Frost Advisory #359 – We’ve Never Done It That Way Before

They’ve been called the Seven Words of Death for any organization.

The first cousin to “We’ve never done it that way before” is “that doesn’t sound like us.”

I heard one general manager actually admit that he didn’t want to do a certain programming initiative because it would sound better than anything on his station.  Needless to say he got his wish; his station didn’t get better.

John Maxwell identified several reasons people use to resist change.  These three are the ones I encounter most at radio stations:

  • Routine makes people comfortable.  Since many people are habit prone anything that threatens their habits, they resist.
  • People are simply satisfied with the old ways and don’t want to change.
  • People resist change when they are threatened with the loss of something that is valuable to them.

It’s one thing when you see fear of change from disc jockey who is lazy and simply wants to repeat the schtick from his previous gig (and format), it’s another thing altogether when you see fear of change from the leader.

We all know of radio stations that sound basically the same as they did ten years ago, seeing their success through the rear view mirror.  They believe they are successful because of the list of things they have done..  They forget that once those things were innovative and distinctive.  They are the sitting ducks when new competition arrives.

“If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post.  If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution.  Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post.”
~G. K. Chesterton

Leaders, what is something your station has never done that is distinctive and would help build a bond between you and your listeners?

Go do that.

Tommy Kramer Tip #203 – Think Like A Baseball Pitcher

Last week, I did a “refresher” tip about the two most important basic ingredients – sounding real, and making sure you’re ALWAYS talking about something that’s relevant to the Listener’s life.

This time around, I want to deal with formatic basics, using a specific example: repeating things in the same ORDER over and over again.

I hear this all the time – the jock opens up with the name of the station, the artist, then the song title.  Next break, name of the station, artist, then title – just like the last break.  (This can happen with anything.  Always giving a time check or your name last, repeatedly saying “Good morning” break after break, etc.)

So here’s the deal:  You want to think like a baseball pitcher.  Never throw exactly the same pitch twice in a row.  Even if a pitcher has a 100-mile-an-hour fastball, about the second or third time he throws it at the same velocity in the same location, a major league batter is gonna send it toward the general area of Jupiter.

I DO believe that you should always say the name of the station first – it puts the “label” right out front, and you might as well get in the practice you’ll need to tell Echo or Siri to play it from now on, anyway – but even then, your inflection and pace should differ every time.  (A great way to accomplish this is to simply match the tempo or emotional vibe of the song you’re talking over or coming out of.  From there, you can change gears if you need to, but this will start you off right in the pocket.)  Then you add to that PURPOSELY switching around the order of things, or just the NUMBER of things you do, and you’ve got it.

In the bigger picture, every time you fall into habits – which will automatically take away at least a small element of surprise – you’re just treading water.  Brain mapping technology shows that even just a TINY difference makes it received as NEW information.  That’s what makes the brain NOTICE it, instead of becoming numb to it.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Frost Advisory #358 – How To Love On Your Listeners, From The Chicago Cubs

You know the story.

108 years without a World Series championship.  The lovable losers.  The “Friendly Confines” of a ballpark named after a chewing gum magnate. “Let’s Play Two” and “Holy Cow!”

When the Chicago Cubs recently received their World Series rings they did something remarkable.  Instead of inviting the typical three piece suit sponsors and local aldermen, the Cubs invited just regular ole fans to award their rings.

There was “the father whose kids all have Cub-themed names.  A cancer survivor.  A season ticket holder who saved the paper after Ernie Banks’ debut and later got him to sign it.

Calling it ‘the memory of a lifetime,’ president of baseball operations Crane Kenney said involving the fans in the ceremony was the team’s way of saying thank you for never giving up, despite the Cubs giving them ample opportunity to do so.”
~USA Today Sports

The winners were selected from more than 1,500 video nominations on Twitter using the #CubsRingBearer hashtag, which was shared more than 10,000 times overall.

How does your station make your fans feel like stars?  How do you give them an experience they’ll share with their friends?

