Frost Advisory #366 – With A Little Help From My Friends

If you saw last week’s show you know that I attempted to connect Frost Advisory #365 to the 365-days-in-the-year’s worth of nuggets to help your station be more successful.   #366, then, is sort of the equivalent of leap year day, that little extra to keep the earth from falling out of its proper orbit.

Last week I also shared that my friends David Sams and Joe Battaglia have convinced me that these musings are worthy of being compiled into a little book like the kind you see handed out at airports and flea markets.  “365 ways to make your station really swell” is one of the working titles.

So, with a New York Times best seller in my future I’ve asked several of my colleagues to share how the first 365 have been helpful to their stations.  Plus, I told them if they said something nifty they might be included in my book!

A president of a major Christian network and industry legend 

“What does it mean to be in leadership?  One idea is that our job is that of Architect, not construction… Architects envision, plan an design.  Construction people are more concerned how to make the Architect’s design happen.

Are you an architect, giving your idea of what needs to happen and leaving the execution to the construction crew, are are you concentrating on both?

If both, well, let’s go watch Peter Pan together, where we’ll always be children…

(Frost Advisories) can help us understand that by accepting a leadership position, you’ve chosen to leave the life of a construction crew, and embrace the role of being an architect.”
~Alan Mason

Where radio meets academics

“As a longtime radio guy, and now a professor teaching young people the ins and outs of the communication world, I understand the value of learning and hearing different point of view… (Frost Advisories) help me focus on the important, not just the urgent and frequently unimportant, to see things with new eyes.”
~Michael Agee

A major market programmer of one of the few CCM stations to ever reach #1 6+ with one million listeners

“The Frost advisories give me the 35,000 foot view of my radio station I can’t get on my own.  They constantly challenge me to look at my radio station with a fresh set of eyes to make it better every day!”
~Mike Blakemore, The Fish Atlanta

A radio exec with a church planting background

“As a guy who came into radio from another industry, plus working in a medium sized market, plus handling all the stuff that gets thrown your was as a GM, the Frost Advisory is a 30 second reset each week that pushes me to think big picture, what really matters, and to think about RADIO, not just the ‘business.'”
~Brian Yeager, KTSY Boise, Idaho

Architect of the largest Christian radio network and Christian radio icon

“Many people think it is all about music rotations, marketing and branding. (Frost Advisories) have been teaching us for years, it’s all about the tribe.”
~Dick Jenkins

A radio Hall of Fame member, talent coach, and really good golfer

(Frost Advisories) “see past the mundane and view the brilliance in the everyday and the power to pass that learning on to those who listen.  When you’re no longer learning, you’re dead.  So while you’re still alive, read John’s book.”
~Tommy Kramer

Next week we’ll return to our regular programming.  In the meantime I welcome your ideas!

Tommy Kramer Tip #210 – More On The Caller Culture: Asking For Help

As we continue to talk about establishing a stronger, “A-level only” caller culture, let’s dive deeper into what prompts that great caller to weigh in.

“Topics and Phone Calls” has become such a boring cliché because (1) you hear it everywhere, with the same people from yesterday calling again with the same type of predictable input today, and (2) because the “topics” are dull to begin with.

So, a couple of rules for you:

Avoid “yes or no” subjects.
The first call agrees; the second call disagrees.  There’s nowhere else to go now.  Nothing surprising is likely to happen in that scenario.  Since every call past the first one has to add something new, “yes or no” subjects inevitably limit, rather than expand, where calls can take you.

Asking for help.
Rather than some generic topic, try being more open, with something that doesn’t lend itself to predictable answers – indeed, something to which there IS NO right or wrong response.  “Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I have NO CLUE what to get my wife.  Help!” will get more response than any typical “topic” could ever get, because people LOVE to give advice.  In the process of recommending something to you, the caller’s own story will inevitably come out – without soliciting “stories” at all.  That’s what makes it sound more organic.

There are many other steps to opening the portal for more meaningful, quality calls to make it onto the air.  But like always, you have to avoid doing what everyone else will do.

I’m In Charge Here and You Aren’t

“Men who speak endlessly on authority only prove they have none.”
~Gene Edwards, A Tale Of Three Kings.

“I’m in charge so I can do anything I want.”  Or, “I’m the (insert title here), and you should do what I say.”

It’s a type of mantra from some managers – not leaders – who see their job as continually criticizing the person and not the performance.  There are a lot of reasons for this, trying to tear others down so they can build themselves up, finding criticism easier than being positive, and, of course, plain old narcissism.

They’re easy to spot when walking through an organization.  They’ll tell you of their latest success, which is usually a success of one of their people, and their office often screams, “I’m important!”

They’re also the single biggest reason for turnover.  And remember, the best people leave first.

I feel sorry for these people.  They’re often very unhappy people, and may never know the happiness that comes with being positive, encouraging and building people up instead of tearing them down.

Frost Advisory #365 – To Teach Is To Learn Twice

“Life has a peculiar feel when you look back on it that it doesn’t have when you’re actually living it.  It’s as though the whole thing were designed to be understood in hindsight, as though you’ll never know the meaning of your experiences until you’ve had enough of them to provide reference.”
~Donald Miller

365 weeks ago I penned Frost Advisory #1, a fairly presumptuous title considering I had no idea if I could come up with #2, much less 365 of them.

