Tommy Kramer Tip #122 – Say My Name, Say My Name

Time for a little “basics” check. How good are you at saying the name of the station? There are a lot of different factors that play into this supposedly simple thing…

First of all, you should say them first—the first thing out of your mouth when you start a break. Not just “somewhere in there”. There’s a reason the Jif label is on the outside of the jar. They don’t put it inside with the peanut butter.
When you say “That’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ by Ed Sheeran on 92.9 KSLL” that’s about Ed Sheeran, who’s on 1200 stations, one of which happens to be yours.
But when you say “92.9 KSLL and Ed Sheeran with ‘Thinking Out Loud,’” it’s YOUR song. You own it, and that’s the kind of music that YOU play.
Ownership MATTERS.

Yes, I’ve heard PD’s say “but it sounds more conversational to just drop them in at random.” But branding isn’t about being “conversational”. It’s about branding. (Which, by the way, is why you shouldn’t just segue two songs back-to-back without a short produced piece or a jingle between them that gives your name. You’re just throwing away a branding opportunity. PPM will never measure someone who doesn’t tune you in a second time because they don’t remember who you are.)

But let’s move on to the performance itself—the art of saying the station’s name. Here are just a few of the techniques I coach:

1. As a voice actor, you have to be able to deliver it in multiple ways, with several different inflections and variations in timing. It’s easy to just toss the name out like a robot, which always sounds like you’re just trying to get it done with so you can get on to the more “important” stuff. (I’ve actually edited together every time a talent says the station’s name in an hour so he or she could hear the bad habits that have set in — same tone of voice every time, same inflection, always going down in pitch at the end—there are tons of them.)

2. Matching the pace of the song. (Fast song, uptempo delivery. Slow song, slower delivery.)

3. Matching the emotional “vibe” of the song. (Sad song, more somber tone. Happy song, more upbeat delivery.)

4. Starting on the same NOTE the song is on. (The great Marice Tobias also teaches this.)

…and there’s more, but in John Lennon’s words, “I have to have money first.”

Suffice it to say that unless you’re good at saying the name of the station—the first thing you should master—chances are that people won’t remember you, and ratings won’t be as high as they could be. I’ve seen Arbitron entries for stations that don’t exist anymore, and air talents that have been DEAD for two years. That’s the power of good branding.

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

Frost Advisory #276 – When You Have a Need, Plant a Seed

I met a guy at the health club this afternoon and now he’s my best friend ever.  Just like that!

Silly, of course. We all know that relationships don’t happen instantly. I reckon’ some of the deepest relationships in your life are those you’ve had the longest.

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously”  2 Corinthians 9:6 NIV

The ratings are down! What happened? The fundraiser was off! What’s wrong?

“People are drawn to black and white opinions because they are simple, not because they are true.  Truth demands serious effort and thought.”  Donald Miller

This weekend’s super moon lunar eclipse doesn’t just appear spontaneously.  There are numerous distinct phases; seasons, in a sense.  If we considered only the brief moment of the maximum eclipse at 10:48 pm (analogous to the snapshot of weekly ratings, perhaps?), we’d fail to notice that the partial eclipse began an hour and a half before.  Or more importantly, that the seemingly simple occurrence of the Earth’s shadow passing across the moon was a result of a much more amazing and miraculous trajectory.  God’s bigger plan, don’tchaknow!

Many radio stations operate as if there is no bigger plan, viewing their success (and worse, making their decisions) based only in terms of that singular 10:48pm moment in time fundraiser or ratings report card.


We ran this contest and didn’t see the results in the next weekly ratings!

We went all Christmas music and didn’t see an increase in listenership right away.

“There’s always a delay between planting and harvest. When you plant a seed in the ground, do you get an ear of corn the next day?  Of course not.  You plant in one season, and you harvest in another.”  Rick Warren

The success of your radio station will be determined by sowing the seeds of sound strategic principles and building relationships.  And relationships, counter to the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately navel gazing of weekly or monthly ratings, take time.

“A farmer has four sacks of seed in his barn and he looks at his empty field.  He doesn’t complain, ‘There’s no crop!  I wish there was a crop!’  He just goes out and starts planting seed.

When you have a need, plant a seed.” Rick Warren

Tommy Kramer Tip #121 – The Beau Weaver Tips

Beau Weaver was simply the best radio jock I ever heard, period.

