Tommy Kramer Tip #189 – Short, Longer, Longest

You should be able to do three versions of anything you need to promote:  Short, longer, and longest.


[5 seconds]
“KBUT 94.9 window stickers are free at any Tom Thumb grocery store…”

[10 seconds]
“KBUT 94.9 stickers on your window or bumper look great, tell people what kind of music you like, and can win you cash!  Pick yours up today FREE at any Tom Thumb store.”

[20 seconds]
“KBUT 94.9 bumper stickers look great and they’re free – and just like duct tape, if you put enough of them on your car, you can actually cover up a broken window or a big dent.  And the number on each one is what we use to give out cash and prizes – like maybe even a NEW car!  So get your sticker today at any Tom Thumb grocery store, then listen for your number to be called out on the air.”

Now you probably already know that the shortest version is the hardest one to do.  But at any length, CLARITY is the key.  You can always add more word pictures, if more length will work.  But if you can’t do the super-short versions, you’re not great yet.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

A Gift From Pearl Harbor

“The true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.”
~Simon Sinek

Every year on December 7th we hear about the attack on Pearl Harbor, “A date that will live in infamy.”  Our lives changed in that day… yes, each and every one of us, irrespective of age.  For that is the moment that drove us to superpower status.

Before December 7, 1941, the United States had the 14th largest military in the world and was a country going through a time of isolationism.  The war produced “the greatest generation,” and they, in turn, produced the next generations.

But that’s not the end of the gifts.  On CBS Sunday Morning, in an interview with some of the remaining survivors of Pearl Harbor, one of them said something we’ve heard many times before, but rarely pay much attention to.

“I live every day as if it were my last.”

That concept doesn’t get much long term traction because the activities of life take over, and we think of it from our own perspective.  But what if, as leaders, we looked at today as our last day through the lens of how our leadership looks to the people around us?   Would others see us as the leader Sinek talked about?

How would you lead differently if tomorrow were your last day?  Would you be irritated as often?  Would you talk about the people around you any differently?  If you had only the one day, would you think about your legacy?

Conversely, would you be more honest with people if it were your last day?  Would you still kick the “I have to talk with them about that challenge someday” can down the road once again, or deal with difficult issues when they come up?  Would you be more grateful for the opportunity your team gives you?

We all have the gift of this kind of foresight available, and we all can sacrifice at least some self-interest if we choose to.


Frost Advisory #344 – Your Listeners Are More Important Than Your Features And Sweepers

“Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself.”
~Donald Miller, “Blue Like Jazz”

Think about the things you love.

I love the guitar because my high school buddies Kenny and Wally loved the guitar.

I love Mexican food because I’m a Texan.  It’s the law.

I first loved baseball because my dad loved baseball.  In fact, when you ask someone how they became a baseball fan they usually respond by talking about someone they love.  There is no better example than following last year’s World Series when Cubs’ fans wrote the names of loved ones on the brick wall at Wrigley Field.  Curious, isn’t it?

Everyone listens to your station because they love something else.  So every effort to make them love our features and sweepers misses the point.  It’s like trying to convince a baseball fan to love a team because the pitcher’s mound is 60 feet 6 inches away from home plate.

“Write because you love the reader.  Never write to prove your point.  Write to remind the reader they have infinite value.”
~Donald Miller

People love your radio station because they love something else.  When you figure that out, just stand back and watch people begin to love your station.

Tommy Kramer Tip #188 – No “Hallmark Card” Content, Please

Even very bright talents will slip up once in a while and do “pap for the masses,” thinking that it works.

This is what I heard one jock say recently:
“I love this… ‘good moms let their kids lick the beaters; great moms remember to turn off the mixer first.’  Yeah, I’ve been there”

Really?  This sounds like a Hallmark Card for Mother’s Day, or something Ann Landers or Erma Bombeck might have written – in 1981.  And no, you haven’t “been there,” or we’d have noticed the Child Protective Services van outside that house.  (Because, apparently at some point, that mixer was left ON.)

Let’s be clear: I’m certainly not against doing things that are heartwarming or encouraging.  That’s fine, but NOT if it sounds insipid or obsequious.

If you don’t know what those words mean, just ask Siri.  Because, contrary to what that air talent thought, it’s not 1981 anymore.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Frost Advisory #343 – Why Does Everyone Think Their Radio Station Is Interesting?

Go ahead.  Ask them.

Everyone, of course, will say that ‘yes’ their radio station is interesting.

“Where men are strong, women are good looking, and all children are above average.”
~Garrison Keiller

Then why is it that your own staff, the folks that are supposed to care the most, don’t listen at their desks.  Why is it that you don’t hear the station playing in the hallways?  Why are we “the team” not rooting for our own cause?

The program director of one of the best-known Christian radio stations in America looked out his office window at the parking lot and said to me, “I don’t see one bumper sticker for our station.”

(Go look out at yours. I’ll wait).

If your station is SO interesting why is it that your fanniest of fans listens fewer than 3 days per week?  That’s half as many times as you go to your mailbox.

Your station really isn’t all that interesting, you know.  But maybe it can be.


We have to bridge the gap.  We have to risk taking all that radio stuff we do and connecting it to the listener’s life in ways that are meaningful and relevant.

We have to do stuff and say stuff and be stuff that matters.

It’s really the only choice we have.  Our future success will not come from our mattering less.

Tommy Kramer #187 – A Lesson from Bill Walsh

Great stations, like great football teams, have this buzz about them – a vibe that everyone is pumped about working there.  Not-so-great stations feel like a widget factory, populated by people waiting for their shifts to end so they can go home.

