Frost Advisory #294 – Ted Cruz and Your Radio Station

Watching the last few presidential debates reminds me of being in Mrs. Lay’s 5th grade class.  We had that know-it-all that nobody liked, that smart science-brain kid that was painfully shy, and that loud-mouthed bully that picked fights on the playground with a girl named Megan.  Or was it Kelly?  (I don’t think I was considered one of those three, but I did achieve the distinction of being the first to get zits.  And the last to get rid of them!)

“Nobody will listen to you unless they sense that you like them.  If a person senses that you do not like them, that you do not approve of their existence, then your religion and your political ideas will all seem wrong to them.  If they sense that you like them, then they are open to what you have to say.”  Donald Miller

They say that Ted Cruz has a 43 percent unfavorable rating, and that’s even after adding a few jokes in the last debate to improve his likability.  43 percent!  Jeepers, that’s higher than Larry Musselwhite in my fifth grade class!  And Larry didn’t smell very good.

By the way, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Rand Paul, and Donald Trump all have a similar favorability gap, according to

Think of the last few presidents.  Obama (when elected).  Clinton (even after you know what).  Reagan!  Jeepers, he was like a movie star.  They were all likable, at least to enough someones.

“We resist being influenced by people we don’t know or don’t trust.  We are open to the influence of those whom we trust or whom we perceive have our best interests at heart.  Trust requires common ground.  Trust requires empathy.”  Andy Stanley

If being likable and sounding friendly are the starting points for being effective, shouldn’t we in Christian radio pay more attention to connecting emotionally and relating to people’s lives?

I recently heard a promo for a daddy/daughter dance that shared the date, time, and location, but little else.  Nothing about the impact of a dad on a daughter’s life, the importance of spending one-on-one time with your kids, and the power of a role model.  Downright unfriendly, you could say.


Consider this:

Buy some pizza and gather your teammates to build a “friendly” vernacular for your station’s brand.  Then make sure every recorded promo, every live mention, and every digital thingamajig on your website utilizes those words to help make your station friendly and more effective.

After all, not everyone can be as funny as Ted Cruz!

Tommy Kramer Tip #139 – Learn from Steven Wright

A couple of tips ago, I quoted several comedians to illustrate how ‘camera angles’ and vocabulary go hand-in-hand to shape memorable thoughts.  One of them was Steven Wright.  Here are just a few more examples of his brilliance:

  • “I remember when the Candle Shop burned down.  Everybody stood around singing ‘Happy Birthday.'”
  • “If at first you don’t succeed… then skydiving definitely isn’t for you.”
  • “Sponges grow in the ocean.  This bothers me.  How deep would it be if they didn’t?”
  • “It doesn’t matter what temperature the room is.  It’s always room temperature.”
  • “My friend has a baby.  I’m writing down all the noises the baby makes, so later I can ask him what he meant.”
  • “I put instant coffee in a microwave oven and almost went back in time.”
  • “What’s another word for thesaurus?”

While it seems like funny thoughts just flow out of him like water, here’s what he says about his process:  “For every four jokes I write, one is good enough to stay (in the act).”

So here are some questions for you:

  • Do you write four punch lines for every one you use?  If not, why not?
  • Are you funnier than Steven Wright?  (I know I’m not.  Chances are you’re not, either.)
  • Is it because you’re lazy?  Or is it because you think “That’s good enough”?
  • Because “good enough”… never is.

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

Frost Advisory #293 – More Neil Diamond Facts Coming Up Next Hour

To tease, or not to tease. That may not be the question.

Most teases I hear are self-indulgent attempts to manipulate un-seen passive consumers to do what you want them to do.  That, my friends, is a waste of time.  Your listeners are not simply consumers, but people with real life and real hopes and dreams.  We would do well to consider their lives as our frame of reference.

Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”, the best selling non-fiction book of all time other than the Bible, begins with these four words:

It’s not about you.

Offering your listeners something relevant and compelling for which to stay tuned is a noble quest.  Trying to manipulate listeners for an additional PPM meter-minute is a waste of time.