Now he’s now a very successful voice actor based out of Los Angeles, and still one of my closest friends. We first met and worked together as babies several hundred years ago, when Gordon McLendon hired us as part of the staff at KNUS 99, the station that put FM on the map in Dallas.

We were all very young, and constantly running thoughts and techniques by each other, trying to find ourselves as jocks and Production talents. The other day, Beau reminded me of how he’d often play me a spot or promo that he’d done, and I’d keep repeating two things to him: “Don’t use your voice, and don’t try.”

Those are still the two starting places, either for young talent, or for old pros trying to update their sound to still be valid in the 21st century. Let me explain why…

Don’t use your voice.
When you “use” your voice, it sounds phony. The broadcasting world is still far too stocked with people on the air who just LOVE their own voices, and “puke” too much or shout at the listener in an effort to sound “big” or to “impress” them. (Are you listening, Kenny Albert? I’m not 40 feet away. There’s no reason to scream at me.)
Just talk.

Don’t “try”.
It’s not that you don’t want to give it a professional effort. Of course you do, but when you try too hard, you sound strident. That doesn’t bring anyone closer to you; it pushes them away. You pull people toward you by really understanding your “instrument”. Study great actors, and you see the value of LESS volume, less projection. For instance, Tom Hanks doesn’t have what radio people would call a great voice, but he can make you cry. Here’s another great example: Matt Damon at the end of “Saving Private Ryan” at that graveside, turning to his wife and softly saying, “Tell me I’m a good man.” It gets me every time.

Until you fully realize all the techniques available to you that can sway people, you’re just going to be one more voice in a sea of voices, quacking away on the air every day. (And good luck trying to be a voice actor. I’ve been to auditions where they’ve asked “Anyone in radio?” and when some people raised their hands, they were told “Thank you; you can leave.” They never even got a CHANCE to read, because the last thing anyone wants for a national spot is the “deejay” delivery.)

If you’re not in touch with this yet, you need a coach.

Oh, and go to to hear Beau Weaver’s work. Whatever he doesn’t have, you don’t need.

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

Frost Advisory #275 – Is Anybody Out There?

I recently attended a church in another city that is very strategic about the things it does, the things it doesn’t do, and how it communicates.  As a result, more and more people are being drawn to that church resulting in additional services, building facilities, and three satellite campuses.

Most Christian radio stations aren’t growing their audiences at all. In fact, it is the format with more stations and fewer listeners than any other format, according to our buddies at Nielsen.

Growing stations are ones that are purposeful about everything they do. Here’s a suggestion on how you can evaluate your station.

Understand who you’re trying to communicate with.  John Maxwell says, “People are not persuaded by what they hear. They are persuaded by what they understand.”

The pastor at that church would never consider giving a message to preschoolers the same way as he does to seniors.  Nor would he consider communicating in the same way to the college crowd as to those in elementary school.

To be an effective communicator or an effective radio station you must understand who you are talking to.

Most stations get the “target demo” thing, but I’m suggesting it is also important to understand the life cycle of how people listen to your radio station.


Let’s pretend that your station has three main types of listeners -new listeners, casual longer term listeners, and fans.

New listeners are like window shoppers.  They aren’t very familiar with the music and may have a vague sense of what your station is about.  They don’t get the secret handshake.

Casual listeners tune to your station from time to time, perhaps when they are in a particular mood, but for some reason haven’t yet bonded with your station.  They don’t get the secret handshake either.  (Detect a trend?)

Your fans love the music and are the ones most likely to give you their opinions and get involved with station events or concerts. Since these are the only people we ever hear from we tend to make our programming decisions, particularly when we react to complaints, assuming that everyone thinks this way.  (Not even these folks get the secret handshake! ‘Reckon that’s why it’s called ‘secret’).

If you think about the scope of things on your station, it is a relatively simple exercise to determine which programming elements would most appeal to which group of listeners.  If your radio station isn’t growing its audience it is likely because your station isn’t consistent with the programming elements and presentation style that would most appeal to new listeners.

“If you do something remarkable, something new and something important, not everyone will understand it (at first).  Your work is for someone, not everyone.

Unless you’re surrounded only by someones, you will almost certainly encounter everyone.  And when you do, they will jeer.

