Tommy Kramer Tip #100 – Perishable Food

This tip may seem pretty obvious, and I wish it were. But apparently it’s not, from what I hear flipping around the dial and working with Talents who tell me, “Yeah, I meant to do something on that, but I forgot to.”

Some Content is like perishable food. If you don’t use it quickly, it’ll go bad. If you have something that is time sensitive, find a place for it on the air NOW. Otherwise, it’s like you bought food, put it in the refrigerator, and then just let it sit there and spoil.

Yes, some other stuff is like a can of beans up in the pantry. It can be used anytime.
Here’s what I’d recommend:

1. Use the “perishable food” first.

2. Then throw the other stuff away. We’re not survivalists stocking up for the end of the world.

Seriously, if it’s the day after Memorial Day, for instance, and special ceremonies were held all over your city yesterday, you’d better talk about it today. By tomorrow it’s old news.

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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.

Frost Advisory #254 – The Top 10 Reasons Stations Aren’t Successful

I’m told that these weekly Frost Advisories are the most widely read programming thing around in the format these days. My guess is that this one will top them all as people see their own situation and secretly pass along to their teammates with a “See, I told you so!”

Buckle your seat belt!

#10 – Success is never defined

It’s easy to think yourself successful as long as that remains vague and without form.

“One reason we’re able to believe that we’re better-than-average leaders and drivers and spouses and team players (and radio stations) is that we’re defining those terms in ways that flatter us. The ambiguity in terms like “leader” or “team player” enables our illusion. That’s why it’s so much harder for us to fancy ourselves better-than-average pole vaulters.” Chip and Dan Heath, “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.”

#9 – Lack of vision

This year is the same as last year is the same as next year. If you don’t know where you’re going any road will lead you there.

“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.” Jack Welch



#8 – Fear of change

We crave familiarity. We’ll even borrow someone else’s if necessary. “What do you like here?” we ask at a new restaurant. The most familiar is always the status quo, which is deadly for change.

“The unsuccessful person is burdened by learning, and prefers to walk down familiar paths. Their distaste for learning stunts their growth and limits their influence.” – John Maxwell

Stay tuned next week for more.


Tommy Kramer Tip #99 – What to look for in a Coach

It’s easy for air talents or Program Directors to shy away from coaching. I get that. For one thing, most people think “critique” when they hear the word “coaching”. They assume that the process will be a negative one, like being called into the principal’s office for throwing spitballs.

(I would actually just work with you on making the spitball nice and tight so it flies well, and then making sure you’re aiming at the right person.)

Here’s the process—or at least, my process: I’m not looking for what you do wrong so there’s always something to pick on and correct. A coaching experience based on that negative foundation isn’t going to do you (or me) any good. Yes, we’ll address whatever holes there might be in your education or techniques, and correct them, but that’s not the real purpose. The real idea is first, to find out what you do best. And second, gradually get to where that’s all you do.

There are several other fine coaches—Valerie Geller, Randy Lane, Tracy Johnson—that work the same way. But not all of them. When you get ready for a coach—or as a PD, come to the realization that, just like a baseball manager, you need a pitching or hitting coach—choose wisely.

There’s not ONE pro golfer, baseball player, or football player who doesn’t have a swing coach, batting coach, or position coach. You hear actors all the time talking about who taught them. Tom Brady has a coach. (A head coach, an offensive coordinator, and a quarterbacks coach, as a matter of fact.) Butch Harmon, Hank Haney and others have worked with dozens of the best golfers in the world. I don’t know Butch, but Haney is a friend, and Hank’s methods and mine are amazingly similar. Yes, he’ll point out what you do wrong, but he’ll help you build your game around your STRENGTHS.

And that’s what you should be looking for.

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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.

Frost Advisory #253 – There Is No “AND”

A music radio station consists of two basic things: the music, and everything that isn’t the music.

The music fulfills one need; the everything else fills another.