NFL wizard Bill Walsh, who coached the San Francisco 49ers to multiple championships in the eighties, said “If you can get everyone to laugh together, you can get everyone to get serious together.”

I do think that’s true, and years ago, we used to do a lot of things as a unit, whether it was going to a concert, or just hanging out together.

That’s not always possible in the 21st century, but I believe you can turn Walsh’s lesson around, too: If you can get everyone to be serious together, then you can get everyone to laugh together.

No matter how bad the day has been – say there’s no coffee in the coffee maker, the computers are glitchy, or the candy machine ate your dollar bill and spat out a Zagnut with an expiration date of November 3rd, 1998 – take a moment to relax.  Gather your thoughts, clear your mind, and get ready for your show.  By being serious about your job, you play your part in being a team leader.  And if enough people do this, something magical happens.  The mood lightens when everyone is purposeful.

I know this sounds simplistic, but frankly, that’s what losing stations always think – and then pay the price for thinking that way.  Do your part to make your station the one where everyone wants to work.  You’ll find that there’s a lot of laughter that grows out of being really good together.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Frost Advisory #342 – New Year’s Resolution: A Station That Matters

Have you seen that Facebook thing?  That thing where they take a year’s worth of your posts and create a montage of what you’ve posted the most.

Well now…

From what I’ve seen that would be mainly pictures of food, Chewbacca Mom, and anti-Hillary anti-Trump rants.  (At least the ridiculing of Mariah Carey’s lip syncing will have to wait until the 2017 montage).

Seems to me that if there is ANY format that ought to do something that matters it is the CCM format.

“So much more important than being heard is having something worth saying.”
~Erwin McManus

Now, don’t get me wrong I am not suggesting that stations should have less playtime and laughter.  They can be key ways that friendships are formed, don’tcha know.

But if that’s all you do then that’s all you are.  And you’re no different than the stations up and down the dial.

Successful stations understand and embrace what makes them meaningful and preferable.  They then demonstrate those values in ways that resonate emotionally with their listeners.

Researcher Jon Coleman observes, “I think that PPM may have caused radio programmers to become slaves to the ‘in the moment’ and lose track of what really builds ratings… (It’s) is not (about) eliminating every possible tune out, but rather offering emotion-evoking reasons people can love the station.  When people like or love a station they tune into it every day or even several times a day… People don’t come back to a station tomorrow because of a reduced tune out today.”

To paraphrase Francis Chan, this New Year our greatest fear should not be just of failure in the ratings but of succeeding at having a radio station that doesn’t really matter.

Thanks to my talented friend Carol Ellingson at Z88.3 in Orlando who created the mosaic using the Instagram website  Carol is a “wow”maker.

Tommy Kramer Tip #186 – How Long Should An Interview Last?

If you wonder about how long interviews should last, the quick answer is “It should end before I want to kill the guest.”

Seriously, in practical terms, plan on ONE segment.  Anything past that should earn its way onto the air by adding something new and compelling to the interview.

Remember, an interview’s purpose isn’t to drum up business for the guest.  It’s to make the guest come across as interesting enough or entertaining enough for me (as a listener) to even CARE about what they’re pushing, whether it’s a new album, concert, movie, charity, etc.

And I’d recommend never having a guest on for more than an hour, no matter who it is.

No doubt you’ve heard “leave the listener wanting more,” but not all air talents have the discipline to really do it.  The minute you find yourself checking the clock to see how soon this segment will be over, you should have already ended it.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Frost Advisory #341 – Gentlemen, This Is A Football!  A New Year’s Perspective

The start of a new year is a great time to prioritize the things that make the biggest impact on your station’s growth and success.  Major in the majors, as they say.  The more advanced your station the more you can go beyond the basics to the more complicated concepts such a developing a meaningful brand and connecting emotionally.

But at its core programming is a relatively simple process.  Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi put such emphasis on the basics that he is famous for starting every training camp with these five words,

Gentlemen, this is a football

In my other life I do some baseball announcing for spring training in Florida.  It is there that I see practice drills that resemble more little league than big league.  Many times during the regular season a critical moment in a game will come down to “something they practice every day in spring training.”

Someone said “Spring training is like the movie Groundhog Day … you keep doing it until you get it right … then you do it again.”

Just as with sports, radio programming has its basics.   They are:

  1. Play the music your listeners love.
  2. Talk about things they are interested in.
  3. Don’t waste their time.

I can tune to an under-performing radio station and within thirty minutes I’ll hear at least one of these basics executed poorly or not at all.

But that’s the past.  Now it’s a new year and we have a clean slate.  What’s say we start the year by getting these three things right, then we can go to work on the more complicated stuff!

This Side Toward Enemy

“The most important thing I learned is that soldiers watch what their leaders do.  You can give them classes and lecture them forever, but it is your personal example they will follow.”
~General Colin Powell


When the team is together, everyone talks teamwork.  When it’s public, we’re all aware that people are watching.  But when in pairs, or by themselves, when they think no one is around, it’s sometimes different.  They’re not leaders, I’m not even sure they’re managers, but I know they are toxic.

There’s a reason the military has “This side toward enemy” printed on the front of Claymore mines.  They know that sometimes people are in a hurry, not paying attention, or just don’t understand the ramifications of which way it needs to go.  I’m sure in the early days there were cases of those devices being planted in the wrong direction.  But in the business world, a backfire is a glitch.  People aren’t killed.  Harmed maybe, but not killed.

The difference is you, and your leadership.  When you’re complaining about your boss, or another leader, when you’re rolling your eyes at their comments, or when you try to create an alliance to ensure you win, you’re planting a leadership Claymore in the wrong direction.