Tommy Kramer Tip #113 – Double Duty

Recently on a station I work with, a contest winner call led to a dramatic and touching story. My wife was listening to it with me, and tears came to her eyes as she heard the winner talk lovingly about his son, who has several serious medical issues.

As a coach, I saluted the morning host, Dave Arthur, because people don’t just open up to someone like this unless they TRUST you. However, from a time standpoint, the call could’ve used a couple of edits. There was a lot of medical talk—many ailments (with those Latin names), and we always have to guard against the mediocre audio quality and partial dropouts that are indigenous to cell phones and could force a listener away. I showed him where an edit or two could’ve cut some of that out, and allowed him to wrap it up with both congratulations on the win, and a hopeful and heartfelt thought Dave had offered to the dad.

Then we went on to how things can serve Double Duty. I would have run the edited call on the air, then put the entire call on the website (or link to his Facebook page). Now you’d have the opportunity to promote that different door to the station with something like “There was a lot more to that call that we didn’t have time to air, but you can hear the whole call at It’s amazing.” Re-purposing it that way could have created two related but distinctly different “moments” for the listener, and spurred some traffic on the website.

Many stations don’t have the savvy (or sadly, the work ethic) to do this sort of thing, and it results in missed opportunities. I’ve worked with several syndicated shows where website visits are the currency for clients.

Two lessons from this:
1. Don’t EVER waste the listener’s time on the air. Hard decisions have to be made sometimes in order to accomplish this.
2. Your website has to offer something of VALUE besides just lists, promotional items, and “USA Today”-type lifestyle stuff. (We’ve seen enough recipes for your special combination Hungarian/Mexican goulash tacos.)

My friend and colleague Alan Mason says “Everything matters.” He’s right.

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

What Are You Looking For?

“You get what you expect. If your expectation is great then you’ll receive of its greatness but if you are expecting something small you’ll receive of its smallness. It’s not about how much you’ll receive but how big or small is your vessel.” – Unknown


How do you see the people you’re working with?

You’ll see in them whatever you’re looking for. If you’re expecting them to do something wrong, you’ll find it. If you’re expecting something good, you’ll find it. There’s even a name for it – the Pygmalion effect. The more positive expectations you put on people, the higher they perform.

The Rosenthal–Jacobson study divided school children into equal groups, and then told the teacher who the high achievers were. Of course,the children that were expected to do better, actually did better.

On the other side is the Golem effect. If you have low expectations you’ll find what you’re looking for. The effect is named after the golem, a clay creature  in Jewish mythology.  The effect was named after the golem legend because it represents  the concerns of social scientists and educators, which are focused on the negative effects of self-fulfilling prophecies.

That’s right, it’s named for a monster. It’s been in several movies, too. Never has it been the kind of creature you’d want to have a beer with.  That’s what you’ll get with low expectations and an attitude of looking for something wrong – a monster.

I’m familiar with this one.  I see people who expect another to say or do something wrong, and they always manage to find it.  The idea of expecting the best of people is mostly reserved for “how people see me.”

Whether it’s positive growth or negative wrong-doings, you’ll get what you’re looking for.  So who do you want walking your halls, a Pygmalion or a monster?

Or better yet, are you that monster?

Frost Advisory #267 – Elvis, Assumptions and Your Radio Station

Jose’s portable beachside mercado in the Dominican Republic was overflowing with one-legged pink flamingos, hand painted maracas (“you no buy, you no shake”), and a framed velvet Elvis or two; just the kind of high quality merchandise to tempt even the choosiest vacationing American. Jose was nice enough to stop me and point out his selection of genuine Cuban cigars. “You pay three hundred,” he says, “but I give you at one twenty five.” A steal of a deal, I thought, after using my high school Spanish to wrestle him down to only $50 per box.

Back in the good ole USA my friend Mike opened his new box of cigars and immediately sensed something was wrong. The cigar paper was wrapped haphazardly. The aroma was dull. A strand of straw was sticking out the end of one.


I had been had. Como se dice “ripped off”?

Had I sought counsel from someone experienced in buying cigars I would have been saved from making a rather simple mistake. But because I don’t smoke and had never purchased cigars before I lacked basic understanding of what to look for, or even what questions to ask. My inexperience led me to make assumptions, and those assumptions left me vulnerable to Jose’s beachside salesmanship.

