Tommy Kramer Tip #112 – Audacity: a lesson from Gordon McLendon

Research is finally showing what we always knew—that talent really does matter if you want people to listen to your station. So here’s a little history lesson. If you’re not familiar with Gordon McLendon, he was one of the true pioneers of radio. McLendon established the first mobile News units in American radio, the first Traffic reports, the first jingles, the first all-News radio station, and the first “easy-listening” programming. He also was among the first broadcasters in the United States to editorialize on the air, and he made headlines doing it…often. Nicknamed “the Maverick of Radio,” McLendon perfected and spread like wildfire the Top 40 radio format created by Todd Storz. (Storz and McLendon were kind of that era’s radio version of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.)

Gordon had highly successful stations in many markets, including Dallas and Houston. And he was one of the first guys to bring FM radio into the spotlight by selling AM Top 40 giant KLIF in Dallas, then turning around and beating them with his FM station, KNUS. (I was part of that staff.)

One of McLendon’s mantras was “Be informative, be entertaining, or be quiet.”
However, those of us that worked for him and had heard stories of how volatile he could be knew that the “quiet” thing was not really an option. So we thought of it as “Be informative, be entertaining, or be fired.”
Because above all else, McLendon loved Audacity—always Audacity. He wanted PERSONALITIES who weren’t afraid to push the envelope.

Now I’m not saying you need to break the rules, and certainly you don’t want to do anything that would get the station in trouble with the FCC. But like Mr. McLendon, I am saying “Show some guts.” Never settle for just being another cookie-cutter, plain vanilla jock. (If you need some coaching on this, call me.)

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

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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