Frost Advisory #375 – Don’t Stare Directly At This: A Programming Lesson From The Solar Eclipse (Part One)

Have you heard?  It’s been in all the papers.  There is a total solar eclipse on Monday.  It’s the first one since I was in college.

It begins in Oregon at 9:06 AM Pacific and ends in South Carolina at 4:06 PM Eastern.

Well, that’s one point of view.

You see, a total solar eclipse is ALWAYS occurring SOMEWHERE in space.   All I’ve done is state three perspectives from North America.

“Since I was in college” is a perspective relevant to only me.  No one else cares.

“It begins in Oregon” is relevant only to Oregonians or those one million driving their Magic Buses through the Columbia River gorge to camp out and smoke, smoke, smoke their cigarettes. *Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen

The people that care most about the eclipse are those directly along the path; Corvalis to Kansas City, Nashville to Greenville.

Time magazine has a nifty little gizmo that shows how the solar eclipse will look from anywhere in the United States.  You simply enter your zip code and see what the eclipse will look like from where you are.

What if we had an app for that?

What if there was a nifty little gizmo where a listener could enter a code and our stations would immediately resonate with their life?  What if our stations resonated just as much with a seeker as someone deep in their faith?

I’m not suggesting changing the station’s purpose, mind you, but rather consider the ability to zoom that purpose directly into to people’s lives, like the way the eclipse resonates more with those along its path.

I like Roy Williams’ perspective.

“Have you ever used a zoom lens?  Think of your brain as having one.  As you zoom in, you exclude the context to focus on the tiniest details.  But when you zoom out, you see those details fold in on themselves to reveal the ever-expanding context of the big picture.”

When you discover that big picture you’ll discover the common ground to reach the largest possible audience.

Ian:  What did the sun say when it reappeared after an eclipse?
Angus:  What?
Ian:  “Pleased to heat you again.”
(Joke by Ian T., Acton, Mass.  Boyslife.org)

Tommy Kramer Tip #219: The Listener is NOT Stupid

It’s my mission to make you the most interesting and entertaining person your listener ever hears.  I want you to have a job you love to go into each day, for you to have a successful career, and for you to have a happy life as a result.

But once in a while, as part of the process, I have to deal with things that may not be all rainbows and pixie dust in an effort to get you to be the best version of yourself on the air.  Here’s one of the potholes…

A lot of radio people apparently think the Listener is stupid.  Some examples:

“Remember, that’s Saturday, August 19th” – after you JUST SAID THAT a few seconds ago.  Beating it into the listener’s head with a mallet isn’t really a good plan.

“Get a bumper sticker for your car.”  (As opposed to what?  A bumper sticker for my microwave?)

“7:12, twelve minutes after seven.”  (GAD.  I thought we’d put this chestnut to rest a LONG time ago.  But… apparently not.)

“It’s Wednesday…”  (Thanks.  I’ve been in a coma, and was hoping someone would tell me what day it is.)  “Happy Tuesday” (something I heard on the air just yesterday) is the same kind of thing – ridiculous, because no one ever says that in real life.

I spend countless hours coaching people in how to avoid being redundant and repetitive on the air – because as long as we treat listeners like they’re stupid, we make OURSELVES sound stupid.

In actual, everyday conversations, telling a person something more than once or saying the obvious is just boring. (Or even worse, it can sound like nagging.)

When you say words that don’t matter, YOU don’t matter.  So it’s important to train yourself to say something once – really well – then move on.

About the only exception I can think of would be giving the phone number a couple of times for a contest or soliciting calls about a subject, because people may not get it the first time.

But here’s one thing you should definitely remember: EVERY listener is smart enough to push a button and find something else to listen to.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Frost Advisory #374 – It’s Back To School Time!

Back to school time is everywhere.  In the stores with sales.  On the highways with school buses.  There are even tax free days for Back to School.

It’s not an official holiday like Christmas, Ground Hog Day, or Millard Fillmore’s birthday, but it is just as evident.  Back to school affects everyone’s schedule, even those that don’t go to school.  (Can’t say that about ole Millard’s birthday.)

