are not used to judge the outcome, but are important to our ability to maintain the high quality of AIR’s training/mentoring program, gauge the program’s effectiveness, and demonstrate results to our funders.
How to apply for a mentor
Each applicant is required to complete a simple form designed to give us an idea of your skill level, your needs, and how far along the project you’re working on is. This application will guide us in deciding on your suitability for mentoring and, if you are accepted, whether you are eligible for a stipend. Your application is key in helping guide us in identifying and enlisting the best mentor for you.AIR welcomes all its members wishing to apply for mentoring. The steps for requesting a mentor, whether you’re an independent producer, or working at a station or network, are simple:
- Fill out the online application.
- Upon receipt of your application, AIR will contact you to discuss your needs, and consider your suitability for a mentorship, and begin considering the best match. Please be aware that sometimes this process can take up to a few weeks.
- Once a mentor is found and accepts the assignment, the mentor and mentee are left to schedule sessions that are mutually convenient and move forward.
- Upon completion of the mentorship, both the mentee and the mentor are required to complete an evaluation report describing the experience to the mentoring coordinator. These evaluations will be kept confidential unless you indicate that we can publish your feedback.
- To qualify for an AIR mentorship subsidy, you must be a member for at least three months and current with your membership dues. Those who are able to pay for the full $500 fee may apply for mentoring at anytime. People who have been AIRsters for less than three months (first three months considered the “orientation period”) are responsible for the full $500 value of the mentorship.
- You must have a specific project you are working on with a specific “destination” in mind versus wanting help with a general set of skills (“I want to learn more about Pro-Tools” or “I want to understand how to better market and distribute a program I’m thinking about producing”).
- Because we have a waiting list of individuals who would like to take advantage of the mentoring program, AIR members who have successfully completed a mentorship must wait one year before applying again. This includes participation in group mentoring, which includes receiving a stipend to attend conferences, workshops, or intensives.
[Note: AIR periodically offers stipends to members traveling to a conference or training. If you’ve received a travel stipend from AIR, this counts as participation in the mentoring program and you may not be eligible to receive a mentoring stipend for two years after receiving the stipend. If it’s determined that you are not eligible for the stipend, you are still free to apply for an individual mentorship where AIR would match you with an appropriate mentor, but you would be responsible for paying the mentoring fee yourself.]