Frost Advisory #233 – Thank You Mighty Much

gratitude
“Thank you mighty much” were the words Ed shouted as folks left his tiny country grocery store.  Ed appreciated his customers, and everyone walked away with something free.

For the grown ups, it was the Coke machine that wouldn’t take their money.  For the kiddos it was “don’t forget your surprise” as they reached their tiny arms into the large jar of bubble gum.

“It’s tough for the seeds of depression to take root in a grateful heart.”  Andy Andrews

Gratitude leads to a sense of value, which leads to a sense of responsibility.

My talented friend Brian Yeager spent some time away for the holiday and returned with a fresh sense of gratitude, value, and responsibility.   He shared these thoughts with his team:

“It just reminded me how much what we do is INCREDIBLY important. Every time that mic is opened, that we are connecting, giving people an experience. We inspire and entertain. We share life. We are their friend when they have none. We are the love of Jesus. And just filling up breaks with meaningless words is simply CRAP. Don’t do it. Don’t do it ever.

While I was gone I got to see old college friends I haven’t seen in a decade. Two friends personify our approach and “their” approach. “Bob” was great to see. He has done a lot of things I’m excited about. But, I left the time hanging out feeling a little like the conversation was empty. He never asked about me. We talked about him.

My next friend, “John” was a lot of fun to talk about. His life is very interesting. He’s done some amazing things. His wife has done some great youth ministry. He also asked me about what I do. We had a real conversation. It was fun. I learned about him. He learned about me.  I felt validated and valued as a person.

“Bob” is like a LOT of radio stations – like the one I listened to. It’s crap.

“John” is what we want to do. Let’s talk about them. Let’s love on them. Let’s bring their life to the forefront.

Let’s not waste a moment we open up the microphone.”

Brian the radio guy and Ed the grocer have something in common.  Each has a sense of gratitude and responsibility.

For Ed the grocer that sense of responsibility showed up in delivering groceries free of charge to the elderly and shut-ins in his small west Texas town.  Watching Ed Sargent was a life lesson for me, that 13-year-old stock boy who got to ride along on those grocery deliveries, including to my very own grandmother.

Thank you mighty much!

And Happy Thanksgiving!

Tommy Kramer Tip #78 – Replacing “Announcing” and “Presenting”

A good portion of today’s radio listeners – and just about all of the next generation of listeners – want their audio media to adopt the style of social media.

Well, that’s not exactly possible. For one thing, radio is still the biggest social media phenomenon in history. Bigger than Facebook, bigger than Twitter, more social than TV or movies.

If you need proof, think about this: there are millions of people who don’t have Facebook or Instagram or Twitter accounts, but there is no one who hasn’t listened to radio. You don’t have to read it, you don’t have to post anything, and there’s just “like” (it’s on) or “unlike” (turn it off). It’s simple and pure, IF you sound like right now instead of like 1994.

So here’s how you still sound valid without coming across like children to your core demo, or like old geezers with bad hairpieces to your younger listeners:

Instead of announcing, just think about sharing.

Instead of presenting, try inviting.

Stop ‘selling’ things on the air. No one is buying.

You can either be my friend, riding in the car with me (or at my desk at work), or you can be the audio equivalent of pop-up ads on a website.

Choose wisely. The clock is ticking.

If you need help, well…I assume that’s why you’re reading this. There are people here that you can call. If you’ve never worked with a great Consultant or a truly focused Talent Coach, you’re just driving a car with no air conditioning and manual windows.

I think you deserve better than that.

Frost Advisory #232 – The Salvation Army and the Bell Ringer

bellringerEvery Christmas for the last several years I’ve thrown a few coins into the Salvation Army bucket down the street at the Piggly Wiggly. But not this year. Nope. They’ve changed their bell ringer. The guy standing outside the store ringing the bell is going to be different this season, so I’ve decided not to give.

Ludicrous, isn’t it? Obviously no one would stop donating to the Salvation Army because Bernie replaced Barry at the bucket.

Then why is it that our radio stations hear this type of complaint fairly regularly?

You’ve change programs!

You’ve changed the disc jockeys!

You cancelled Adventures in Odyssey!

You did this ONE thing that I don’t like… so I’m not going to donate to your station anymore!

They are basically saying “you’ve change the bell ringer.”

I know what the Salvation Army stands for. I believe in their cause of helping those who can’t help themselves. My understanding of the vision and purpose of their ministry is far more important to me than who stands outside Winn-Dixie ringing a bell.