What assumptions do you make about your listeners? If you want your station to grow what assumptions do you make of those tuning in for the first time?

Do you assume they know the music and have a favorite artist? Do you assume that they know the secret handshake, understand the lingo, and want a four-pack of tickets to the show?

“To move and audience, especially a diverse audience, from where they are to where you want them to be requires common ground. If you want me to follow you on a journey, you have to come get me. The journey must begin where I am, not where you are or where you think I should be.

…If the journey begins with the assumption that everybody here knows what we are doing, you will eventually have an audience of people who already know what you are doing. If your journey begins with the assumption that everybody in the audience is a believer, then eventually your audience will be full of believers. Who shows up for Third Day concerts? Primarily people who know and are expecting Third Day music.

Where you consistently begin and what you consistently assume determine who consistently shows up. Why? Because your assumptions create the common ground for the journey.” Andy Stanley, “Deep and Wide”

Now, about that velvet Elvis…

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.)

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

Are you more active than your fans are?

“The time is now for marketers and businesses to go beyond the product conversation to understanding, sparking and sustaining the passion conversation for why your business is in business.” From The Passion Conversation


One of my favorite ideas is from the book “The Passion Conversation“, coauthored by John Moore. It suggests you Google “I love (your station),” and then “I hate (your station).”

Now you can begin to see what the real conversations about your station are. So I did it for a station I know, and I found a suggestion someone listed because they were having a hard time in life, and another person who hated all the Christmas music on the station.

But my biggest surprise was that there was far more of the station talking about itself than any listener conversation. They’re doing a good job of letting people know about the station, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of response from listeners.

I’m not sure what that imbalance means, except that there’s a lot more self-talk than Passion Conversations. There’s a lot more product conversation than passion conversation.



Frost Advisory #266 – Every Suggestion Comes With a Donation

I hadn’t brushed my teeth with tap water in a week.  There’s nothing like being in a third world country to make one aware of the blessings we have in the good ole’ U.S.A.

I was one of 50 to recently travel to the Dominican Republic to lift shovel and rock to build a community center, to tend to 308 Dominicans and Haitians in a make-shift medical clinic, and to use the common language of sports to build bridges to hundreds of kids that couldn’t speak English.

My friend Christian Santiago is El Hombre in an organization God is using to transform a poverty-stricken Dominican community.  That organization’s focus to their vision – to educate and develop leaders in their own community to share the Gospel – has allowed them to avoid the pitfalls of trying to do too many things that take away time and resources from the main thing.  The result?  A thriving ministry!


As you can imagine, a benevolent organization like theirs, and maybe a radio station like yours, is bombarded with random, sometimes cock-eyed ideas from well-intended bystanders.  A Saturday night rock show for the teens? A Sunday night Southern Gospel show?  How ’bout some children’s programming?

Christian has a very simple way of filtering out the clutter.   Every suggestion comes with a donation.  He’s learned it’s easy for someone to throw out a random idea, but the meaningful ones come from those who are willing to back it up.

I’m not suggesting that your station’s strategy should be dictated by those on the sidelines with deep pockets.   But it is helpful to have an objective filter to help discern the good ideas from ones that will simply eat up your time and resources.

It’s been said that if you can’t say ‘no’ to the things that don’t matter then you won’t have room to say ‘yes’ to the things that do.

Tommy Kramer Tip #111 – Analytics and You

Professional baseball is heavy into analytics, often referred to as ‘sabermetrics.’ They study every player’s performance in every possible situation, and make decisions accordingly.

As a PD or air talent today, PPM is our new sabermetrics drinking fountain. With all the new analytics—being able to see exactly where people lost interest during a break, the ratio of male artists to female artists, where spotsets should go, etc.—it can seem like data is making all the decisions. (And that’s not even counting the importance of an actual social media strategy.)

I like math. I was the little kid who could rattle off baseball players’ stats. Analytics are fun—and if you need an example of how they can be used, look at that dramatic “three players on the right side of the infield” shift in baseball today that drives most batters crazy. That’s a direct result of analytics making teams better by being smarter. (And “the shift” just looks so cool.)