For years, my pal and mentor Alan Mason had insisted that I start writing.  I’m not sure whether he thought I had something worth saying or he figured that would keep me quiet for a few hours.  Frankly, after reading Alan’s stuff for years I was just flat out intimidated.   It felt like Robert Frost telling me, “You should write poetry!”, or Donald Trump saying, “You should Tweet!”  Then it got worse.

As the inevitable #365 loomed closer my friends Joe Battaglia and David Sams began urging me to compile them into a cute little book like the kind that people have next to their toilets – perfect product placement some may mutter.

The process of writing every week for over seven years has challenged me to think through strategic concepts, consider new ideas, and to look for real life applications.  It has forced me to challenge my own biases and experiences, and to attempt to communicate, whether to the novice or the expert, how these ideas can transform a radio station.   In other words, it has forced me to think about what I really think.

“I never know what I think about something until I read what I’ve written on it.”
~William Faulkner, winner of the Nobel Prize

Much to my surprise I have been the real learner through this process.  I’ve corresponded with people literally all over the world that I would have never known.  I’ve walked through radio stations and convention hallways where complete strangers have said, “Hey, you’re the guy that writes that stuff.”   Many have responded with their own ideas and experiences and helped me think through things from their perspective.

With that in mind I’ve asked some folks in a variety of roles to share their perspective on how the next 365 Frost Advisories might be helpful to you, whether you’re an executive, programmer, or air talent.

A new general manager

“As a new GM, learning to navigate the programming waters with my PD, these golden nuggets of information have been an invaluable tool.  They have been helpful on both the programming and sales side of the business.”
~Jeff Mitchell, KLTY, Dallas, Texas

A major market programmer

“So much of my performance as a leader seems to just come down to clearing away the distractions until I have a clearer perspective.  So many things pull at me, competing for a share of my mind and attention. Frost Advisories provide clarity.  I read them to remind me of what’s most important, what’s true (even though it may be counter-intuitive), what’s most beneficial, and to help me identify things that are just distractions or are less important.”
~Ty McFarland, KSBJ, Houston, Texas

A sales executive

“Frost’s advisories are like great recipes for an excellent meal.  John is an architect of infusing programming principles with real life stories.  It is motivating and inspiring to learn the technical side of programming and how it relates to daily life with a listening audience.”
~Segar Kannan, Salem Media, Portland, Oregon

A nationally syndicated air talent

“Everything John writes is genuinely – and literally – en-couraging.  It gives me courage.  Courage to keep going.  Courage to do better.  Courage to love my listener.  I’ve always needed that, and I will always need that.”
~Brant Hansen

President of a major media ministry

“I find the real value in John’s insights is not just in reading them, but in applying them to our station.   After I read the Frost Advisory, I say two things – ‘That is great perspective’ and then ‘Are we doing what he says?'”
~Tim McDermott, KSBJ Media, Houston, Texas

Next week I’ll share Frost Advisory #366, sort of a Leap Year-like version of how more really smart leaders use these ideas to benefit their organizations.  I welcome your perspective.   Who knows?  You might even make my book!

Tommy Kramer Tip #209 – More and Better Callers: The Starting Point

In the last tip, we took a look at setting a standard – a high one – for callers. It’s only fitting that a caller has to EARN his or her being on the air, and if you settle for average or typical calls, that’s just adding more water to the Kool-Aid. It won’t help the taste.

So okay, the goal is to create a stronger “caller culture”. The easiest starting place is the one people seem to just take for granted: Contest calls.

Here’s what needs to be addressed:

We don’t treat people like humans.
We turn people into numbers. “You’re caller number 12.” (I always hope someone will say “Oh, yeah? Well you’re idiot disc jockey number 2.”)

Groundhog Day in Loserville.
“Aww…well that’s not right, but thanks for trying.” Over and over again, until, like the Bataan Death March, we finally hear a winner. Honestly, about the third time I hear this, I just start to feel sorry for the hopeful people who called in, only to be disappointed. Why design a contest that airs tons of wrong guesses? The Secret Sound or the Scrambled Song contests were cute, once, but so was Brylcreem (a sludge-like goo used to slick back a guy’s hair in the 1950s).

The Rules…oh Lord, the rules.
“First, go to the southwest corner at the top of the twenty-story City Hall building, and jump. On the way down, wave at the clown in the 12th floor window, then flip your body around and upside down. If you’re the lucky person who lands with the most discernible body parts inside the chalk circle that we’ve drawn on the sidewalk, the surviving members of your family are automatically entered into a drawing to win 4 half-day passes to the Crazy Goat Park in Neptune, South Dakota!” (Bellybutton lint and ejected fluids do not count as official body parts. Go to our Facebook page for other restrictions.)

Start tomorrow with simpler contests, straightforwardly won by people with names, with genuine happiness in promoting it, doing it, and being honestly happy for the winner. That’ll guarantee you some really great phone callers.