Tag Archives: radio

When The Other Person Is Always Wrong

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”
~Michael Jordan

The official meaning of the term “wrongspotting” is zeroing in on the part of the feedback we get during performance conversations that we consider factually wrong, then fixating on it.  That happens a lot.   People aren’t prepared to hear something that doesn’t fit in their self-perception and using that something to negate all of the feedback.  It happens all the time.

There’s even a word for it:  Confirmation Bias – Tending to see your perspective, and defending your ideas, as a reason not to believe anything else.  Even though it’s apparent to others.

Tommy Kramer Tip #211 – Seinfeld’s Three Rules of Living

There’s an HBO Special called “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast.”  It’s about people 90 years of age or more that are still vibrant and productive, featuring Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, TV Producer Norman Lear, and many others – and, with occasional comments, Jerry Seinfeld.

At one point late in the special, Jerry lays out his “3 Rules of Living.”  They are:

  1. Bust your ass.  Whatever you do, work as hard as you can.  Give it everything you’ve got.
  2. Pay attention.  Notice the things around you all the time.  Appreciate them all the time.
  3. Fall in love.  Not just romantic love.  Love your parking space.  Love your sandwich.  Seinfeld tells about having breakfast with George Burns once, and Burns said “This may be the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had in my life.”  In his mid-nineties, Burns still had the desire to see something worth relishing every day.

Now ask yourself these questions:

Do you work hard every day?  In this era of the computer running everything (usually pretty sloppily), it’s easy to get lazy.  Do you just pluck items off some prep sheet to quack about instead of getting out and discovering things that your listener is talking about?

Do you rely on callers to “do the show for you?”  (Someone said that to me at a convention one year. I wanted to scream.)  The “topics and phone calls” thing can wear really thin really fast, and dominates way too much radio time that could be spent on something more immediate and impactful.  You could… what do they call it?… oh yeah, you could DO a SHOW.

Do you pay attention to what’s around you?  In my on-air days, I often drove into work using a different route, or just turning a block or two sooner or later than normal, so I could see stuff like which store was opening (or closing), what kind of roadwork was starting (and when), etc.

Are you in love with your job?  Do you have a real appreciation for the listener’s time?  I hear a lot of shows that virtually dismiss the precious ‘one on one’ connection all the time, by talking to “listeners” or “those of you” or even worse, “all the people listening out there.”  Do you still, in 2017, not realize that people have LOTS of other options?  If you don’t care about what you’re doing, why should they?

There’s a reason that Seinfeld is definitely on the Mount Rushmore of Comedians – and it’s not just that he can think up jokes.  Adopt his “3 Rules” and you’ll have a better career and a better life.

– – – – – – –
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.

Managing Like A Dog

“The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.”
~Samuel Butler

Our 15-year-old Westie follows us around everywhere we go.  He seems to always be at our heels.  That’s why following someone around is called “dogging” them.

But our Westie has another interesting habit: he tries to anticipate where we’re heading.  He moves around us, and then, of course, is in the way and stops us.  Poor guy, it’s almost like he’s read some books about poor management and is trying to express it.

It comes up in management because micro-managing is a workplace version of dogging.  If you’re always on the heels of your people, watching everything they do, questioning everything that happens, and trying to tell them what to do, you’re dogging them.  Worse yet, if you try to play the leader using the “dogging” management technique, you’re bound to trip them up too.  It’s hardly leadership, let alone a good form of management.

Then there’s the second cousin of dogging, hounding.  That involves asking so many questions or “following up” so much it drives people crazy.  Of course, there are lots of other comparisons, like having to pee on the fire hydrant to mark it.

But then, people are smarter, right?

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.

– – – – – – –
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.

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.

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.

– – – – – – –
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.

If You’re The Smartest Person…

“If you’re the smartest person in your group, you need to get a new group.”
~Pastor Josey at K-LOVE

It’s nice to work around smart people!  It’s even better when they share their “smarts” with everyone else.

I don’t think Josey was saying you should necessarily leave where you’re working, but rather that you need to find yourself a group where you’re not the smartest person.  Didn’t your mom or dad tell you to watch out who you hang around with?