I think of content as that non-music element that “adds value” to a music station. Frankly, that’s quite different than what we hear most; blabbering that interrupts the music.

My friend Brant (not his real name) is a very well-known radio pro. I’ve heard him to do content that is as profound as anything I’ve heard from someone who wasn’t a real preacher. But that’s not what makes him special. What puts him at the top of his field is that he can do that AND say something so funny that milk squirts out my nose!

It’s the “AND” that sets him apart.

The problem with most Christian radio stations is not that they’re all that bad, it’s that everything is the same note. There is no “AND”.

Image what your favorite song would sound like if it had only one note; same lyrics but no chorus, no middle eight, no key change. It would still be the same song, in a sense, but it would no longer have the very dynamic range that made it your favorite.

I reckon’ God did this right. He could have made a rainbow with only one color, a giant yellow arch in the sky following a thunderstorm. But that would have been McDonalds. Instead He used red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.



What colors of the rainbow is your station missing?

Tommy Kramer Tip #98 – Friendships are formed by the exchange of Opinions

The whole object of being on the air is to get people to actually come to know you, instead of your just being a voice giving information, or a promotional machine. Content that connects with the listener each day is obviously important.
But there’s a ‘secret ingredient’ in every truly great air talent I’ve ever heard: being perceived as a friend.
And friendships are formed by the exchange of opinions.

In real life, if I don’t know how you feel about something or how you’d react to a certain situation, I may like you, but we’re not close.
Friendships grow as you learn more about someone, what that person thinks and feels.

…and friends may not always agree with each other. Honestly, that doesn’t matter, as long as you’re not just slapping the listener’s values in the face. I have a couple of dear friends—guys I’d give a kidney to—that I’ve argued with for years. We each have our opinions, and express them. Sometimes they’re the same, sometimes not, but we’re just trying to get to the complete thought. “Winning” the argument isn’t something we even think about.
(Note: For on-air purposes, we’re not trying to start arguments; we’re just trying to not be invisible audio wallpaper.)

The listener needs to know what you think. Your opinion, to compare to his/hers…maybe even adopt your thought as their own.

Hmmm…reading this over again, I hope my two best friends don’t both need a kidney at the same time.

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

Frost Advisory #252 – Stuff I Found on Facebook and Things That Don’t Matter

This Frost Advisory is a personal tirade. I’ll apologize in advance.

Now lazy disc jockeys have another excuse to be lazy.

I was recently listening to a very well known radio station when I heard the talent talk about Facebook – for three connective breaks.

He saw THIS on Facebook, he saw another talent post THIS on Facebook, and he saw an artist post THIS on Facebook!


On one hand the internet is a terrific resource for stations to connect with their fans.

On the other hand it has become an excuse for talent to be ordinary; no unique perspective, no special connection to the listener’s life, just the deejay equivalent of “This Day in History”. (National Belly Button Lint Day, don’tcha’ know!)

Let’s go back to the basics:

A talent’s purpose is to add value to the music environment; an emcee, if you will, of a shared listening experience.

Referring to something you’ve seen on Facebook is like referring to getting into your car before driving to the Grand Canyon. It’s not the point.

If there is a story from Facebook worth telling, then tell that story. But it’s always about the story, it’s not about Facebook!

P.S. Please forward this to every air talent you know. And tell them you saw it on Facebook!

Tommy Kramer Tip #97 – Trying Too Hard

There’s a fine line between giving your best effort and trying too hard.

Oddly enough, I find that many Talents have a lot of trouble talking about things on the air that they feel strongly about. Often it seems like the more they care about something, the longer it takes to say. Now I’m certainly not against putting your heart on the air; we want that. But Emotion has to be channeled, or it just becomes “blah, blah, blah” to the Listener. Think of how many Pledge Drives you’ve watched on PBS or heard on Listener-supported radio where it sounds like they just CAN’T shut up.

So here are three guidelines to get you into the groove:
(1) Start with a “headline,” a ONE-line setup to get into the subject.
(2) Make ONE point.
(3) Wrap it up and move on.