So dive on in! Use every single tool that can tell us what the audience wants (and what’s ineffective, too). Personally, I’ve made an effort to absorb as much as I can about the workings of PPM from people who are much smarter than me, with the sole goal of keeping on learning, moving forward, all the time.

However, from a coaching perspective, let me add this:
All the analytics in the world won’t help you be different, be original, or make that person in the car or office think of you as a “must” listen. You still have to MATTER to the listener, or you’re just the voice interrupting the playlist. More on that in the next tip.

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

Innovate the Pixar way

“The thing about working at Pixar is that everyone around you is smarter and funnier and cleverer than you and they all think the same about everyone else. It’s a nice problem to have.” – Andrew Stanton


Authors Bill Capodagli & Lynn Jackson, in their book “Innovate the Pixar Way: Business Lessons from the World’s Most Creative Corporate Playground,” suggest that Pixar is a “playground” that will inspire you to:

– Dream like a child.
– Believe in your playmates.
– Dare to jump in the water and make waves.
– Do unleash your childlike potential

I don’t know about you, but I want to work in a playground like that!

One other Pixar secret is that they pay both the creative and technical people the same money.  They realize they are BOTH important to their success.  The greatest story you come up with isn’t going to do much if it isn’t translated through the technology.  Think programming and IT, or programming and engineering.

Everyone at your organization has a place and purpose, and if they don’t you need to get rid of them.  True leaders will understand the value of all, not just one.


Frost Advisory #265 – The Concession Stands Will Close After The Seventh Inning

I couldn’t believe what I heard the public address announcer say.

The game was still going on, there were fans still in the ballpark, but they were closing the concession stands!

What’s next, I thought? The restrooms will close in the 8th?

It begins ever so subtly. First, the restaurant limits its hours. Then it’s closed for lunch. Then it’s only open four days a week.

It’s a slippery slope when you start treating your customers like they are not important enough for you to stay open.

Which daypart do you treat like “no one is listening”? Overnights?

I know stations that have more listeners overnights than others have during the entire week.

Sunday morning?

That may be your greatest opportunity to connect with someone listening for the first time on the way to church.

Saturday night?

Andy Stanley’s ministry strategically buys television time immediately following Saturday Night Live because they want to reach people on the way home from the bars. At last check Your Move is viewed by over 700,000 people, more than but two Christian radio stations in America.

Legendary New York Yankee outfielder Joe DiMaggio was once asked why he hustled on plays that had little effect on a game’s outcome or on his team’s standing. Joe replied,

Because there’s always some kid who may be seeing me for the first time. I owe him my best.

Once you stop caring whether anyone is listening, don’t be surprised if others do, too.


Tommy Kramer Tip #110 – Seinfeld on the use of Music

On June 9th, 2014 at the Paley Center in New York, Jerry Seinfeld talked to David Letterman about his “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” web series.

About 19:25 into the interview, Letterman comments on the incidental music that moves “CICGC” from one point to the next. That’s where you see coffee being poured, Jerry and the guest walking into the diner, etc.

Jerry then compares using music in this show to using it in the “Seinfeld” TV show, saying “If you put music under a scene that has actual written narrative, it ruins the scene. But since this has no drive, no point, the music doesn’t fight with it and it just seems to kind of carry…(it) fills in the little gaps.

Now I don’t think that’s 100% true for radio, because our medium is a little different; we don’t have video to engage the listener. But I do think there is something to be said for asking yourself “Do I have a narrative?” “Does it need music?” “Am I talking over music when I should be just talking?” On a lot of stations, it’s almost getting to where jocks CAN’T talk without a music bed under them. Some stations even require it. (Bless their pointed little heads.)

I recommend using music when it’s appropriate, like a John Williams movie soundtrack – to heighten the mood or the drama of a given ‘scene’. But if it’s just generic uptempo Production music, used as a crutch to create an artificial sense of momentum (which it doesn’t actually do), you’re just trying to cover up the fact that you don’t have a narrative; you’re not telling a story.

Now that I think of it, maybe that would be a good bit in itself, taking real life, semi-boring or technical conversations about brake shoes or roof repair, and putting ridiculous music underneath them.

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