All those times you’ve had an artist in the studio have you ever considered inviting your station’s biggest fans to sit right there next to you?  #onceinalifetime

Of those dozens of concerts your station sponsors every year, have you ever considered choosing one of your biggest fans to introduce the band?  Or to sit on stage?  Or on the front row?  Or the video board?  Or be on the post-concert show?

Have you considered inviting your most viral social media fans to join you in a pre-concert all-you-can-tweet seats so they can share about their special experience with thousands of their friends?

I reckon that 108 years of not winning gives you plenty of time to think about how to really appreciate your fans.

Tommy Kramer Tip #202 – The 2 Biggest “Basics”

In Sports, there’s a thing called “paralysis by analysis.”  It refers to your mind getting too cluttered to allow you to perform well.

In radio, whether you’re a new talent trying to find your way, or a veteran talent trying to update your skills to stay viable, it’s really easy to get too many thoughts in your head.  (In my coaching, each session almost always boils down to just one main thing, then MAYBE one other little thought to just let percolate until the next time we talk.  But no more than that.)

So let’s give you a shot in the arm today by getting back to the two biggest “basics”…

  1. The strength of your Content will determine how relevant you are.
    If what you’re talking about isn’t something that’s relevant to my life and interests, then as a listener, I’m not going to pay much attention to what you have to say.  As a matter of fact, I may just hit the button and move on to something else, not even remembering who you are or what station I just heard.
  2. Your coming across as a real person instead of just “a disc jockey” will determine how engaging you are.
    “Personality” isn’t usually about inventing some false front or alter ego.  It’s about selecting the best VERSION of yourself to put on the air, so hopefully, I’ll want to come back and hear you again, or listen longer.  This involves some upper level voice acting skills and quite a few specific techniques.  It rarely ever just comes naturally.

If you really cultivate these two most important basic areas, your ceiling is unlimited.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

 

Volume 2 – Spring Cleaning Guide: Music

Cleaning your music programming

Last time we talked about your messaging, now let’s do some music cleaning.  It’s easy to “set it and forget it” when it comes to your music, so let’s get back in there and take a look at how we have everything set up.  Here are a few simple things you can do that can make a huge difference.

Volume 2:  Music

  • Back up your database before you do anything.  Learn from my mistakes when I didn’t do it!
  • Look at the coding of your active library.  Do you agree with how your songs are coded for tempo, type, and sound codes?  Are there any songs without codes or blank fields?  If so, code them if you are using a rule for them.  If they aren’t, you’ll probably find them playing way more than they should.  Your music software is only as good as what you tell it to do.
  • Does your rule setup get you to your stations “sound formula?”  Run analysis on your sound codes and see if the sound code percentages match the goals of your stations sound formula.
  • Are your highest testing songs playing the most?  If you don’t update your research fields in your scheduler, at least look at your Top-30 most played songs and plot out the research scores for them. If they aren’t playing the most, it’s time get under the hood and find out why.  Also, take 5-song snapshots of some sample hours and add up the research scores for that sweep.  Are they consistent or do you have some quarter-hours set up to not expose your highest testing songs?
  • We see some stations playing medium currents in morning drive.  Mornings aren’t the best time to introduce unfamiliar songs to the audience.  Swap it out with a high testing recurrent category or power gold.  You play fewer songs in morning drive, so make sure you are playing only the best ones.
  • Run a most frequently played report for your artists.  We have a core of hugely successful artists with a lot of songs throughout multiple categories.  Are their songs in secondary categories playing more than in the power categories?  It may mean packeting the lower testing songs within the secondary category or have your software auto-platoon those songs every couple of weeks.  Remember, if you are playing one of these artists as a “heavy” you should expect to see their other songs playing less than before, no biggie.
  • Run an audit or scheduling summary report to see which songs aren’t being scheduled.  See why they are being dropped and why you have unscheduled positions.  You may only need a tweak on some of the songs to help your scheduler out, you may find something that just wasn’t coded correctly.
    • The goal of scheduling music should never be to get zero unscheduled songs!  The goal is to make sure your music fits your strategic plan and that it gives you the best sound possible.
  • Make sure your category counts don’t divide into 24.  Categories with 6, 8, or 12 songs will stack up in the same hours if you run a 24-hour format (my math skills don’t go much higher than that… so I’ll stop here).
  • Check your drop positions and how those songs are actually being dropped.  Automation can wreak havoc on rotations within categories.  Do you have way more drop positions than you actually need?  Are power songs being dropped?  Are you just overscheduling because it makes it easier on automation?  If you are dropping a lot of songs, does your automation auto-reconcile or are you reconciling your logs daily to make sure those songs get back into the proper order?
  • Maybe the most important point, does each quarter-hour on your station actually sound like the station should?  Does that snapshot have the right balance?  Does it flow well with tempo?  Does it sound too much alike in too many places?

