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.

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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.

Tommy Kramer Tip #185 – Intimacy, And How To Get It (A Team Show Tip)

Intimacy is the most unique ingredient in a team show, because often what works against it is that a team’s individual roles get “assigned” – or at least defined – by the PD or Consultant.  Sometimes, in trying to stick to those definitions, intimacy just drops off the radar screen.

In reality, the roles don’t matter when it comes to this particular quality.

Every great show has Intimacy – and the more THAT element stands out, the stronger the team will be as a whole.

Here’s the tricky part:  The Strategy is to reveal.  But the Tactic is to not compete with or impede that happening.  If you don’t know how to prep, but still be largely spontaneous, you might want to get some help with that.  As Pierce Brosnan said in ‘Mama Mia’, “It’s only the rest of your life.”

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

The Right Stuff

“There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier.”
~(opening to the movie “The Right Stuff”)

When you approach the sound barrier there is a sudden increase in aerodynamic drag and the plane buffets around.  For Chuck Yeager, and the others, it must have been some experience.  It was a change they wanted, but I’ll bet there were some too frightened to push through.  Change can feel dangerous.  Some of the test pilots of the 50s thought you couldn’t send someone into space and back without being “spam in a can.”

We’re feeling the bumps, jinks, and aerodynamic drag of seismic changes in media, driven by an even bigger change in generations.  It’s uncomfortable, disruptive and even frightening.  The world, as we baby boomers knew it, is evolving but that’s no worse than what the Greatest Generation, who fought in World War II, had to adapt to with us.  Funny, they thought Boomers would be the end of America, but here we are.  Things will change, but at the same time the world will go on.

We all have our areas where change seems impossible, there’s nothing wrong or unusual with that, unless it freezes us into inaction.  Change is happening all around us every day.  The key is the response to change – how we humans handle the change.  There are basically three responses: we fool ourselves and ignore or refuse change, we can adapt to change, or we can be one of those rare people who get ahead of and lead change.

The question we should be answering is not about change, it should be how we’ll adapt to change, or maybe even lead change.

Frost Advisory #340 – Who Are The Real Leaders In Your Organization? A Perspective For The New Year

You probably work with them every day. People who live in the past. Fearful of change.

Their fossilized mantra is, “We’ve never done it that way.”  Their reaction to innovative programming ideas is, “That doesn’t sound like us.”

That’s driving while looking in the rear view mirror stuff, don’tcha know.

That observation probably doesn’t surprise you.  But this one may.

It’s the cry of the pessimist.

In essence they are saying what has happened in the past is better than what could happen in the future.

“Optimism is the ability to focus on where we are going, not where we are coming from.  Leaders own the optimism. Leaders inspire us ahead.”
~Simon Sinek


A decade ago our home sustained some minor hurricane damage that prompted some remodeling.  Despite the sawdust and scaffolding, despite the inconvenience of not being able to access the kitchen and a bathroom for a time, the architect kept reminding us to how beautiful things would look when the construction was done.

“There is an inexorable link between an organization’s vision and it’s appetite for improvement.”
~Andy Stanley

To find the real leaders in your organization, regardless of titles, look for the optimists.  They are the ones who believe in the future.

Tommy Kramer Tip #184 – No Excuses

It seems like one of the main themes of life in the 21st century is dodging accountability.  I see this all the time, where a talent needs to hear something in order to improve, but if it’s not sugar-coated or paired with pleasant compliments first, they reject it simply because it wasn’t delivered gift-wrapped like they wanted.

So rather than working on getting better, they pout, and think that complaining about it or giving off a wounded vibe will buy them some time.  Yeah, right.  Time to stand still.

If you’re the talent, you should never settle for this.  If you’re not learning more, you’re going backwards.

As a programmer, never let a talent point the finger at the boss or the coach.  Give them a homework assignment instead, like listening to a station or specific air talent they can learn from.  Don’t ever mollycoddle the notion of not trying to get better EVERY DAY.

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

Ridiculously In Charge!

“Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.”
~Robert Louis Stevenson


I’ve been reading Boundaries For Leaders by Henry Cloud, great book about growing a culture of leadership.  In it, he talks about a leader he was talking to who was complaining about the culture around him.  Cloud kept asking questions about why these things were happening, which led the leader to realize the culture was up to him!  Finally, the leader was in charge… ridiculously in charge.

Leaders and managers spend a lot of time complaining about how their workplace operates without ever realizing that they are the ones who can fix it.  I won’t give you all the details of the book, but two of the principles that will allow you to be ridiculously in charge are what you create and what you allow.

What you create is based on what you aspire to see, the culture you create (intentional or not), the goals you set, the strategy you employ and the leadership you demonstrate.  These are usually the things we want.

What you allow are the things you don’t want to happen, but seem to anyway.  It’s the things that happen because you don’t work against them.  If you never say anything to people about coming to work late, they will come to work late.  If you allow people to snipe at each other, sniping will grow as a tactic.

Of the two, what gets the least attention is what you allow.  All those irritating things that happen – that you actually allow to happen – that you can’t understand.  The things you don’t really want to deal with, because it’ll be too tough or complicated.  Also, the things that you do yourself that only become irritating when it happens back to you.

This is one of the easiest to understand books about leadership that I’ve ever seen.  Don’t expect to breeze through it, some parts are more difficult than others.  You’ll also want to go slow enough give yourself time to absorb it.

One reason I love it is because it challenged me, but then gave me simple, doable answers.  We can all improve our leadership skills, even if we’re only leading ourselves.  This could be one of the biggest answers to a challenge you’ll find this year.


Frost Advisory #339 – Year In Review – Another Programming Lesson From Facebook

In case you’re not sure what kind of year you’ve had, the mad scientists at Facebook are stepping up to help with an unsolicited montage of photos from one’s own Facebook posts.  My Year in Review highlights include a photo of me with a tree, me with a dog, and me with a 25-foot-tall Texas flag.

After peaking at a few others I’m glad they’ve left out political rants, photos of food, and close-ups of injured body parts (i.e., mostly what’s really on Facebook posts).

The most frequent comments to Year in Review tend to be, or “We had fun doing that!”, or “Where is the photo of me?”  In other words, people reacted based upon their own connection to the post (or lack of).

Facebook Review

ATTENTION is driven by RELEVANCE.  And RELEVANCE is the basis for connection.

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

What photos would be on your station’s Year in Review?  And would your listeners care?

Tommy Kramer Tip #183 – Recycling Material

I get asked a lot about whether or not to recycle something within a show.  Almost everybody seems to think it’s okay, but it’s really not.  Here’s why:

Because you’ll never do something as well a second time.  Or you’ll do it well the second time after having done it poorly the first time.  Unless you’re one of the greatest voice actors in the world, you’ve only got one really good performance in you.  Live with it.  You may not want to hear this, but artistically, you want to burn material like jet fuel, and keep coming up with more things to do – every show.  Recycling the same bit a couple of hours later actually clogs up the creative process.

Note:  You CAN recycle a Subject.  But come up with a new “camera angle” the second time, so it’s not just you on autopilot.

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