“The difference between school and life?  In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test.  In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”
~Tom Bodett

My friend Tim McDermott of KSBJ recently introduced me to the book, “The One Thing” by Gary Keller, where he shares “the ability to dismiss distractions and concentrate on your ONE Thing stands between you and your goals.”

So, let’s go back to school and discuss the one thing that can transform programming.

I’ll begin this back to school lesson by asking for a permission slip to skip the obvious first answers – music and positioning.  Let’s save those for the second semester.

On this first day of school I’d like to introduce the idea that “The One Thing” for our radio stations is… meaningful content.  You know, the stuff between the records.   While that may not be a new idea on this first day of school, there are important ramifications that, if we ignore, could send us to detention.  Or extinction.

  1. Meaningful content creates familiarity.  We care about things that relate to us.  And what we prefer is directly related to things we know.  Said another way, we can’t prefer things we don’t know.
  2. Meaningful content creates humanity.  People relate to people.  A bunch of technical stuff can’t create a bond like an interesting, caring person.  (Even Facebook, which is a breakthrough in technology, is all about people).
  3. Meaningful content creates distinction.  If your station is just like the other stations (i.e., playing the same music) there is no reason to prefer you.  Preference is directly connected to donor support and ratings performance.

So class, on this first day of school let’s return to Gary Keller’s “The One Thing.”  He asks, “What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Beyond the fundamentals of music and positioning, The One Thing that your station has to do is to do things that matter.  That can only happen if you have meaningful content between the songs.

Tommy Kramer Tip #218 – The Real Nature of Personality

“Personality” is one of those words that’s used constantly, but is vague in its meaning.

I had a session with a veteran talent recently in which the issue was his talking about things on the air, but without any real investment into making it something other than just bullet points being read to the listener.

So I reminded him to just keep on relaxing into it, and to “color” those things (a local Civil War photography show, a regional agricultural “festival”) with personal comments and ‘takes’ on what those EXPERIENCES – not just events on a page – might be like.

Here’s how I summarized it:

Even just a small “aside” like you said today about the rain in the forecast, “We need it for the cherry tomatoes,” brings the listener a step closer to you.

“Personality” isn’t just about being funny; it’s about how personally the listener gets to know you.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Frost Advisory #373 – “You Never Have A Second Chance…

…to make a first impression,” so goes the famous quote from Will Rogers.

When we radio folk talk about increasing the station’s listenership, or  ‘building cume’ in PPM lingo, we’re really talking about making good first impressions.

“So how important are first impressions?  Well it determines if you get the second interview for your dream job or acceptance in the college or university of your choice.  A good first impression can mean a second date and who know what happens after that.  Making a good first impression gets you a meeting with the senior partners in the private equity firm evaluating your business proposal.  No doubt first impressions matter.”
~John Maxwell

There is an Outback Steakhouse near our place already adorned with custom signage with brand logo.  And it’s still under construction.  Their first impression is “coming soon,” signaling the arrival to your neighbor that their distinctive Bloomin’ Onion and Aussie Cheese Fries are only weeks away.  Folks will be waiting in line at their grand opening.  You can bank on it.

All too common in our format first impressions are unfamiliar music, unwelcoming voices, and conversations that make people feel like outsiders.

So it bears the question… which gives a better first impression; your radio station or this restaurant?  And Outback isn’t even open yet.

Tommy Kramer Tip #217 — More Words, Less Impact

We all now that one windbag who’s always at the party, telling stories that never seem to end.

And we all avoid getting sucked into a conversation with that person.

The reason is simple, but more important today than ever in the Twitter, L8R for “later,” emoji world.

Time is a person’s most precious commodity.  We’re all too busy; we have things to do, and anything that impedes that is resented.  The more words you use, the less effective the message is.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Frost Advisory #372 – Fans For Life

So here we are.  Nine months after the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, Chicagoland has a baby boom.