“More Neil Diamond facts coming up next hour.”  I actually heard this on the radio. I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP, as Dave Barry would say.


We in radio have a lot to learn from social media, which has the algorithms and nifty-difty cyber brain power to monitor what entices people to “click through”.

Just in the last hour on social media I’ve seen:

“We’ve selected a group of people for a brief survey.”  Nope.

“Your marriage is doomed without this three minute conversation.”  Yep.

“Three easy ways to help keep your kids from getting sick this winter.”  Certainly.

Here is a practical idea:

Consider having your air personalities keep track of the social media posts that entice them enough to “click through.”  Then discuss why and how they can emulate that on the air.  Bonus tip: It’s easier to get people to do something again than it is to get them to do it the first time.  That’s why tuning in for “the next time to win” in a contest, or tuning back tomorrow at this same time for more ways to keep your family healthy can be effective ways to create additional listening occasions.

As my brilliant friend Tommy Kramer says, “Radio stations keep trying to manipulate or monopolize the listener’s time against his/her will.  But the listener is in charge, and growing more used to the ‘on demand’ part of life every day. When you only promote things that actually matter to the listener, believe me, you’ll stand out in the crowd.”

Tommy Kramer Tip #138 – John Cleese on Editing

Obviously, being able to edit yourself is a crucial ingredient in whether or not anyone wants to listen to you.

Rather than give you the standard radio clichés, or quoting statistics from some study, let’s go to an outside source, John Cleese, former Monty Python member and the writer of “A Fish Called Wanda”. (He also wrote and starred in maybe the best sitcom of all time, Fawlty Towers.)

In his book “So, Anyway…” Cleese is talking about a show he had co-written in college that he later took to Australia, New Zealand, and eventually, New York. As you can see, he’s very modest about it, but what he learned FROM it is important:

“Our show had definitely gotten better since its Cambridge incarnation. It was now only sixty minutes long (down from two hours), teaching us that if you have an average show, and you can dump half of it, it doesn’t get a bit better – it gets a lot better. In fact, there seems to be a basic, rather brutal rule of comedy: ‘The shorter, the funnier.’ I began to discover that whenever you could cut a speech, a sentence, a phrase, or even a couple of words, it makes a greater difference than you would ever expect.”

Every word counts. Most disc jockeys spend them like pennies. (And Talk show hosts seem to think that the more words you throw at something, the more effective it is. They’re wrong, of course.)
Spend words like twenty-dollar bills instead. The fewer words you can use to tell a story, explain something, or make a point, the better…and the bigger the impact.


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

Frost Advisory #292 – People Don’t Push the Button on their Values

The scoreboard can tell us a lot.  We look to see the inning or the quarter.  Perhaps to see who’s at bat or who’s ahead.  Sometimes the errors or the fouls.  But no one considers the scoreboard important enough to take its picture.

Unless of course…


…you see yourself on it!

Your station is like that.

The music is nice, but Spotify and Mortify have it in major doses.  Traffic reports?  It’s on the 4’s, the 10’s and the 12’s up and down the dial.  Weather?  I have an app for that.

No, your radio station has to offer something else.  Something unique.  Something your listeners value.  Something that screams, “That’s me!”

Listeners may push the button because of a song they don’t like or irrelevant chit chat…

But people don’t push the button on their values.

*Inspired by my talented friends Kevin Isaacs and Dave Arthur.

Tommy Kramer Tip #137 – The Hammer and Chisel

To do great radio, you have to Entertain.  In its simplest form, this just means that what you say has to stand out.

Here’s the “secret formula” – two ingredients: (1) camera angles, and (2) vocabulary.

Those two things are the hammer and the chisel.  They carve out of life specific shapes and descriptions that weren’t there before.

It starts with a camera angle that isn’t obvious; something that’s slightly askew or unique to you.  The vocabulary brings it to full bloom.  Here are ten great examples from some of the greatest comic minds in history:

George Carlin: “One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.”

Jonathan Winters: “If God had really intended man to fly, He’d have made it easier to get to the airport.”