We could dig much deeper into your audio architecture, but this is a good start for simple cleanup purposes.  I hope this helps you get your station ready for the spring ahead!

Please reach out to me if you have any questions or suggestions at tj@goodratings.com.  If you’d like to get these updates weekly, would you please sign up for TJ’s Take.

Easter Creativity

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world.  But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
~Walt Disney.

First of all, Happy Easter, He is risen.

Ever get into a discussion of creativity with one of those, “I’m the creative one around here,” or “all creativity comes from one department?”

Well, it’s wrong.  Creativity and creative people are all around you.  I’m fortunate enough to work in a place heavily populated with creativity, as this video about Easter shows.

The author, writer, and producer, Mark Ornelas isn’t in radio programming or marketing, but his creativity and communication skills are unmistakable.

When it comes to creativity, my mind always wanders over to Walt Disney.  The man was not only creative, but he was so “systematically.”  He established a framework of producing creativity through the lens of three roles.

The Dreamer has the visionary, big picture role.  This is where ideas start.

The Realist is the one who thinks constructively and devises an action plan for the vision.

The Critic (the most familiar role) tests the idea, looks for problems and unintended consequences.

The best ideas come when all three roles are present, but that’s not what typically happens.  If the roles are completely separate instead of a continuum, they fight each other.  Some say that all three roles can be handled by one person, but I know more people who think they are that person than are.  The best creativity necessitates all three roles being involved.

So one of three things happens.  We tilt to one role or the other roles, and miss the totality, bringing about a “good idea” that goes nowhere.  Or we outsource our creativity and innovation to people who have convinced us they are that three-in-one person.  Lastly, we just stop being creative – we give up on even trying to be more creative.

Creativity isn’t a department or a person, and it’s not a collection of good ideas that, in the end, don’t “put points on the scoreboard” at all.  They’re just cool ideas.

Mark and his video showed me that creativity isn’t that elusive, it’s right under our noses if we look for it.

Frost Advisory #357 – Easter Sunday And A Lesson From The Umbrella Man

I arrived at Easter Sunday church during a torrential Florida downpour.  Streets were flooding and the church parking lot looked like it could host a water ski tournament.

As I jumped out of my car and headed for the church building I was greeted by a friendly young man in rain gear carrying an umbrella.  He greeted me with a paradoxical sunny disposition and walked me from my car to the covered walk way.  He then ran off to greet the next apprehensive still-dry visitor.

No message from the pulpit that Easter morning could have conveyed their welcome attitude as much as the selfless act from the man with the umbrella.

“To move an audience, especially a diverse audience, from where they are to where you want them to be requires common ground.  If you want me to follow you on a journey, you have to come get me.  The journey must begin where I am, not where you are or where you think I should be.”
~Andy Stanley

To grow you must leave the comfort of your station, run out to the new listener with an umbrella and say, “Welcome!”; meet them where they are, understand their interests and values, and communicate to them in their language.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  But more often than not we simply aren’t willing to get wet.