The propensity to want to be seen as the smartest person in the room is pretty common.  It springs from a lack of self-confidence, causing you to position yourself, and everyone else, in a way that makes you look good.  We probably all do it in some circumstances, but some have to do it all the time.  It then becomes obvious to those around them and begins to work against them, which is too bad.

I have an alternate strategy.  As I said to the CMAA conference in Australia recently, I look for really smart people and stand next to them.  If you do that often enough, you’re going to become a lot smarter.  In fact, the conference was full of so many smart people that I wondered if I belonged there.

So there is a choice of strategies.  One makes you look smart, and the other makes you smart.  Your choice.

P.S.  Josey also advised us to “reject smallness and make room for more bigger people.”

Tommy Kramer Tip #208 – The Most Important Ingredient in Putting More Callers on the Air

Note: This tip is written specifically for music stations.  But the “quality control” goal should be in every Talk show, too.

It’s not a “bad” idea per se to supplement the Content that you create with a phone call or two from listeners.  But it’s not an automatic “must have” ingredient, either.  And it can become a “crutch” pretty easily.

Here’s the most important ingredient in putting them on the air:

NO “B” or “C”-level calls allowed.  None.  Only “A”-level callers with something that actually contributes a thought that moves the subject forward, gives it a different slant, or provides some sort of “resolution” should make it onto the air.  The minute you accept less, you dive head first into the generic “topics and phone calls” pool that already has too many people in it.

I’ve done and coached shows that hardly ever ran calls, and I’ve done and coached shows that were – at times – very phone call intensive.  But the “A”-level rule always applies.  Great radio is made up of COMPELLING moments.  If a call doesn’t provide that, it doesn’t deserve being aired.

This leads back to something I say a lot:  Do a SHOW.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but when you don’t NEED calls, that’s when you not only get more of them, but you get better ones, too.

Getting great phone callers isn’t an accident.  It’s a plan.  In a future tip, I’ll give you another peek into how that works.

– – – – – – –
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.

Tommy Kramer Tip #207 – The Difference Between an Aircheck Session and a Coaching Session

In the last tip, I spoke about a magic key to getting to the top level as a talent – the ability to edit yourself even as you’re speaking.

What I purposely didn’t say is that in over 20 years of coaching somewhere around 1700 air talents, I’ve never seen anyone who was just “born” with this.  It always requires coaching or mentoring in some form.

So let’s deal with the elephant in the room: most air talents detest going into an aircheck session with the PD. Period.
And that’s because there’s a big difference between “critique” and “coaching.”

There is no such thing as “constructive criticism.”  That’s just criticism.

Unlike an aircheck session, which seems to always be about finding something wrong, coaching is about three main things:

  1. Shoring up weaknesses and losing bad habits.  (The Fundamentals.)
  2. Finding what each talent’s biggest strengths are.  (They may not know.)
  3. Gradually stripping AWAY the things a talent doesn’t do well, so that eventually, ALL YOU DO IS WHAT YOU’RE REALLY GOOD AT.

You want to be Michael Jordan playing basketball, not Michael Jordan playing baseball.  A good coach would have told him to stick with what he did best and add a couple more years to his legacy, instead of becoming just a source of amusement playing a game he wasn’t good at.

– – – – – – –
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.

The Other Side Of Leadership 

The bad leaders are the ones that push hard so they can gain, who brow beat us so that they can receive the benefit of our hard work, not so we can enjoy the success.
~Simon Sinek

I don’t usually express the negative, but one of the ways we learn how to be good leaders is knowing what not to do.  That’s why the following article from Fast Company got my attention.  I know I’m imperfect, so I’m always looking to improve.

Read & Enjoy:

The old adage is often true:  We don’t quit jobs, we quit bosses.  Besides hurting your mental well-being and productivity, working for a bad boss can severely impact your health.  Researchers from Harvard Business School and Stanford University found that the stress bad bosses cause can be as damaging as secondhand smoke.  And those bad bosses may also be making you sad, lazy, and fat.

