Frost Advisory #270 – Yankee Stadium, Change, and Your Radio Station (Part One)

This Frost Advisory is the first of two parts. Just trying to change things up.

There are two kinds of people in radio stations. Those that fear change, and those that thrive on it.

In my 40+ years in radio, no one has ever invited me in and said, “…but don’t change anything.” No air talent has ever been hired and told, “but don’t change anything the previous jock did.” Not changing is never the goal. But it’s often the outcome.

Those that fear change don’t realize a truth – that things are changing all the time, regardless of our efforts to not change.

My cousin Dan once told me, “If you want a white post to remain white, you have to paint it white again and again.” My cousin Dan says nifty stuff like that all the time, don’tcha know.

To keep your hair the same length you have to cut it.

To keep your kitchen the same, you have to wash the dishes and put them away.

To keep a calendar current, you have to tear off pages.


Every day the sun rises. Every evening the sun sets. And where I live on the globe that’s about four minutes different from the day before.

Lack of change is an illusion. Once you understand that even to stay the same you have to change, change changes from a threat to an opportunity.

On next week’s show I’ll delve into why change can seem so daunting and what we can do about it. And if you’ve already guessed that it has something to do with “National Cat Hair Day”, you may be right.

Tommy Kramer Tip #115 – The Dangers of Repetition and Repetition

Repeating a bit or a game later in the show is something that some consultants and talent coaches believe in, but I don’t. Think about “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” as a good example of why.

After it was hatched in the United Kingdom, the U.S. version of the show was launched in “prime time” by ABC in August of 1999, and was originally hosted by Regis Philbin. The original network version was the highest-rated of all television shows in the 1999–2000 season, reaching an average audience of approximately 29 million viewers.

That’s pretty incredible, and it made a LOT of money. But then, of course, ABC overexposed it, running it multiple times a week, and sure enough, the audience got tired of the show. It was cancelled in June of 2002. Yes, it has limped along as a daytime game show with several different hosts – I think the most recent is Chris Harrison, but they could use George Harrison – who’s dead – and probably get the same results.

It’s very tempting to think “If it worked once, then do it again a couple of hours later.” But know that at some point that’s going to come back and bite you. I’ve heard a lot of “paint by numbers” morning shows, and so has your listener.

Burn material like jet fuel. Constantly be trying to come up with new stuff. Artistically, creativity is a muscle, and it has to be exercised or it atrophies.

But what about “benchmarks?” If you actually have one or more (and no, “Battle of the Sexes” isn’t one), run with it – but only ONCE a show. (Maybe just once a week.)

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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.

Creativity vs. Innovation

“Where do you put the fear when you choose to innovate? The fear is there, but you have to find a place to put it.” –  Seth Godin


I remember sitting on the floor in the house in Portland with a bunch of friends watching TV, absolutely mesmerized. Disney’s Fantasia was playing, and no one was talking. Usually we were talking with each other, making fun of what was in, or telling dumb grade school kid jokes. You didn’t have money for a lot of movies in a military family, so TV, even a black and white one, was where you went.

Fantasia made a huge impact on me, and later I realized why. It was beyond the usual creativity you’d find in Cinderella, it was innovative!

People tend to put innovation and creativity in the same box, but they shouldn’t. Innovation is when you come up with something new – like Fantasia. Creativity is when you put a new spin on something existing. So, while all true innovations are creative, all creativity isn’t innovative.

I hear a lot of radio people talking about how innovative their station is when it’s either creative, or in that third, unmentionable category, unremarkable.

We’re afraid to take a chance any more. Radio doesn’t seem to be looking for the crazy people, those outliers who are different from everyone else. In fact those people frighten some of the “modern” breed of broadcasters looking for the normal people who are compliant and submissive… in other words, unremarkable.

Content will win in the end, but only if it’s innovative, creative, or at least remarkable.

Frost Advisory #269 – You Saved My Life!

“You saved my life,” she said. I moved a little closer to hear.

I was eavesdropping on a conversation between my friend Tyler and a listener (hereafter referred to as a P1) who had heard Tyler share on the air about getting a mammogram. The listener, er-P1, was prompted to do likewise and discovered the early stage of breast cancer. Tyler had, in fact, played a role in saving her life.


That listener, er- P1, could have told Tyler that she really loved “This Day in History” at 7:35 every morning (“National Belly Button Lent Day”, dontcha know), or that she enjoyed the no-repeat workday marathon with no talk, or that she really enjoyed the talk over bed on the new weather jingle. But what this listener, er-P1, was reacting to was not some programming tactic (although there is nothing wrong with that to quote the great philosopher Seinfeld), but rather to Tyler sharing something meaningful and relevant to that listener’s life.

In our PPM navel-gazing we allow ourselves to be lured into assuming our listeners’ life choices are driven almost exclusively by what we do in our tiny 12 x 12 studio. We lose our perspective of listeners as real people, their humanness diminished to nothing more than a statistic. They become a P1; nothing more. Which reminds me of a recent grocery store run where I saw the stock boy so focused on loading shelves that he didn’t notice he was blocking people’s way. In other words, he was so busy with the task at hand that he lost perspective of why the customers were there in the first place.

How’s this for a humbling statistic?

Nielsen data indicates heavy radio listeners, er-P1s, only spend 6% of their waking time with their favorite station. Six percent, gulp. And those are the heavy listeners.

It is impossible to finagle your way into that 6% of waking hours by becoming less meaningful. The hand-wringing effort we make to strip down our radio stations in an effort to imprint one additional data point can only result in becoming what my friend Mark Ramsey refers to as “no one’s favorite I-Pod”.

Play lots of music? Of course! Be efficient with talk? Certainly! Discipline is imperative.

But consider this:

The impact of our format could be transformed if we paid more attention to being a part of saving lives than saving quarter hours.

I’ve met people who know how to do both!

Tommy Kramer Tip #114 – Time versus Timing

It’s not the time it takes to do a break, it’s the TIMING.

Many times in a coaching session, I’ve criticized a break, and the talent has said something like “but it was only a minute and ten seconds long.” But as we all know, the actual “stopwatch” time of a break means very little.

I get the feeling that if most jocks were doing Hamlet, they’d say “To be or not to be that is the question” instead of “To be, or not to be. That is the question.”

When you rush, or run sentences together, it makes the listener feel antsy.

Often, the way to get on course in your air work is to simply think of how real life conversation unfolds. If someone is just a little hurried when he talks to you, it smacks of an agenda. Or even worse, like he’s just trying to get the conversation over with. Discomfort is the emotional takeaway.

Real people breathe, and pause between thoughts. I’m willing to bet that in real life, you breathe, too.

So beginning today, try to slow down just a little bit. Pause when there would be a comma or a period if what you’re saying were written out. It’ll only cost you a second or two of total time to sound much more real and engaged in what you’re saying. It’s a conversation with the listener, not a speed-reading course.

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