Frost Advisory #298 – Lessons Learned From The Donald, A Never-ending Series

My, the lessons we can learn from this remarkable time in political history from a certain Donald John Trump, Sr., and Bernard “no middle initial” Sanders.

This tip of this political iceberg can start with the notion of common ground.  Both the Donald and the Bernie have tapped into values that already exist, not that which Madison Avenue has to concoct like the Super Bowl commercial that showed three dogs hiding under a trench coat to buy Doritos.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Jerry Seinfeld would say.

Donald Trump has created common ground by creating a common enemy – Washington insiders with perceived failed promises.  In 2004 Barack Obama created common ground by proclaiming “the audacity of hope.”  Ronald Reagan created common ground in 1980 by asking, “Are You Better Off than You Were Four Years Ago?”

Our format’s shared values run two thousand years deeper than any other format, and yet I find stations frequently miss the opportunity for common ground by defaulting to the smallest possible audience – those who are already fans of the Christian music industry.

If the answer to your quiz is “Building429”, guess who will participate?  Those who know and love Building429.  If you talk about a Christian music industry cruise, guess who’s interested?  Those who are already fans of the Christian music industry.

BREAKING NEWS: Most of your listeners can’t name their five favorite songs, much less name the individual members of Hercules and the Chicken Fat People.  (It’s what the songs mean to them that matters, but that’s a Frost Advisory for another week).

“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


This just in: We’re just a couple of weeks away from Frost Advisory #300 (a milestone unimaginable to my 5th grade English teacher and the guys in the fantasy baseball league) and the world premier of my first video!  Yikes!  That’s a tease, don’tcha know!

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #143 – The Conscious, Unconscious, and Subconscious

In becoming a great Talent (and certainly in coaching talent), it’s important to understand just how the mind works.  If you don’t, you can spend years working on things that can’t actually be accomplished.

You rehearse consciously.
But you perform unconsciously.

The mistake people make by not rehearsing (at least mentally, if not actually physically) is that you can’t be consistently great if you’re just winging it all the time.  Watch NBA players.  A guy works on his free throws or jump shot consciously, so when it’s time to take that shot under pressure, with the game on the line, it happens Unconsciously.  The last thing they want to do is think.  In the millisecond it takes for a conscious thought to pass from the brain to a nerve or a muscle, the timing and rhythm are disrupted.  And the odds of making the shot get worse.

So let’s bring it back to on-air performance.  I’m sure someone reading this is thinking “So where’s the opening for spontaneity?  Where does the spur-of-the-moment inspiration come from?”

Well, magic moments happen subconsciously, when you’re so in sync – so confident and SURE of what you’re doing that you don’t HAVE to think consciously – that’s when that great line or that perfect reaction flashes into your brain.  The magic isn’t likely to EVER happen on a consistent basis if you haven’t put the work in first.

You have enough talent, I promise you.  You CAN be great.  You just have to understand how to put the pieces together.

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

Frost Advisory #297 – Positive, Uplifting, and Stodgy

Is local TV news like this where you live?

I see promos with four young, attractive people either right out of college or right out of the health club, nattily attired with ever so white teeth.  They nod at each other like kids having to pose for home movies, packaged inside captions like “we’re here for you”, “depend on us”, or “news bulletins first”, “severe storm coverage first”, or “bowling scores first.”  (Can everything be FIRST?)

But if you actually dare to WATCH their newscasts… it’s wall-to-wall car wrecks, 7-11 robberies, drug busts, people doing bad things to people, and escaped killers with funny looking noses.  Jeepers, there is hardly any time for cute, witty repartee between these manicured men and women of the press.


What’s going on here?   Do they think we won’t notice that they are claiming to be something they aren’t?

Well, before we throw our TV brethren under the proverbial phony bus, perhaps we should check the log in our own eye.

Christian music radio is now inundated with stations that zip zap over bongo music that they’re Positive, Encouraging, Uplifting, Inspiring, Invigorating, Exhilarating, Energizing, and Revivifying.  But when one tunes in they sound about as positive and encouraging as Donald Trump talking about the Pope.  (I actually heard one station do a “Positive Thought” about the wrath of God.  I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP, as Dave Barry would say).

C’mon, kids.

It’s not against the law to smile and sound likable.  Last I checked it wasn’t a sin to laugh and love on your listeners.

Recently I was a part of a research project where “Fun to listen to” was the one of the top needs of the audience and a top attribute of the station.  Their listeners really like them because they’re likable.  Of course, any good idea can be done poorly and I’m not suggesting you hire Bozo the Clown for afternoon drive, but as those wacky Latins used to say,

“Abusus non tollit usum”

(the abuse of a thing does not invalidate the proper use of a thing)

Here’s my suggestion:  if your station claims to be positive, uplifting, and well-groomed, then maybe it’s a good idea to actually be that.  Which brings to mind me a riddle I heard as a kid:

How many legs does a dog have if you call a tail a leg?

