Who Can You Trust

“Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.” ~Warren Bennis


It was over 15 years ago when I sat in the GM’s office for a performance evaluation.  I thought this one would be a breeze because I’d just brought a station to number one 25-54, and then number one 12+, and we had a graduated bonus plan – the better you do the more you make.

But when we got to that point he quoted a figure that was way off from what it should have been.  When I asked him about it, he told me if he followed his own bonus agreement it would be too much money.  So I got 60% of what I should have.

I was gone from that station in 6 months.  I could no longer trust the GM in  everything going forward.

Trust is a mandatory issue when you’re working with your “boss.”  If it isn’t there you’ll question everything he or she says.  You’ll think suspiciously of everything coming from that person.

You’ve probably been in those circumstances at one time or another.  It’s an unfortunate ailment of many.  But, have you ever wondered if you’re one  of them?

Many times I see people in charge who don’t want to address an issue, especially a “people issue.”  They’ll tell a little white lie like, “You’re doing fine,” when asked about performance.  Or they may avoid talking to someone about a problem, hoping it’ll go away.  Or there are the people in charge who just don’t respect their own people.

That may seen different than the guy who looked me in the eye and said, “Too bad, this is what you’re getting,” but those little things can erode trust just as much.

A lack of integrity is a lack of integrity, no matter how small.



Frost Advisory #263 – What We Can Learn From Chick-fil-A

Sitting in a drive through will never feel the same to me again.

My new friend David Salyers showed us around The Hatch, an entire building devoted to hatching innovation. The walls were covered with photos of some of Chick-fil-A‘s best customers. (Yes! They had invited them in and actually talked to them!) What a contrast to a radio station’s walls adorned with gold records and photos of artists.

At The Hatch they study the “Points of Pain”: those points that get in the way of a great customer experience. It could be waiting in line, a menu that is difficult to read, or waiting for an order. Anything that detracts from the Chick-fil-A experience they study, and work to diminish or illuminate.

Seems like we can learn some things from Chick-fil-A. What are the points of pain for your listeners?

Is it the songs you play that your listeners don’t love or don’t know? Is it a dee jay that blabbers on about things your listener isn’t interested in? It is lengthly spot breaks, endorsements, or fundraisers that irritate? Is it promotions that are boring and conveyed with all the emotion of a legal disclaimer?

If we took a lesson from Chick-fil-A, perhaps we’d not only eat mor chikin, we’d have more listeners.


Tommy Kramer Tip #108 – Good phone calls don’t just “happen”

This tip is specifically for music radio.

Good phone calls don’t just happen; you have to create an atmosphere that fosters them. When someone opens up his/her heart or fragility to you, that’s not an accident. If they thought you’d be rude or dismissive or not really listen to them, they’d never call you. And it’s not 1995 anymore. Nowadays, the standard throwing out a topic, then saying “What do you think?” just sounds like you want the listener to do the show for you. (I call this “using the listeners as props.”) To get really good phone calls, give me something to REACT to, and you can’t keep me from telling you what I think. You don’t have to ask.

A remedial lesson: How to put a call on the air

When you run the call, just say your thing & then cut to the caller’s comment. You don’t need “Hi, how are you” stuff, and you don’t need to say something like “Darren’s on the line…” (Where else would he be, on the toaster?) or “Jennifer has an idea…” We don’t “narrate” like that in real life, and we don’t “introduce” another person’s comment at the dinner table. And by the way, no one cares about the caller’s name, unless it’s a prize winner. (In Talk Radio, however, the name does serve a couple of purposes—to distinguish one caller from another, and to mention the city or area the call is from.)

The main thing that will set you apart is if you establish a really high standard for phone calls. Just because someone calls doesn’t mean they should get on the air. Like a film editor making cuts in a movie, if it’s not great, leave it out.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Frost Advisory #262 – What Messages Are You Sending?

We spent all day in a room together. There were four of us with little in common except for the reason we were there.

One a Cincinnati Reds’ fan, one from Kansas City where I once lived, and one who worked with a buddy of mine named Jeff. Within a few minutes we had common ground and we were new friends.

Interesting, isn’t it? In relationships we build on ramps instinctively, but in our programming we assume that everyone speaks our language.

We assume they know Tobias McKeehan and would really dig two pieces of cardboard to his gig. We assume they know Jeremy Camp as much as summer camp. We assume they use ‘praise’ as a noun and ‘worship’ as a verb.