That’s how you’ll know you might be onto something.” Seth Godin

Tommy Kramer Tip #120 – A Foolproof Method for Constructing a Break

Especially with young air talent, it’s important to go over the basics. But the basics that are being taught today sometimes ignore the nuts and bolts of how to go about constructing each break.

Here’s where I start in the very early stages of coaching someone…

There are three parts to any break on the air—Beginning, Middle, and End. That seems pretty obvious, but here’s the part that’s not obvious: Start with the Ending FIRST. Then work on the Beginning. The ends shape the means. When you’re clear on where you want to go, you’ll be able to make the “entry” more concise. (And we know that not wasting people’s time is the biggest lesson for anyone on the air, especially someone who doesn’t have much experience.) Plus, being sure of both the Beginning and the Ending helps the Middle go in more of a straight line. (No “chasing rabbits”.)

And here’s the secret sauce: The Ending should be (1) a “Reveal”, (2) a Conclusion, or (3) a Surprise.

Try this for a week, and you’ll see how simple everything gets.

Roads To Nowhere


“If you don’t know where you’re going you might wind up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra


I was cruising along the freeway on one of those amazing “sun break” Friday’s in Seattle when I saw a freeway exit that didn’t go anywhere.  It was just a blocked off dead-end exit ramp.  There was a lot of poor government planning and financial problems involved, but being a fan of metaphors I couldn’t help think about radio’s future.

I’ve been involved in a major project since January looking at Millennials, and it’s very sobering.  There are a lot of stories in the trades about the reach radio has with that generation, but you don’t see a lot of them talking about their shrinking TSL.  You don’t see any articles about their use of radio in context with their use of other media.  It’s as if we boomers don’t know any Millennials or see their actual media use.

These people are digital natives, and are in almost continual use of media, averaging around 11 hours a day.  But they are multi-media consumers, not single media consumers.  Considering radio’s financial model, that’s disconcerting.

There are plenty of off ramps on the media highway, but we’re not using them for what they are.  All of our social media, community building, video and such, is built around reinforcing radio, not complimenting it.  The answers are there, but someone needs to act on them.

The cool part about the coming convergence between digital and media is that those startup costs are much less than buying a major market signal.  Again, the answers are there, but someone needs to act on them.



Frost Advisory #274 – It Needs More Salt

Batten the hatches! Here comes another complaint!

When we hear criticism about our station we often react in a way that is absolute. There is a complaint about song and we are tempted to pull it from the playlist. A criticism of an air talent results in a scolding e-mail to NEVER DO THAT AGAIN. A general manager once told me me he had so over-reacted to every complaint that his station had little worth listening to anymore.

Consider this.

Rather than react in absolutes where SOMETHING MUST BE DONE RIGHT THIS MINUTE, consider the complaint as if a customer in a restaurant had just asked for more salt. They are simply telling you how they would like prefer their food; not anyone else’s food – THEIR food. They are not suggesting that the restaurant should go out of business.


If you consider every element of your programming as seasoning in the context of an entire meal then it is easier to understand why some people prefer Tabasco, some ask for no onions, and others want a baked potato with nothing on it. None are absolute condemnations of the restaurant but are instead a result of the reality that those in a group still have individual tastes.

If something is so distinct that people actually notice and react to it, it could be one of the most useful tools in building a unique brand.

“When people care about a brand or a cause or an idea, it’s likely that have other things in common. And the caring causes them to invest attention. Once they’ve done that, they can’t help but notice that others don’t see things the way they do. We ignore the great unwashed and reserve our disdain for those like us, that care like us, but don’t see things as we do.

The really good news is that the tribe cares. If you don’t have that, you’ve got nothing of value. In fact, the squabbling among people who care is the first sign you’re on to something.” Seth Godin

More salt, anyone?

Tommy Kramer Tip #119 – Everyone has their own story to tell, but…

A great promo for the last season of ‘Mad Men’ said “Everyone has their own story to tell…but it only goes in one direction: forward.”

Yes, the grammar of that is incorrect, but the point is something that’s increasingly overlooked.

Unless you’re retiring today, your story isn’t what you’ve done in the past. It’s what you WILL do the next time the mic opens.

Everything you ever do on the air is like a DNA chain, a long, winding, snakelike thing that’s constantly being added to.