Answer:  Four.

Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it one.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #142 – Social Does NOT Mean All Access

One of my stations recently decided that since social media is now God, they want the air staff to solicit and answer texts while they’re on the air.  Even more than that, they want the jocks to start “conversations” with the texters and ask them questions that lead to answers they can use on the air for so-called Content.  (Because we all know that someone reading a text or tweet or Facebook posting is just SO entertaining… like watching toast burn.)

I’m all for social media, but this strikes me as somewhat insane.  Here’s why:

1.  In the first place, most people listen to the radio when they’re driving.  Are you encouraging people to text or tweet while they’re driving?  Better call your attorneys, because The Big L (Liability) is waiting for several hundred lawsuits to be filed against you when those drivers have wrecks, and blame them on you.

Sound ridiculous?  Take a look at how many restaurants were threatened with secondhand smoke lawsuits.  That’s why smokers are huddled up like lepers outside the building now, puffing away as people drive by.

2.  If you’re saying you want to hear from people who aren’t driving, then you’re automatically playing to the smaller portion of the audience – the people who aren’t doing anything in particular, have time to kill, and think YOUR time belongs to THEM.  So let’s follow this line of thinking… if I go to New York and see “Wicked” on Broadway, then I should be able to text Carol Kane during the lulls between her having to say lines, and expect a reply, right?  Of course not.  That’s ridiculous.

Again, I’m all FOR creative uses of social media, and as anyone I coach knows, we work hard to come up with relevant ways to use Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Vine, texting, even the old-fashioned steam engine of e-mail.  But not while the Talent is on the air.  The only thing the talent should be doing while he’s on that’s “interactive” is taking phone calls – when time allows.  Otherwise, I want them concentrating on the next break – what “camera angle” they’re going to use, making sure that they’re as concise as possible, delivering an ending to the break that’s not something they started with or said earlier in the break.  If I walk into a Control Room and see an air talent texting someone, I take his phone away, so he’ll concentrate on his SHOW.  After the jock gets off, he can answer emails, post stuff on Facebook or Instagram, and tweet to his heart’s delight.

Jack Nicholson doesn’t go to the box office and sell tickets.  There’s a lot to be said for being visible, but still maintaining a certain air of mystery.  You don’t leave your front door open for people to just wander into your house anytime they want to.

We have wonderful ancillary roads these days to reach out to listeners, but never forget that the PRODUCT of a radio station is WHAT COMES OUT OF THE SPEAKERS.  Facebook, Twitter, etc. are not rated by Arbitron.  Keep your eye on the ball, and don’t add meaningless crap to the artistic process of doing the show – unless, of course, you’re happy with the 0.1 share you’re going to get when the whole staff sounds distracted and unprepared.

I have to stop now.  The big vein in my neck is starting to throb really bad.  Peace and love.

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

Frost Advisory #296 – Celebrate the Results You Want

There are only two reasons they call.  Either something is not working the way it should, or the organization has a vision to go beyond where their own experience and expertise can take them.

It’s more fun if it’s the latter.  When it’s the former I often find it is self-imposed limitations that are holding people back.  Fear of change.  Self-doubt.  That kind of stuff.


It’s time for my first clever circus elephant parable of the year.  You know the one.  As a young ‘un the elephant is tied to a small stake and isn’t strong enough to break away.  As he grows up he never tries to free himself because he doesn’t think he can, even though that was a long, long time ago and now he is now as strong as… well… an elephant.

In my big time disc jockey days I once had a program director get me out of an on-air slump by having me listen to a “best of” tape every day on my way to work.  He knew that if my “best” was the my own reference point it would build my confidence.  After all, it’s difficult to doubt your abilities when you actually hear yourself doing it right. (My golf coach tried doing the same but couldn’t find any “best of”!)

“People always say their newest album is the best they’ve ever made.  That should be the case.  You should get better at this.”
~Vince Gill

Consider ordering a couple of anchovy and kumquat pizzas and inviting your on-air team to play their best break of the week.  It may feel a little creepy at first but it will quickly become an exercise in craftsmanship and team-building, particularly if you make it a regular monthly thing.  Who knows, they might even start cheering each other on!

Vince Gill is right.  We should get better at this.

Tommy Kramer Tip #141 – Brick-By-Brick

You construct a building brick-by-brick.  If you don’t, it collapses.

You construct your show each day break-by-break.  Or maybe that should read “You SHOULD construct it break-by-break,” because one of the weakest areas today is in putting a show together.  General headings (“we’ll do something about the Super Bowl here”), things you just feel like talking about (whether the listener gives a cr*p or not), defaulting to quacking about a promotion or station event as some sort of fail-safe device – these are, at best, incomplete thoughts.  (And at worst, just lazy.)