The Chicago Cubs did exactly what our stations should do… they descended on families of newborns to ensure Fans for Life.  The Cubs showed up in Chicagoland hospitals with the World Series trophy, the team mascot, and beloved players surprising unexpected new parents.

“The team honored this boon of championship babies… by awarding them special Fan Club memberships (containing a “Rookie of the Year” onesie, a beanie, a special birth certificate and a personalized Wrigley Field photo marquee)… the team’s mascot, Clark, was on hand as well for a great group photo.” MLB.com

The result?  Cubs fans for life.

As we arm wrestle with PPM for one additional listening occasion per week perhaps our time would be better spent by creating a radio station worthy of having fans for life.

You know, it doesn’t matter what we do if what we do doesn’t matter.

Tommy Kramer Tip #216 – Jump-starting Getting To The Next Level

Okay, so you’ve got all the obvious skills as an air talent.  But the reason people hire me is that the obvious skills aren’t the ones that actually engage people emotionally.

People who’ve worked with me know that I teach a lot of radio techniques by NOT using radio as an example.  (And I’m also fortunate to work with several extremely successful voice actors that you hear every day on national commercials and movie trailers.)

So to be a better air talent, or to try and transition to the voice acting world, here’s a simple first step:

Watch great movies, and soak up WHY the great actors ARE the greats.  Here are several movies to watch that I recommend:

The Maltese Falcon.
Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre – all three completely different from each other, all just great vocal studies.  Yes, it’s an old black-and-white movie, but it’s a dialogue and acting clinic.

Anything with Tom Hanks or Harrison Ford.
Hard to beat these two.  These guys just embody the “everyman” image, but can also play heroic parts.  I’d pay to watch Hanks read a parking ticket.

Lonesome Dove.
The best mini-series ever on TV, with the great Robert Duvall in one of his two favorite performances ever, and the wonderful Tommy Lee Jones.

Mama Mia.
Yes, the ABBA movie.  With Meryl Streep, an acting (and voice acting) class herself, and other standout performances from the entire cast, especially the three male stars.  If you sneer at it just because it’s ABBA stuff, well, get over it.

The Godfather.
If you don’t like the violence or subject matter, okay, but you should watch something with Marlon Brando.  He understood better than anybody the power of delivering a line softly, rather than being loud.

Anything written by Aaron Sorkin.
The West Wing, The Newsroom, The American President (if only we had one like Michael Douglas in this movie), Moneyball,  The Social Network, etc. Sorkin is, in my opinion, the best screenwriter on earth.  He really gets “emotional investment” (an acting term that I preach all the time).

Have fun watching, and LEARN.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Frost Advisory #371 – It’s Not Going To Get Better Later

We’ve all done it.

Waiting through the first part of a boring movie.   You hope it will get better.

Sitting down at a restaurant.   The waiter is slow to come over.  Minutes tick by without giving your drink order.  You hope it will get better.

In a world of instant gratification, a better choice is only a push of a button or a click of a mouse away

Don’t make your listeners wait for your station to be good.

Be good now.

It’s not just an idea.  It’s the way all great program directors think.

*After reading this Frost Advisory, tune to your station and evaluate the very next thing you hear.   Are your listeners having to wait for your station to be good?

Tommy Kramer Tip #215 – Why You Should Never Say “Maybe”

“Maybe” is a word I don’t like to hear, because by definition, it’s ‘conditional’ in nature.

“Maybe you’ve done this…” also carries the flip side (in the listener’s head) of “No, I haven’t.”  Click.  Disengage.

“IF” is the magic word.  It activates the imagination, and doesn’t leave room for the doubting side of the coin.

Example:
“Maybe you’re seven feet tall…” only talks to people who ARE that height.

But “If you were seven feet tall…” opens up the mental possibility – and the ‘buy-in’ factor, as a result.

There’s also the inclusive: “We’ve all done this…” or “We’ve all seen this…”  (But it has to be true.  It can’t be “We’ve all skinned a buffalo with a butter knife…”)

Anyway, now you’ve got a couple of new arrows in your quiver to help make you sound more CERTAIN – and dynamic – on the air in a very subtle way.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.