Of course, many of us don’t have the financial or logistical freedom to just quit a job without a new one lined up if we get stuck with a bad boss.  So what is one to do?  You can, of course, learn to deal with the bad boss as best you can.  However, as with most maladies, the best medicine is prevention.  If you can learn to identify the warning signs of a bad boss during the interview stage, you can avoid that job and its potentially toxic work environment altogether.  Here are the biggest red flags to look out for, according to a recruiter and management professional we spoke to.


“Even with my experience of interviewing, I’ve sometimes slipped up on what looked like a well-planned schedule at the start of a day blocked out for interviews and ended up running over and being late for the next interviewee,” says Sarah Dowzell, the COO at Natural HR. “Unexpected events can happen to the most organized of people, but how they react will tell you a lot about the person.”

This is often the most easily discernible red flag, says Dowzell. “Acknowledging and apologizing for being late to the interviewee is basic manners, and if the hiring manager doesn’t do this, what does it tell you about how they treat people?”

That’s something with which Richard Hanwell, associate director at The Sterling Choice, a recruitment agency for global professionals, agrees:

Manners cost nothing.  If an interviewing manager is checking their phone for emails or is taking phone calls, then they are unlikely to give the appropriate time in your prospective role if they can’t even do it when they are meeting you for the first time and should be looking to make a good impression.  No matter how senior a manager is, they should respect the importance of recruitment and turn all technology off in order to make an engaging impression.


“These are the hiring managers who are more interested in talking about themselves than interviewing you,” says Dowzell.  She points out that it’s easy to spot a boss with an inflated ego:  If you ask them any questions about the team you’ll potentially be joining, their answers will often focus on them and their personal achievements rather than the wider team.

“The best example of the inflated ego I’ve come across was a candidate being told by the hiring manager that he’d looked at his LinkedIn profile, and then he asked why this wasn’t reciprocated,” says Dowzell.  “This person does not only have an inflated ego, but they’re also needy.  Who wants to work for a needy boss?”


The best bosses are team players who realize the contribution and value of every single person in the group.  But as many of us know, there are plenty of bad bosses who believe that successes are theirs alone, and failures are due to their subordinates.  But how can you tell which camp your prospective boss falls into when meeting them for the first time?  Hanwell says to pay attention to how they use pronouns in the context of the conversation.

“If your interviewer uses the term ‘you’ in communicating negative information – such as, ‘You will deal with a lot of ambiguity’ – don’t expect the boss to be a mentor,” he says.  “If the boss chooses the word ‘I’ to describe the department’s success, that’s a red flag.  If the interviewer says ‘we’ in regards to a particular challenge the team or company faced, it may indicate that he or she deflects responsibility and places blame.”


One of the worst red flags to keep an eye out for is whether the prospective boss asks you any questions that may potentially violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or the Americans with Disabilities Act.  “All of the legislations listed are designed to prevent discrimination in the workplace and mean that hiring managers should not be asking questions such as ‘Do you have children, or plan to have children?'” says Dowzell.

She points out that despite legislation, 75% of senior women in tech have been asked about family life, marital status, and children during interviews.  “Arguably, a hiring manager asking such questions hasn’t been sufficiently trained, but if they’re displaying unethical behavior at this stage, what does it tell you about how this manager operates?” she says.


Dowzell says that there are still plenty of bosses and companies that see their employees as little more than servants.  To demonstrate this point, she tells me about the experience of one of the first people she hired for her company.  Before interviewing at Natural HR, James had interviewed at a nearby larger business that had bigger budgets.

“James told me that after a great interview with a nearby company, he was introduced to a director who just happened to be passing as he was leaving the building, and all he said to James was, ‘First thing you need to know about working here, James: milk and two sugars!'” says Dowzell.  “That was enough to tell James all he needed to know about what his life would be like working for this company.”


Hanwell says the final red flag to keep an eye out for is whether or not you sense enthusiasm and passion from the prospective boss while they are interviewing you.  “Measure this by paying attention to your feelings,” he says. “You should feel a sense of excitement when you consider working for them.  But if you feel like the boss hates his or her job and doesn’t care, leave immediately.  Chances are, the office is full of disengaged employees who are plagued by low morale.”


Michael Grothaus is a novelist, freelance journalist, and former screenwriter represented worldwide by The Hanbury Literary Agency.  His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books.