Rodney Dangerfield: “I told my dentist ‘My teeth are going yellow.’ He told me to wear a brown tie.”

Robin Williams: “If it’s the Psychic Network, why do they need a phone number?”

Woody Allen: “Some guy hit my fender. I told him to ‘Be fruitful, and multiply’…but not in those words.”

Steve Martin: “Don’t have sex, man.  It leads to kissing, and pretty soon you have to start talking to them.”

Jerry Seinfeld: “That’s the true spirit of Christmas – people being helped by people other than me.”

Louis C. K.: “I don’t stop eating when I’m full.  The meal isn’t over when I’m full.  It’s over when I hate myself.”

Chris Rock: “Black people dominate sports in the United States.  20 percent of the population; 90 percent of the Final Four.”

Steven Wright: “I have a paper cut from writing my suicide note.  It’s a start.”

Some people think these skills can’t be taught.  That, of course, isn’t true.  There IS a way to cultivate these skills.  Call me, and we’ll start.

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

Frost ADvisory #291 – The Stuff That Doesn’t Matter

Odd, isn’t it?  In a format that MATTERS more than any other, we spend so much of our time talking about stuff that doesn’t.

Recently I’ve heard…

The tour dates and future music projects of an artist I’ve never heard of.

The details of a traffic problem that I wasn’t in.

A contest where if I text them the thing (twenty words or less) and I’ll be put in a drawing with all the other people that have texted them the thing (twenty words or less) and they’ll do a random drawing at 7:20 in a few weeks with Flip and Flap of the Flip and Flap Morning Show to determine the finalist that will be in the subsequent drawing for the thing.  Jeepers!  Who wrote your promo?  The IRS?

A company’s sales accomplishments with no connection of how it mattered to their customers.


Deejays that talk incessantly about things that happened in their lives that listeners can’t relate to.  Newscasts with stories that sound newsy but aren’t relevant.  Stations that position themselves with mindless slogans that are all about the station, not about what is meaningful to the listener.

Here is a challenge for the new year:

Listen to another radio station in the format for one hour and write down the things you hear that don’t matter.  You’ll be amazed!  (This exercise is impossible to do with your own radio station because it’s too familiar to you.)

When Michelangelo was asked how he created the statue of David, he supposedly responded, “I just took away everything that didn’t look like David.”

So, if you want your radio station to matter… you can start by simply taking away everything that doesn’t.

Tommy Kramer Tip #136 – The Door is Open

A concept that gets bandied about a lot these days is being “transparent” on the air.  I understand what that’s intended to mean, but “transparent” is not a term I use.

Rather than telling air talent to be “transparent”, I tell them to simply be Open and Revealing.  Being TOTALLY transparent is not always a good idea, actually.  Some things shouldn’t be shown.  Some things about you might be too revealing.  Some might be negatives.  Some might be boring.

Even the so-called “reality” shows on TV are highly edited.  (Indeed, to me, “Survivor” is the best-edited show in television history.  An editor’s clinic, really.  Think about it: they shoot 24/7 to get one hour—and that’s with commercials.)

I’d sum it up this way: Anytime you’re on the air, the door is open, but remember, it’s a door to an entertainer’s life; not a door to an accountant’s life.  I’ll bet nobody’s ever asked to come over to your house and watch you fill out your tax returns.

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

Frost Advisory #290 – Gentlemen, This is a Football!

As the new year begins it’s easy to get bogged down in the multitude of details of programming a radio station; the politics, the personalities, and the to-do list that never seems to get to-done.  And yet, there are the more advanced concepts of focus and targeting, serving your core listener, developing the talent, connecting emotionally, and developing a meaningful brand.

But at its core good programming is relatively simple.
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi began every training camp with these words, “Gentlemen, this is a football!”, which underscores the importance of knowing the basics.


Here are the programming basics:

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

If you’re a GM make sure your PD is accountable in these areas.   If you’re a PD, use this to prioritize.

If you kick off 2016 by getting these things right, then you’re in a better position to begin working on the other stuff that can make your station remarkable!

Happy New Year!