Category Archives: TJ’s Take

Volume 3 – The Great Nemesis

“Good is the enemy of great.  And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.”
~James C. Collins, “Good to Great:  Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t

You may be coming off a good fundraiser, a good monthly, or a good station event that makes you feel pretty good about your station.  Well, you now have the challenge of making those good things great.

While listening to the radio recently, I heard how an NHL coach doesn’t consider good to be… well… good enough.

The Columbus Blue Jackets skated their way into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for just the third time in their 17-year history.  They learned the hard way that getting there and going to the next round are two different things.

Their record-setting season had a brutal reward, drawing the defending (and eventual) champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the first-round.

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella knows that if they want to continue improving, they can’t be happy with just making the playoffs.

After losing the series, I listened to his post game interview.  He quoted James C. Collins, “Good To Great:  Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t.

“Good is the enemy of great,” he said repeatedly.  “It is going to be more difficult because it takes more layers of skin.  It takes more layers of mental toughness.  Listen, I’m thrilled we had an opportunity to play in the playoffs… the toughest part is coming because we had some guys that had great regular season.  We better be really careful to say, ‘We had a really good year.  We made the playoffs.’  Yeah, we were out in five games.  It’s not good enough.”

Our format is still young in most markets and still unfamiliar to many folks.  Thankfully, many stations aren’t settling with where they are.  Many CCM stations are becoming good, and a few are becoming great.

What we notice with those great stations is that they aren’t happy just making the playoffs!

The good stations sound personable and execute the basics well.  The great stations emotionally connect with her consistently.

The good stations put in a hard days work.  The great ones know the workload can keep them late some nights, but they know that extra effort will payoff.

The good stations keep their talent “in the loop.”  The great ones invest in growing their talent.  They give their talent the coaching they need, because their development is critical.

The good stations’ audio… well… they sound “good.”  The great ones won’t accept that they can’t be the best sounding station in their market.  They become great by investing in engineering and technology that makes them a market leader.

The great operators know there are plenty of good stations, but not enough great ones!

Greatness will impact lives.

Greatness will change minds.

Greatness will change the world.

We need your greatness!

Please reach out to me if you have any questions or suggestions at

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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  If you’d like to get these updates weekly, would you please sign up for TJ’s Take.

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.


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  If you’d like to get these updates weekly, would you please sign up for TJ’s Take.

Frost Advisory #332 – This Election, Leadership, and Your Radio Station

This week’s Frost Advisory is authored by my colleague T.J. Holland, a very smart fellow indeed.

“When nobody is effectively ‘in charge’, you’re bound to get more people arguing over how things should be done.”
~Dean Burnett PhD.

You may have come to expect (and accept) that every election cycle will bring more and more mudslinging.  Yet this cycle, it seems the slung mud is inside the parties nearly as much as at the opposition party.  This sort of circular firing squad mentality is becoming part of the process as well.  Almost everyday there is a series of leaked documents that expose the internal espionage inside the parties.


Thankfully, WikiLeaks hasn’t released private messages within our own organizations.

Does your workplace suffer from your own form of infighting?  This is more than a programming versus sales discussion.

It’s about separate camps forming within because of lack of vision and leaders that unite.

Infighting is part of a larger type of group psychology.  Dean Burnett commented on political infighting in his recent article in The Guardian, “Why Political Parties Fall Apart:  the Psychology of Infighting.”

Are the current crop of politicians sufficiently capable “leaders”? A reliance on presentation and spin may mean they have an easier ride from most voters, but these qualities don’t automatically make you a strong leader.  In times of uncertainty (which seems to be 24/7 at the moment) a strong leader is very important for group unity.

It’s not surprising that curbing disunity comes down to leadership that is engaged.

How often do we spin poor ratings or a lackluster fundraising effort with spin instead of addressing the underlying issues behind the results?   The conversations after the explanation usually aren’t about how everyone bought into it.

Do we accept the results of a poor internal employee survey as a need for more self-awareness and change, or do simply send out a memo to the team letting them know “they’ve been heard” (or worse, conducting a “witch hunt” to find the dissenters)?  Does this lack of directness bring unity or division from those who are targeted?

After hearing breaks that consistently miss the opportunity to connect emotionally, do we take the time to coach up talent or do we shoulder shrug and complain about not having enough hours in a day to get the job done?  Your talent ends up alienated and silos are built.  It’s better to catch them doing something right and point that out.  That’s an easy first step.

It’s so easy to throw the word around, yet it’s really a challenge to a lead.  Be in charge, as your strong leadership will be the difference between a united workplace, or overseeing a group even Julian Assange would shake his head at.