It’s so easy to lay out a show:

1.  First, list all the things you HAVE to do.  (Contest, live spot, feature, guest, whatever.)

2.  Then, list the things you WANT to do.  (Remember that it has to matter to the listener already, or bring the listener up to date on something he/she needs to know, but may not have heard yet.)

3.  Finally, when you start laying out what goes where, pay close attention to Balance.  You don’t want two promotional breaks back-to-back, for instance.  You don’t want to start something that might get some phone feedback, but not have anywhere to air the call(s).

When you build your show on a solid prep foundation, break-by-break, you automatically jump past everyone who doesn’t.  Do it every day, and they’ll be calling Bekins soon to see if they have any boxes.

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

Frost Advisory #295 – Super Bowl 50 and Your Radio Station

The “leaky bucket.”

That’s PPM-talk for stations losing listeners by tuning away or turning the radio off.  The traditional thought is that it is easier to keep listeners than to get them back.  And darn logical that is, no doubt!

But that’s only half the story.  Or, should I say, one third.

A recent study of 37 million listening occasions conducted by Coleman Insights and Media Monitors found that

“nearly two-thirds of radio listening occasions are the result of turning on the radio, listening to a station and turning the radio off.”

That means we as managers, programmers, and talent need to focus not only on minimizing tune-outs, but in creating TUNE INs, or what Mark Ramsey refers to as “winning moments”!

“A great morning show isn’t the show that holds listeners longer, it’s the show that has the winning moments that compel listeners to come back later or tomorrow.

A great radio station isn’t simply the one with the fewest tune-outs, it’s the one with the turn-ons listeners want to experience again and again – the moments that remind you to come back and listen again for more moments just like them.”
-Mark Ramsey

Perhaps the best example is the Super Bowl, or should I say the Super Bowl commercials!

Just for the heck of it I googled “best Super Bowl commercials” and got 50,900,000 results.  That’s over 50 million web hits for reasons to TUNE IN!


The very thing that most consider a tune out – commercials – has been transformed into a huge TUNE IN because of creativity, investment, and talent.

Here’s another way to look at it:

Consider a highlight reel of the listening occasions on your radio station in which people simply didn’t tune away.  It wouldn’t be a highlight reel at all.  It would be a compilation of the bare minimum necessary to keep people from tuning out.  You and I both know of stations designed with nothing more in mind.

But programming that simply avoids the “leaky bucket” doesn’t drive emotions, build relationships, inspire loyalty, or add value to someone’s life.  That’s why superb talents like Wally, Brant Hansen, Lisa Williams, Keith Stevens, Beth Bacall, Frank Reed, Rachelle Renee, Steve and Amy, Kevin and Taylor, and the remarkable storytelling of Keep The Faith are game-changers by creating TUNE IN, the very thing we appreciate about Super Bowl commercials.

50 years ago no one even thought of tuning to the Super Bowl for the commercials.  But that all changed when some talented someones created something worth tuning in for.

Tommy Kramer Tip #140 – The Thing About Being VISUAL

The GM of one of my client stations was looking for a morning show partner.  After auditioning one possible candidate on the air, he had doubts about their being a viable team, since both of them were more “reactors” than “initiators” (fill in your own terms here).  My reservations had nothing to do with filling those roles.  I was concerned with who was going to bring Content to the table, since what they were saying, while it was “pleasant”, wasn’t really engaging.

The most successful air talents (in any day part) are the people who make you SEE in your mind’s eye what they’re talking about.  Being visual is the starting place from which everything else emanates.

Here’s an example.  Years ago when I was doing a morning show in Dallas with a brilliant partner, Rick “Beamer” Robertson, it was the opening day of the Texas State Fair.  If you’ve never been there, it’s held in the Fair Park neighborhood where the Cotton Bowl stadium is – not the nicest part of town.

I reminded the listeners that on the opening day of the Fair, you get in free if you bring a canned good to donate to charity.  Rick replied with “I have to explain to my Dad that beer is not one of the major food groups. He brings a 6-pack of Pearl, and thinks that’ll get the whole family in.”

We got out there. (The First Exit.)

So the next break, I wanted to finish up by talking about some of the things to see there that weekend – the Auto Show (very cool), the Texas vs. Oklahoma game was right next door that Saturday, and that would make a great day – go to the game, then go to the Fair.  And lastly, I mentioned one of the main attractions, the “Texas Star”, a 212-foot high Ferris wheel (the tallest in the USA) that you can see for miles.

Rick then commented that he loved being on it, but he had a fear of heights, and it always seemed that at some point, when they were letting people off the Star, he’d get stuck at the very top – over 20 stories up!  He audibly shuddered on the air, and I tried to calm him by saying, “Yeah, but the one good thing about being up there is that you can just see your car being put up on blocks.”


Here’s the point:  If I (as a listener) can’t see it, what you’re saying is just a noise my radio is making.

But more importantly, if YOU can’t see it, you can’t talk about it.

If you’re a GM or a PD, think about this the next time you’re looking for an air talent.

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