Frost Advisory #294 – Ted Cruz and Your Radio Station

Watching the last few presidential debates reminds me of being in Mrs. Lay’s 5th grade class.  We had that know-it-all that nobody liked, that smart science-brain kid that was painfully shy, and that loud-mouthed bully that picked fights on the playground with a girl named Megan.  Or was it Kelly?  (I don’t think I was considered one of those three, but I did achieve the distinction of being the first to get zits.  And the last to get rid of them!)

“Nobody will listen to you unless they sense that you like them.  If a person senses that you do not like them, that you do not approve of their existence, then your religion and your political ideas will all seem wrong to them.  If they sense that you like them, then they are open to what you have to say.”  Donald Miller

They say that Ted Cruz has a 43 percent unfavorable rating, and that’s even after adding a few jokes in the last debate to improve his likability.  43 percent!  Jeepers, that’s higher than Larry Musselwhite in my fifth grade class!  And Larry didn’t smell very good.

By the way, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Rand Paul, and Donald Trump all have a similar favorability gap, according to

Think of the last few presidents.  Obama (when elected).  Clinton (even after you know what).  Reagan!  Jeepers, he was like a movie star.  They were all likable, at least to enough someones.

“We resist being influenced by people we don’t know or don’t trust.  We are open to the influence of those whom we trust or whom we perceive have our best interests at heart.  Trust requires common ground.  Trust requires empathy.”  Andy Stanley

If being likable and sounding friendly are the starting points for being effective, shouldn’t we in Christian radio pay more attention to connecting emotionally and relating to people’s lives?

I recently heard a promo for a daddy/daughter dance that shared the date, time, and location, but little else.  Nothing about the impact of a dad on a daughter’s life, the importance of spending one-on-one time with your kids, and the power of a role model.  Downright unfriendly, you could say.


Consider this:

Buy some pizza and gather your teammates to build a “friendly” vernacular for your station’s brand.  Then make sure every recorded promo, every live mention, and every digital thingamajig on your website utilizes those words to help make your station friendly and more effective.

After all, not everyone can be as funny as Ted Cruz!

Tommy Kramer Tip #139 – Learn from Steven Wright

A couple of tips ago, I quoted several comedians to illustrate how ‘camera angles’ and vocabulary go hand-in-hand to shape memorable thoughts.  One of them was Steven Wright.  Here are just a few more examples of his brilliance:

  • “I remember when the Candle Shop burned down.  Everybody stood around singing ‘Happy Birthday.'”
  • “If at first you don’t succeed… then skydiving definitely isn’t for you.”
  • “Sponges grow in the ocean.  This bothers me.  How deep would it be if they didn’t?”
  • “It doesn’t matter what temperature the room is.  It’s always room temperature.”
  • “My friend has a baby.  I’m writing down all the noises the baby makes, so later I can ask him what he meant.”
  • “I put instant coffee in a microwave oven and almost went back in time.”
  • “What’s another word for thesaurus?”

While it seems like funny thoughts just flow out of him like water, here’s what he says about his process:  “For every four jokes I write, one is good enough to stay (in the act).”

So here are some questions for you:

  • Do you write four punch lines for every one you use?  If not, why not?
  • Are you funnier than Steven Wright?  (I know I’m not.  Chances are you’re not, either.)
  • Is it because you’re lazy?  Or is it because you think “That’s good enough”?
  • Because “good enough”… never is.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Frost Advisory #293 – More Neil Diamond Facts Coming Up Next Hour

To tease, or not to tease. That may not be the question.

Most teases I hear are self-indulgent attempts to manipulate un-seen passive consumers to do what you want them to do.  That, my friends, is a waste of time.  Your listeners are not simply consumers, but people with real life and real hopes and dreams.  We would do well to consider their lives as our frame of reference.

Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”, the best selling non-fiction book of all time other than the Bible, begins with these four words:

It’s not about you.

Offering your listeners something relevant and compelling for which to stay tuned is a noble quest.  Trying to manipulate listeners for an additional PPM meter-minute is a waste of time.

“More Neil Diamond facts coming up next hour.”  I actually heard this on the radio. I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP, as Dave Barry would say.


We in radio have a lot to learn from social media, which has the algorithms and nifty-difty cyber brain power to monitor what entices people to “click through”.

Just in the last hour on social media I’ve seen:

“We’ve selected a group of people for a brief survey.”  Nope.

“Your marriage is doomed without this three minute conversation.”  Yep.

“Three easy ways to help keep your kids from getting sick this winter.”  Certainly.

Here is a practical idea:

Consider having your air personalities keep track of the social media posts that entice them enough to “click through.”  Then discuss why and how they can emulate that on the air.  Bonus tip: It’s easier to get people to do something again than it is to get them to do it the first time.  That’s why tuning in for “the next time to win” in a contest, or tuning back tomorrow at this same time for more ways to keep your family healthy can be effective ways to create additional listening occasions.

As my brilliant friend Tommy Kramer says, “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 Tip #138 – John Cleese on Editing

Obviously, being able to edit yourself is a crucial ingredient in whether or not anyone wants to listen to you.

Rather than give you the standard radio clichés, or quoting statistics from some study, let’s go to an outside source, John Cleese, former Monty Python member and the writer of “A Fish Called Wanda”. (He also wrote and starred in maybe the best sitcom of all time, Fawlty Towers.)

In his book “So, Anyway…” Cleese is talking about a show he had co-written in college that he later took to Australia, New Zealand, and eventually, New York. As you can see, he’s very modest about it, but what he learned FROM it is important:

“Our show had definitely gotten better since its Cambridge incarnation. It was now only sixty minutes long (down from two hours), teaching us that if you have an average show, and you can dump half of it, it doesn’t get a bit better – it gets a lot better. In fact, there seems to be a basic, rather brutal rule of comedy: ‘The shorter, the funnier.’ I began to discover that whenever you could cut a speech, a sentence, a phrase, or even a couple of words, it makes a greater difference than you would ever expect.”

Every word counts. Most disc jockeys spend them like pennies. (And Talk show hosts seem to think that the more words you throw at something, the more effective it is. They’re wrong, of course.)
Spend words like twenty-dollar bills instead. The fewer words you can use to tell a story, explain something, or make a point, the better…and the bigger the impact.


– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Frost Advisory #292 – People Don’t Push the Button on their Values

The scoreboard can tell us a lot.  We look to see the inning or the quarter.  Perhaps to see who’s at bat or who’s ahead.  Sometimes the errors or the fouls.  But no one considers the scoreboard important enough to take its picture.

Unless of course…


…you see yourself on it!

Your station is like that.

The music is nice, but Spotify and Mortify have it in major doses.  Traffic reports?  It’s on the 4’s, the 10’s and the 12’s up and down the dial.  Weather?  I have an app for that.

No, your radio station has to offer something else.  Something unique.  Something your listeners value.  Something that screams, “That’s me!”

Listeners may push the button because of a song they don’t like or irrelevant chit chat…

But people don’t push the button on their values.

*Inspired by my talented friends Kevin Isaacs and Dave Arthur.