Just this week I overheard a listener tell my friend Tyler McKenzie , “I got a mammogram because of you.” Tyler and her friend Ellis are the #1 morning show in their town, and not because they play 5 in a row or they hit the spotsets at the quarter hours.* It’s because they are meaningful, and may have even saved someone’s life.

No one will refuse to go to New York Yankees’ games because Derek Jeter has retired. I reckon no one stopped going to Starbucks because they quit serving the Captain Crunch Frappuccino.

Just as nature abhors a vacuum, you’ll likely hear complaints about the bell ringer because the bigger story isn’t being told.

*There is nothing wrong with tactics that potentially minimize tune out or aid additional listening occasions, but they should not be confused with creating compelling reasons to love your station.

Tommy Kramer Tip #77 – Leapfrog + the Rules of Improv

This tip was originally one that I used in doing, then coaching, team shows. But it actually applies to any on-air conversation, like a contest winner call, for instance.

Here’s the key to having it all unfold the right way:

It’s like playing “leapfrog” as a child. Each thing said by you or the other person should move the subject forward – just like one person leapfrogs the other in the kids’ game.

Add to this the mentality of the 2 most basic Rules of Improv. They are:

1. YES.

2. “and…”

1. The answer to any premise is always “Yes.” (This doesn’t have to be spoken. It can simply be understood. The buy-in is what matters.)

2. Then you add your point, moving things along. For example, in Improv, if you say “I’m trying to grow a third arm,” I should answer with something like “Cool…!” then add something like “It’d be great if you could grow it out of the back of your neck. Then you could drive and scratch your back at the same time.”

The “Yes, and…” principle guarantees momentum. You’re constantly adding something, rather than simply agreeing with what was just said, or repeating it in slightly different words. (Remember, true momentum isn’t about pace. It’s about always moving forward, and in as straight a line as possible.)

You can apply this to solo work, too. Try to never let it bog down or repeat yourself. Once you master this, you make everyone else sound like they’re just rambling or babbling.

Frost Advisory #231 – We Ain’t Got Enough Stuff!

We don’t have enough money! We don’t have enough marketing and research! We don’t have enough people!

Surprise! In more than forty years of being inside tall stations and short stations, successful stations and gonna-be successful stations, I’ve never heard anyone say they had enough stuff!

Every station needs more something! But every station has the same amount of something, too!

Time.

Rather than focusing on what we don’t have perhaps we should consider focusing on making the most of what we do have.

I’ve seen some program directors spend so much time on the on-line forums and Facebook during their workday that I wonder when they have time to actually program their stations. (Answer: They don’t). I’ve seen organizations spend so much time in meetings that they no longer have time to get anything done.

While obviously some meetings are important, Robert Pozen, productivity expert and contributor to the Wall Street Journal, recently wrote that meetings are “the bane of corporate life.” He insists that companies are scheduling far too many of them, failing to maximize that wasted time and – in effect – ignoring the “real” work of getting things done.

In short, meetings are an excellent way to showcase how busy you are, but are a horrific way to let actual productivity slide.

meetings

My talented friends at NGEN share their creativity on wasting time!

Here’s a suggestion on how to make better use of your time, from Jack Kinder in “Breakfast with Ted”:

“At the end of each day, …sit down and identify the many things to be done the following day. On a second piece of paper, …list in the order of their priority.”

The next day start at the top of your list and scratch out tasks completed. Moving from top to bottom, you’ll seldom mark out all of them. However, you will form the habit of focusing on the highest priorities!

“Don’t get so busy dribbling that you forget we’re supposed to score.” Phil Jackson

Tommy Kramer Tip #76 – It’s My First Time

I once put up a sign on the Control Room door that said:

“I just got into town. I got into the car, turned the radio on, and hit the ‘scan’ button. It landed on your station. I don’t know what station it is, what the format is, what the dial position is, or who you are. You have thirty seconds.” (Now, PPM is showing that it’s more like TEN seconds.)

I base everything I coach on “first time” listening. If I just tuned in for the first time, can I get what’s going on here? Are you making references to things that I don’t understand, since I’m not a regular listener to the show?

All too often, the Air Talent assumes that the Listener has been there for a few minutes, or that “everyone knows” what he or she is talking about. I call this “The Eminent Danger of the Assumption.”

Reset the stage for the Listener. Don’t assume anything. Remember, I just tuned in.