John Maxwell said, “People will not always remember what you said.  They will not always remember what you did.  But they will always remember how you made them feel.”

Tommy Kramer Tip #201 – What TV Can Learn From Radio, And Vice-Versa

You would think that TV and Radio are like brothers or cousins, each putting out their product with an all-encompassing view of what the experience is like from the viewer’s or listener’s perspective.

And you would be wrong.

In reality, TV doesn’t care enough (if at all) about SOUND.  In my experience of coaching many television air talents, it’s pretty much all about what it LOOKS like.  The end result is usually a bunch of talking heads reading words from teleprompters that real people would never say in an actual conversation.  (“The alleged suspect was apprehended” instead of “they caught the guy.”)  But the time they could use to rewrite it gets spent on their hair and makeup.

Radio, for the most part, doesn’t care enough about the PICTURES it’s creating.  Sure, the best talents are all about “word pictures,” but way too often nowadays, in the era of voice-trackers that don’t even live in the market the station is in, they just put a “smile” in their delivery and read things.  Ick.

If TV personalities thought more about the WORDS they’re saying, they’d be more three-dimensional.  And if radio personalities thought more about creating a PICTURE in the listener’s mind instead of just giving information, they’d draw that listener closer every single day.

Just because you’re ON doesn’t mean that people are actually paying attention to you.  You EARN that.  Or not.  Your choice.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Volume 1 – Spring Cleaning Guide: Messaging

Spring Cleaning

Spring has arrived!  Yes, the spring book is at hand (for those of us who follow such things).  It’s a good time to freshen things up whether you play the ratings game or not.  Here are a few things to review and give your station that clean lemony smell!

Volume 1:  Messaging

  • When is the last time you’ve listened to your station, I mean really listened?  Get out of the station for a day and hear what the station really sounds like.  Take notes on everything you hear from the imaging, the music, the promotions, the processing, and the talk.
  • Is your message clearly defined?  If you are “safe for the whole family,” does your imaging support that position or did it get sidetracked into secondary messages?
  • How often is that message being heard each hour?  Count the times per hour that you identify the station as well as how many times you mention your primary position.
  • Have you spread yourself too thin by doing too much?  How many competing messages are we running that are asking something from the audience?  Too many “asks” may mean nobody is hearing any of them any longer.
  • Have you cleaned out old imaging or imaging tied into a certain season?  No more winter weather liners or imaging about roasting by an open fire.  Sound like now, not then.
  • While we’re at it, are your stations benchmarks still relevant or just “something we’ve always done?”
  • Lastly, does your station sound like your community or could you drop it in any town in the country?  Challenge yourself to write emotionally and for your unique area.

Next:

Volume 2: cleaning up your audio architecture… often known as your music.

Please reach out to me if you have any questions or suggestions at tj@goodratings.com.  If you’d like to get these updates weekly, would you please sign up for TJ’s Take.

Frost Advisory #356 – The Search For The Silver Bullet

We added a new jingle package and our ratings went up!

We ran that new promotion and our ratings went down.

I know of a general manager that wanted to change the shifts of the deejays based upon weekly or monthly ratings.  I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP, as Dave Barry would say.

Our minds crave simplicity.  We crave the Silver Bullet.

“People are drawn to black and white opinions because they are simple, not because they are true.  Truth demands serious effort and thought.”
~Donald Miller

Correlation v. causation

“Every time we see a link between an event or action with another, what comes to mind is that the event or action has caused the other.”

That’s causation.

On the other hand “correlation is an action or occurrence that can be linked to another,” but “linking one thing with another does not always prove that the result has been caused by the other.”
www.differencebetween.net

Our desire for simplicity drives us to conclude that one thing causes another simply because they occurred at the same time.

Our biases cause us to value things we know, mostly things inside the radio station, and to undervalue what we don’t know, mostly things outside the station.

Successful radio stations strive not for answers that are simple, but answers that are true.

But, darn it, that demands effort and thought.