The worst phrase you can ever hear is “We’ve always done it that way.” It’s even worse when YOU’RE the one saying it.
Great actors, great musicians, and great writers are always trying to come up with a new wrinkle; something that they haven’t done before.

For example, each Michael Crichton book was always fascinating and mind-expanding with “What if?” scenarios, but The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park are nothing alike.

Hopefully, you’re the same way. I coach people to become Personalities, not just disc jockeys, so in our sessions, I’m constantly pushing the envelope to come up with something new. At the least, it’s invigorating, and it can be downright euphoric. When’s the last time you felt like that?

Each day, you have an opportunity to add to the DNA chain, to live out the next forward step in your story. Go for it! Never settle for just doing the same things every day.

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

Frost Advisory #273 – We’ve Never Done It That Way – A CMB Special

“A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” Proverb 1:5

Curious that Solomon fellow, the wisest man that ever lived they say, talked more about wise counsel than he did anything else. Reckon if anyone didn’t need counsel it would be the wisest-man-that-ever-lived. What’s up with that?

Wisdom is inexorably linked to learning. And in my travels I’ve observed that learning is inexorably linked to the love of learning.

“We’ve never done it that way before”, is the cry of someone who doesn’t love to learn.

“That doesn’t sound like my radio station”, is the anthem of someone who views things only through the rear view mirror. (A rather dangerous way to drive, I might add).

The Christian music industry will be lugging their flip flops and sun tan lotion to Walt Disney World in Orlando this week for Momentum, a think and love fest thrown by Michelle Younkman, Brittany Whatley, and their talented group of staff and volunteers.

Great thinkers like Mark Ramsey, Christy Amador, Jon Gordon, Erica Farber, David Nasser, and toast-loving Brant Hansen will be sacrificially offering their wisdom to those who, dare I say, LOVE to learn.

Unfortunately for those who don’t and won’t, they’ll leave Orlando unchanged, with perhaps only a slightly better tan, and unconsciously uttering “We’ve never done it that way.”

“When do you think most people stop learning?  Is it when we already know how to do something?

Is it when we have some success under our belts?  Is it when we imagine there’s nothing left to learn, no one knows something we don’t, or when we come to believe we know it all?

Whenever it is, it’s too soon, and it’s too bad, because we’ve always got a lot to learn… no matter how much we already know.” Mark Beeson

Tommy Kramer Tip #118 – What you can learn from Bill Murray…and Larry Ryan

It would be hard to imagine anyone who’s more welcome to join a party than comedian/actor Bill Murray. His “business model” is unique. He has no agent, no “handlers” buzzing around him, no business cards to pass out. But what he DOES have is that he seems imminently approachable.

You see him at the Pebble Beach golf tournament, accepting home-baked cookies from a woman, then sharing them with other people around the tee box. Then you click to another channel, and he’s at Eric Clapton’s giant “Crossroads” event, not only being an emcee, but sitting with people in the crowd, watching the artists play, just like a normal person. Then he’s in Austin for SXSW, walking down the street, eating barbecue and shaking hands with everyone.

But radio people at a remote or station event? Mostly, they’re huddled up in a corner, talking to each other. Their physical posture and manner suggest that going up to one of them just to chat would either get a perfunctory “thanks for coming” response or be downright unwelcome.

Sure, Facebook and Twitter are good ways to connect, but believe me, shaking someone’s hand makes far more impact. My friend and mentor Larry Ryan in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, is a great example. I can’t count how many times we’ve been eating lunch or just walking down the street, and someone has come up to him and said something like “Hi, Larry! We met a couple of years ago at the Mardi Gras parade.”
Larry will ALWAYS greet them warmly, and if he can’t quite place them, say “I’m sorry, but I’ve forgotten your name.” Then he makes that person feel like an old friend, has a short conversation, wishes them well, and we go on.

The result? After 50 years on the air there, Larry Ryan is a legend in Shreveport, still pulling excellent ratings on an Oldies station. And I guarantee you that when he does retire, a lot of people will still be writing his name down in their Arbitron diaries. Months later, they’ll think he’s just been on vacation for a couple of weeks. (If you think that’s an exaggeration, you’re wrong. When I was Corporate Talent Coaching for Paxson Radio, we saw diary entries for one jock who had been DEAD for two years!)

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