Think of what was originally called the “Fox Block” – the little box in the corner of the screen when you watch a football game that tells you the teams, the score, the time left on the clock. (It’s now standard on every network.) Radio doesn’t have the visual tool that television does, so we have to do it verbally.

As you listen to an aircheck with your Talent, if you hear the “assumption” mentality, simply stop the audio and ask, “Who is this? What station am I listening to? What’s going on here?” The Talent will get it immediately, and start to police himself. Plus, he’ll start to ask those questions when he hears a competitor, and think that they’re lame for not knowing what he knows. That builds confidence.

Frost Advisory #230 – Your Flight Is Delayed

travelerMy 5:25 flight out of Nashville was delayed until 6:30, according to the e-mail. Okay, I have more time for my meetings and can head out later than expected.

When I arrived at the airport the enormous departure sign in the concourse indicated that my flight was still scheduled for 5:25.

Ouch! I hadn’t planned for that! I had only twenty minutes to make it through security and get to gate C19, the farthest away!

I ran up to the gate only to see the sign “DELAYED”. Bemused by the contradiction and frustrated by the awkward cowboy boot run through the airport, the smiling lady at the Southwest counter responded, “Those signs are run by the airport. They are not coordinated with the gate.”

“But that is the purpose of the signs,” I responded, “to let people know the latest on when their flight departs.”

Ridiculous, I know! The sign didn’t do the very thing it was designed to do, and no one seemed to even mind. But how often does this happen at our radio stations?

I know of a station that wanted to do a daily fishing report, despite the fact that no one tuned to their station for that. The programming element was disconnected from the very purpose of the radio station.

Likely you’ve run across that with the Saturday night teen show, obituaries, radio dramas for children, or just songs that your listeners don’t like all that much.

What is your station designed to do? How is each feature on your station designed to enhance that experience and add value to your brand?

Successful radio stations are built through listener loyalty as demonstrated by more frequent listening occasions*. That happens only when a station consistently fulfills the listeners’ expectations.

Written from seat 26C. With my boots off!

Tommy Kramer Tip #75 – Your 5th Best Thing

Lately, I hear a lot of people doing things on the air that frankly, they’re not very good at. Traffic reporters trying to be personalities”. People trying to tell stories, even though they never seem to have an ending – or sometimes even a decent beginning. Jocks putting their hard-to-understand, marble-mouthed children on the air thinking that it’s “cute”.

It’s easy to think that being good at one thing means that you’re automatically going to be good at other things. But of course that’s not always the case. (Michael Jordan trying to play baseball comes to mind. Not pretty. His Airness became His Waving A Bat At The Air-ness.)

Here’s the way it works in radio, my friend: No one tunes in to hear you do your 5th best thing. Or even your 3rd.

Often, my early work with a talent is simply about shoring up fundamental stuff that may need work, that you may have never learned, or that you were taught wrong. But after that initial stage, I think the next job as a talent coach is to identify your biggest strengths – just one or two things – and then whittle it down to where that’s all you do.

So if you genuinely want to be a great air talent, start by asking yourself these two questions, in this order:

  1. What am I good at?
  2. Really?

Be honest. If you don’t know the answer to those questions – and most people don’t – you need a coach.

Frost Advisory #229 – Why People Love Your Station

“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 first loved the guitar because my high school buddies Kenny and Wally loved the guitar.

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 else.

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

I first came to faith because it was lived out for me by two people I admired most – my mom and dad. I wanted to be like them. In fact, I still do.

Everyone that listens to your station does so because they love something else. So every effort we make to make them love our radio “stuff” misses the point. It’s like trying to convince a baseball fan to love a team because the bases are 90 feet apart.

It’s not about Hercules and the Chicken Fat People’s new CD or concert tour. It’s not about which artist won what award. It’s not about 52 minutes of continuous music, 5 in a row, fewer interruptions, or more this or less that.

mypostseasonTake a walk through ‪#‎Mypostseason‬ on Instagram. You’ll see very few pictures of baseball players, and even fewer of runs, hits, and errors. What you will see are lots of happy people with their friends celebrating and having a splendid ole time at the ballpark, proudly wearing their team’s gear.

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.

“We buy what we buy to remind ourselves – and tell the world around us – who we are. We even choose our service providers based on how closely they mirror the way we would run their company. We’re attracted to reflections of ourselves. A salesperson points out this reflection, “That’s you, isn’t it?” and then gives the intellect the facts it needs to justify the purchase. Win the heart and the mind will follow.” Roy Williams