“The Curse of Knowledge”* is when those with knowledge find it impossible to even imagine what it’s like without that knowledge. Smart companies understand that blind spot so they design common ground in.

There is a reason cast members at Disney wear name tags with their home town. “You’re from Transylvania? We went there on our honeymoon!” A conversation is designed in.

You can build on ramps into the design or you can be like the church that greets its visitors in the parking lot with suspicion:


Everything we do sends a message.

“Where you consistently begin and what you consistently assume determine who consistently shows up. Why? Because your assumptions create the common ground for the journey.” Andy Stanley, Deep and Wide

Leadership Beatles’ Style


“My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs


I’ll never forget being at a Wings concert in Seattle when someone referred to the Beatles as Paul McCartney’s first backup band.  For someone who grew up listening to the early Beatles, it was astonishing.  They thought McCartney was the “front man” for the Beatles.

But let’s get past that ill-advised perspective of musical history to look at Steve Job’s idea that they were his business model.

John wrote the rock music, Paul wrote the pop music, George wrote the “deep thinking” music and Ringo just wrote fun music.  Ultimately they went their way as solo acts, but in their most creative and influential time together, they worked to each other’s strengths and controlled each other’s weakness.  Everyone got at least a track or two on the albums, and in concert they played each other’s songs.  More importantly, they seemed to respect each other’s strengths. They were a team, and the four together were larger than their individual careers.

Above all, they respected the differences in each other, and shared in each other’s strengths.

Unfortunately some of today’s key executives think they wrote all the songs of their organization’s music, and everyone else is part of the backup band. Everyone else in the executive band is some sort of problem.  If they’re Steve Jobs fans they selectively pick the ones that are egotistical, and ignore all the times he talked about a team.

It seems to me the Beatles not only accomplished more in their team era than their solo era, but also that they were happier.  That’s reflected in their movies “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!” Too bad some execs just aren’t team players.

What does it look like at your organization?  Is the executive team from the Beatles era or the Wings/Plastic Ono Band era?




Tommy Kramer Tip #107 – The Adventures of…

John Lennon once described American deejays as “Hi, I’m from nowhere,” meaning that compared to jocks in England, we all sounded alike to him, speaking in our “radio voices”.

If you think of it like an actor (which you should), there has to be some arc to you. Things have to come from something. (Great actors say their characters have to overcome something, and you should be able to sense that.)

I’ve mentioned this before, but to me, especially in the five different morning team shows I was part of, it wasn’t just “Hudson & Harrigan” or “Tommy & the Beamer,” it was “The Adventures of Hudson & Harrigan” or “The Adventures of Tommy & the Beamer”…just like the old TV show wasn’t just “Superman,” it was “The Adventures of Superman.”

Your show should be thought of (but not named) “The Adventures of…you.” Life IS an adventure. Radio should reflect that. If you don’t, you’re just that voice from nowhere.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Multi-tasking As Myth

“Juggling is an illusion… In reality, the balls are being independently caught and thrown in rapid succession… It is actually task switching. – Gary Keller

Your computer can multi-task, because technology allows it to process several things at once.  Your mind, however, can’t.  I know I’ll get some arguments from the people who think they’re multi-tasking,  but science is stacked against it.  Psychology today says, “Much recent neuroscience research tells us that the brain doesn’t really do tasks simultaneously, as we thought (hoped) it might. In fact, we just switch tasks quickly. Each time we move from hearing music to writing a text or talking to someone, there is a stop/start process that goes on in the brain.

Worse yet Hewlett-Packard was involved in a study that found, “Workers distracted by e-mail and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers.”  Technology hasn’t helped, because it allows us to never be “off,” and become a distraction in itself.  Computers, tablets and smart phones are tools to help you get more done, but not simultaneously.

So the key talent may be to switch tasks quickly without driving yourself, and those around you, crazy.  I always have several projects going at the same time, but I work on them one at a time.  In fact, I find if I really want to get something done, I get rid of all the distractions and interruptions, and focus on that one thing.

So, I wonder, is multi-tasking the dream of a leader or a characteristic of a manager?

One of the things I’m sure of is that you can’t multi-task relationships.  If you don’t focus all your attention on the person you’re talking to, you’ll lose on two fronts.  People will feel slighted and what you’re working on will suffer inattention.

