Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #306 – Little Things Make Big Things Happen: A lesson from John Wooden

This tip is for music stations.

If you don’t know who John Wooden is, you’re probably not a basketball fan.  Wooden, called “The Wizard of Westwood,” won TEN NCAA national championships in a 12-year period as head coach at UCLA, including a record seven in a ROW.  (No other team has won more than four in a row.)  Many of his players became NBA stars, often Hall of Famers like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Gail Goodrich, and Bill Walton.

Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success” has become the Bible to dozens of present-day coaches, and one of the things adjacent to it is his list of “12 Lessons in Leadership,” one of which is “Little things make big things happen.”

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Frost Advisory #453 – A Programming Lesson From Tiger Woods

What’s your station about? My experience is that most stations are about new music adds, the next Christian music concert, deejays and features.

“The foolish thing to do is pretend your features are so good that nothing else matters.

Something else always matters.”

Seth Godin

Tiger Woods has just won his 5th Masters.

“He had gone nearly 11 years since he won his last major, 14 years since that green jacket was slipped off his Sunday red shirt.”

Doug Ferguson, the Associated Press

Notice I’m not quoting the Golf Channel. The stories are streaming out from the Associated Press, Fox News, CNN, NPR, and TMZ.

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Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #305 – The Modified Q Format

This is what I hear a lot of the time nowadays: A jock stops down in the middle of two songs for no apparent reason.  Then he or she reads some idiotic story from the internet that most people saw five days ago, adding a C-minus punch line.  (Or the jock does some piece of trivia, or some “cheerful thought for the day”.)  Then they lurch forward into another song.

But back in the day, when radio had tons of forward momentum and much bigger ratings, there was this thing called the “Q” format.  It was somewhat the same as the Drake format, in that jocks talked over song intros (and at the end of a music sweep, the jock talked at the end of the last song, of course, and did some Content into a commercial break).  But the Q format was often thought of as screaming, hundred-mile-an-hour jocks cramming as much as they could into an intro before the vocal hit.

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Frost Advisory #452 – I Don’t Care About Your Mom

“I don’t care about your mom” may initially sound rather harsh, but… it’s true. Here is the redeeming part. I may not care about your mom, but I care about OUR moms. We care about the common experience.

“People will be more interested in your home movies if they are in them.”

Roy Williams

Just last week I was involved in a project where we asked loyal listeners about a certain radio station. Funny though, they didn’t talk about the features and attributes of the station they way we radio types do… they talked about themselves; their struggles, their kids, their responsibilities, their stress, their environment, their values. The radio station was only referenced in the way it intersected with their lives, if it added value to their lives.

In other words…

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Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #304 – How Stories Work

Telling a story is like being on a see-saw.  On one end is that you want to share something.  On the other end is not wasting the listener’s time.

Here are some rules to help you NOT be the person who takes a long time to tell a story that doesn’t matter:

The first line or two will be what “tethers” your subject matter to the listener – or not.  Start abruptly into something that isn’t timely or relevant to the listener, and you’re dead in the water already.  Spend too long getting into it, again… dead.

Add only the essential details, and let vocabulary and attitude, fueled by Emotions, fill it out.  More facts than we need, names we don’t know, too much setting up who someone is, etc. will kill the story.

End with something we DIDN’T hear earlier in the story.  The ending should surprise, delight, or inform.  Try not to use cornball punch lines.  The “that’s what SHE said” type of line is beaten to death.

Here’s an example, from a team show I worked with:

T: Oh, check your mail today.  You may get the coupon that I got yesterday.  It was for a new product, called “Spam lite.”

B: What do they leave out… to make Spam lite?

T: I don’t know… the snout?

That’s how easy it is, and how little time it takes, to serve up something that the listener will REMEMBER.  (On the air, even with the station’s name, artist, song title, and the team’s name leading off the break, this took only about 20 seconds.  But it’s never really about length.  It’s about IMPACT.)

Frost Advisory #451 – What Can We Do For You?

There was a knock on the door. “Uh, oh! It’s THOSE people!” People that want something FROM you.

It has been said that almost everyone loves to shop, but no one wants to be sold.

“The selfish marketer is marketing at us, trading money for attention to sell average (or below average) products to disinterested people. The excuse is that money needs to be made, or that the boss insists, or that we have no choice…

The successful marketer is marketing with us and for us. And she doesn’t need an excuse.”

Seth Godin

The same is true for your radio station. Think about it… there are some voices your listeners hear only when you’re asking for money.

Well now…

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Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #303 – Doing the Wrong Thing Well

Believe it or not, there are some instances when a really good talent will foul the ball off his own shin.  It happens to baseball players, and it most assuredly happens to air talent.

Case in point, recently a wonderful talent spent time (a setup, followed by two phone calls) setting up a little factoid about how we really only use about 13% of the things we learned in school.

Right at the outset, there are several things wrong with this:

  1. It’s not particularly timely, which means it’s largely irrelevant, because it’s not top-of-mind TODAY.  (Where does this rank on the list of the things that are most important to your listener today, 150th? 250th?)
      
  2. It relies on using a percentage, which automatically makes it sound “left-brain” driven, as opposed to something more “right-brain” and visual and creative, and…

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Frost Advisory #450 – What’s The Shared Experience?

When scanning the radio dial it doesn’t take long to hear something you already know.

“It’s Friday.” Well, thank you very much for that valuable insight. “It’s Labor Day weekend!” Well, I’m certainly glad that I was listening to your station at this particular moment or I would have never known!

Telling your listeners something they already know IS NOT compelling content. Filling time with words that have no purpose other than filling time is not a way to connect to your listeners.

Flying recently I heard the flight attendant announce, “We know you have a choice of airlines.” Well, there’s a news bulletin. THEY know that I have a choice of airlines.

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Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #302 – Looking in the Window

Here’s a little something that happened in a recent session with a great morning team in Austin.  I always try to do video sessions, and during this one, they were on location somewhere.

As we talked, I could see people behind them looking in the window.  The people were just curious, wonder what they were doing, and what the two of them were like.

And that’s what happens every time someone tunes in, too.

It’s kind of like a remark that Garry Shandling made to Jerry Seinfeld in a “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” episode when they talked about seeing Robin Williams for the first time: “You don’t remember what he SAID so much as you remember what he WAS.”

So think about who YOU are, to the listener.  Are you just another person “broad stroke” over-performing, larger than life – but not in a good way?  Or are you someone I can identify with, who’s entertaining, but also surprisingly down to earth and someone I’d like to hang out with?

What you project is a choice.  Choose wisely, because Shandling was right.

Frost Advisory #449 – The Power Of Creativity

I confess. I wanted to call this “The Power of Discipline” but I knew no one would read it.

When teenage athletes are interviewed during the Olympics they seem more mature than their years. There is a reason for that. They’ve been disciplined in their athletic workouts since they were six years old. Discipline with consistent coaching leads to maturity in both athletics and in programming.

There is no format that is as uninteresting when done poorly and no format as remarkable when done well.

Our format can either be “nice Christian people saying nice Christian things to nice Christian people,” or it can be the purposeful design of emotions, stories and songs that reflect the most important relationships and events in people’s lives. Remarkable radio stations happen when we focus on the elements that are transformational. But that takes discipline.

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