Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #306 – Little Things Make Big Things Happen: A Lesson From John Wooden

This tip is for music stations.

If you don’t know who John Wooden is, you’re probably not a basketball fan.  Wooden, called “The Wizard of Westwood,” won TEN NCAA national championships in a 12-year period as head coach at UCLA, including a record seven in a ROW.  (No other team has won more than four in a row.)  Many of his players became NBA stars, often Hall of Famers like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Gail Goodrich, and Bill Walton.

Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success” has become the Bible to dozens of present-day coaches, and one of the things adjacent to it is his list of “12 Lessons in Leadership,” one of which is “Little things make big things happen.”

This directly applies to radio, with the current generation of radio talents who grew up with the computer running everything, voice-tracked shows taking away timing and “right here/right now” presence, and a total lack of understanding that sixty seconds is a LONG time.

So let’s concentrate on just one aspect of how your radio station can benefit from John Wooden’s lesson.  Something simple, like whether or not the jock talking – or an imaging piece or a jingle – occurs TOO SOON on the end of a “cold ending” song.

Too soon = not a good thing.  On a “cold” end, the listener wants to HEAR that last word or chord hit, not hear it stomped on.  WAIT for it.  You don’t want “dead air” (of course), but impatience is a drag, and a good reason for someone to go to a streaming service instead of you.  (This actually includes songs with fade-out endings, too.  You want to end on a particular word or phrase, not in the middle of a sentence in the lyrics.  And BEFORE it goes to virtually nothing that can be heard in the car.)

Too late = creates the immediate impression that you’re either not paying attention, or you just don’t have very good motor skills.

Just right = respecting the music in a way that leads to the next element hitting at the perfect time, so your voice or your Imaging piece or your jingle isn’t seen as an INTRUSION on my favorite song.

Do this all the time, every time, and I promise you’ll have a competitive advantage that other stations won’t even notice, and even if they did, they’re too lazy to raise their standard.

Tommy Kramer

About Tommy Kramer

Tommy has spent over 35 years as an air talent, programmer, operations manager and talent coach - working with over 300 stations in all formats. He publishes the Coaching Tip

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