Brevity is the most welcome thing about greatness. Look at the TV shows “Modern Family” or “The Big Bang Theory” as great examples of how humorous or even heartfelt perspectives are delivered in short, tightly-worded dialogue. Every line, right to the heart of the bulls-eye. That’s how you have a long run in prime time.

When you try too hard, the results are worse.

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

Frost Advisory #251 – Easter Sunday and the Man with the Umbrella

umbrellaI arrived at Easter Sunday church during a torrential Florida downpour. Streets were flooding and the church parking lot looked like it could host a water ski tournament.

As I jumped out of my car and headed for the church building I was greeted by a friendly young man in rain gear carrying an umbrella. He greeted me with a paradoxical sunny disposition and walked me from my car to the covered walk way. He then ran off to greet the next apprehensive still-dry visitor.

No “we’re glad you’re here” speech from the pulpit that morning would have conveyed that sentiment as much as the man with the umbrella in the parking lot. That church that day demonstrated with actions far more effectively than any words that I was welcome there.

There is no format I’ve ever done that is more difficult to program to reach large numbers of people, must less be top rated in the market. To be successful we have to navigate the most controversial subject ever known – religion – yet still be relevant and meaningful within the context of the squeaky clean radio.

No matter what your station does someone will have a problem with it. You know this to be true based upon opinions among your own staff.

One of the major challenges in growing the Contemporary Christian format is that there are no natural on ramps. People are either “on the highway” and know the music, or off the highway and don’t know Big Daddy Weave from Hercules and the Chicken Fat People.

Many stations compound the problem without even realizing it by programming to only those who already love the music as much as the staff.

To grow your radio station you must run out to the new listener with an umbrella and say, “Welcome!” Meet them in their muddy parking lot, understand their need, and show them in ways they understand how your station meets their need.

Only when they are nice and dry inside do you even think about preaching to them. Or better yet instead of preaching maybe you’ll simply have a conversation as though you’ve been friends for years.

John Maxwell said, “People will not always remember what you said. They will not always remember what you did. But they will always remember how you made them feel.”

Unless you’re willing to make the effort to run through the pouring rain with an umbrella to make them feel welcome you will never get the chance to speak into their lives.

Tommy Kramer Tip #96 – Teasing vs. Promoting Ahead

“Tease it, then do it.” We’ve all heard this for far too long.

First of all, there’s a big difference between Teasing and Promoting. The fact is, most teases are meaningless. The next time you ponder whether or not to tease something, think about this: what if I don’t like what you’re teasing? Then, Elvis has left the building.
Plus, we don’t tease things in real life, so why do it on the air? If we were having dinner together, you’d think it was nuts if I said “my wife Kathy will say something, right after she finishes buttering that roll.”

And here’s a huge factor—you never want to tease Content, just something that you’re going to talk about. “I’ll tell you about the cancerous tumor my aunt has, comin’ up” is just not going to make anyone listen. If you want your show to sound real and conversational, you should just bring something up, so it doesn’t sound calculated. (Although you can keep the tumor thing to yourself, please.)

Add in the fact that if you oversell something, it’s likely to fail to live up to expectations, and it’s easy to see why you should put less pressure on yourself and just let things flow. Look, I don’t want to know everything you’re going to do in advance. Surprise me once in a while.

Promoting is different. However, there’s a very short list of what I believe is worth promoting: [1] Contests, [2] when I can find out more about a station promotion that I might like to be part of, or [3] when a special guest will be on. Very little else, if anything, matters to the listener. We all know that most plugs for stuff on the website don’t really make many people go to it. At most stations I work with, You Tube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all way more important than the station’s website.

Radio stations keep trying to manipulate or monopolize the listener’s time against his/her will. But the listener is in charge, and growing more used to the “on demand” part of life every day. When you only promote things that actually matter to the listener, believe me, you’ll stand out in the crowd.

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