Leaders will focus on the relationship, and managers will focus on the tasks.  I suggest that true leaders are more apt to give something full attention, understanding that the inspiration of the other person is more important than making them feel you’re not paying attention to them.


Frost Advisory #261 – The Top Ten Reasons Stations Aren’t Successful! Number One! (part two)

On last week’s show I reached the Casey Kasem apex counting down the top ten reasons stations aren’t successful. I slaughtered a few sacred cows and received numerous digital high-fives when I revealed what I’ve observed as the top reason:

“When I find the ego in the organization, I’ve found the problem.” Fred Smith

Ego is a result of insecurity. Insecurity ultimately comes from a lack of trust. Trust in one’s self and trust in others.

A general manager doesn’t trust his program director so he dictates music decisions, major promotions, even (e-gad) where jingles play.

A program director doesn’t trust the air talent so he implements talk limits, gives them a list of slogans to read, and burns up the studio hot line.

An air talent doesn’t trust the program director so he tries to sneak in his favorite songs, and clings to the same ole bits from a previous station.

Bud Paxson remains one of the greatest influences in my broadcast carer. You likely remember him as the founder of Home Shopping Network and PAX-TV. One of Bud’s greatest leadership traits was summed up in the words “Bring me the bad news!” He believed in dealing with problems head on. He believed he couldn’t do anything about a problem if he didn’t know about it. His attitude set the tone for a culture of candor among his closest advisors. The truth would often tramped on sensitive areas, but the organization thrived!


Program directors, do you trust your GM enough to tell him the truth, without fear of retribution?

Managers, do you trust your program director enough to let him make the programming decisions, and support him publicly even when you disagree?

Air talent, do you trust your program director enough to be open to their coaching even if it means using new muscles and thinking new thoughts?

Trust doesn’t just happen. Trust is a result of true leadership.

“Leadership is a choice. It is not a rank. I know many people at the seniormost levels of organizations who are absolutely not leaders. They are authorities, and we do what they say because they have authority over us, but we would not follow them.

You see, if the conditions are wrong, we are forced to expend our own time and energy to protect ourselves from each other, and that inherently weakens the organization. When we feel safe inside the organization, we will naturally combine our talents and our strengths and work tirelessly to face the dangers outside and seize the opportunities.” Simon Sinek

See How Does Trust Happen in Music?

Tommy Kramer Tip #106 – Answers = Power

In May of 2015, Google began running an ad that started with “a question is the most powerful force in the world.” But they couldn’t be more wrong. An ANSWER is the most powerful force in the world.

I’ve talked before about avoiding the Question form, and making Statements instead. Thinking that questions are “a powerful force” is fool’s gold. No one wants to ask a question, only to get another question in reply.
“How much are these beets?”
“How much do you think they should cost?” is not a helpful response. Great marketers know that asking the public what they want doesn’t really work, because people can only describe what they think they want in terms of what they’ve already seen. Apple didn’t ask people if they wanted an iPad. They just made them, and let the world come—rapidly—to the conclusion that this new product would make their lives easier. (And that’s why Google isn’t Apple. And by the way, what MADE Google was that you ask, and they provide the answer.)

In your Imaging, in your commercials and promos, and in your air work, give your listener an answer.

Warning: Everyone thinks he can do this, but then, at first, tends to fail miserably when he tries. Let me help you with the techniques, and we can weed this out in a hurry. I promise you that you’ll see the power of it in no time.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.


“Men are respectable only as they respect.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


No, not the Aretha song, the other r-e-s-p-e-c-t you’ve heard about so much.

Some friends and I were talking the other day about respect at work, and about how so many people seem to think it comes with a title or position.  You can be a Director, a VP, a Chief or a CEO, but people don’t really respect the position, they respect the person. And their actions.

You earn respect by what you do , how you do it, and how you treat others.  The only way you earn true respect is by showing respect to others first.  Oh yeah, and when you’re promoted or go somewhere else, you have to earn that respect all over again.  It’s not about your reputation, what you did at your last job, your resume or your new promotion.

As I’m fond of telling people, “You can’t save people from themselves.  Some will always struggle with respect, thinking that others don’t give them enough of it.  They’ll never be happy, because they never learned to give respect before getting it in return.

As the dictionary says, Respect: 1. a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.