Tommy Kramer Tip #152 – Fake Disagreements

Here’s something that needs to be clubbed to death, never to appear again:

I’m hearing a lot of “fake disagreements” these days on team shows.  Person #1 says something, then Person #2 disagrees with it.  Which does happen in real life.  But you can’t just take a position because some Consultant or some PD told you that “conflict is interesting, and you’ll get more phone calls.”

First of all, the object of being on the air isn’t to get phone calls. It’s to be a good neighbor, and to be informative and entertaining.  Sometimes that’ll be funny; sometimes you’ll disagree.  But it has to born of a genuine emotion, not just put on like a coat, because it ALWAYS SHOWS.

Manufactured disagreements are like fake IDs – they don’t really show who you are.

Here’s a tip in developing a more real, true to life sound.  You can AGREE, but for different REASONS.  (Actual people do this all the time.  Let’s be like them.)

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

Frost Advisory #306 – Maybe We’re Asking the Wrong Question

“How many different items are on the menu?”  It’s a question no one at a restaurant has ever asked.

And yet… “how many songs are on your playlist?” is routinely asked as though the answer might actually be significant.

The familiar and the unfamiliar; the all-time-favorites and the never-heard-of; each viewed simply as a quota, no one more important than another.  But, alas…

Everyone’s favorite music station is the one that plays their favorite music.

And that, my friends, is the fundamental challenge in growing Christian music stations to be market leaders.

A well-known researcher recently told me that he had never seen a format where so much of the music was unfamiliar – even to its fans.

So, what’s the better idea?

In a world of unfamiliar, successful program directors design familiarity into the brand.


That’s how six unknowns can get the loudest ovation of the night at the ballpark – the common ground of love of country connects six thousand fans in the stands to the six returning airmen on the field.  It’s how strangers become friends because they are both parents of kids on the same team.  It’s how neighbor meets neighbor as everyone pulls together to clean up after a storm.

“To move an audience, especially a diverse audience, from where they are to where you want them to be requires common ground…  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”

Familiarity is the fruit of common ground.  Common ground is the fruit of knowing your listener.

Knowing your listener is the fruit of putting your listeners’ perspective ahead of your own agenda.

The question isn’t “How many different items are on the menu?”

…the question is, “What do people love here?”

Tommy Kramer Tip #151 – All Morning People

Here’s how you build a great air staff, and keep them great over a long period of time, even with the natural ebb and flow of turnover:

Only hire people who could potentially do mornings.  For EVERY daypart.

So many stations today are the morning show, then… everything else.

A lot of jocks doing nights or overnights (which, of course, might be a voice tracker nowadays) simply aren’t very dynamic or entertaining. Blah.

But PERSONALITIES should be in EVERY daypart.

Naturally, many of them won’t be fully hatched yet. But if you look for that spark, that “everybody at the party’s listening to this guy tell stories” ingredient, or someone who writes great copy, for instance, that’s a great starting place.

Because here’s the deal: people who DON’T have that Entertainment factor have a low ceiling on how good they can become.

Three centuries ago, I started in radio in my hometown doing all-nights.  I wasn’t very good.  But with a lot of mentoring, and the permission to try stuff AND permission to fail, three and a half years later, I moved from Shreveport to Dallas to begin the greatest adventure of my life.  I wasn’t the best jock on that staff either, but that staff was all young bucks who would end up doing morning drive at some point in their careers. And we’re all in the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.

That can be YOUR staff, if you don’t just settle for a seat filler.

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

Frost Advisory #305 – Programming Lessons Learned from… Our Faith?

They say there are more “religious” radio stations than any other format category.   They also say those religious stations have fewer listeners than any other.   The reason for that is quite simple.

A radio station cannot grow unless it is designed to grow.  And that requires a different kind of thinking.  Strategic thinking.

A growth strategy is one that incorporates big picture concepts such as…

Why does the radio station exist?
Who are our listeners?
What do they desire and expect from our station?
Who and where are other people like them?

It’s ironic to me that most Christian radio stations aren’t strategic.   Ironic because our Christian faith may be the most strategic thing there is.

Our faith flows from the ultimate big picture.  There is a God.  He made everything.  He created us for a purpose.  He desires a relationship with us.   Jesus Christ is the focal point of that God-man relationship.

Most Christian radio stations ignore strategy and focus only on the day to day tactics – the songs, the contests, the liners, the deejays.   Oh, and reacting to complaints.


Your radio station can be transformed if you’ll answer two simple questions:

What do people want and expect from your station?

How consistently to do you that?

Congratulations!  In answering those two questions you’ve begun the journey of thinking strategically.

Tommy Kramer Tip #150 – One Word

Just one word can change the listener’s perception of you. Indeed, in the moment, one word can change anything.

“The woman screamed when she saw a moose” is very different from “The woman screamed when she saw a mouse.”

“I took my daughter Angela…” tells me who this person is. “I took Angela…” doesn’t.

“We have Taylor Swift tickets to give away” is about you.  “You can win Taylor Swift tickets!” is about me, the listener.

Choose your words carefully.  Craft what you do on the air.  Stop thinking of what you do as a shift, and think of it as a show.  You’re here to be good company, to catch me up on things, and to entertain.  Don’t just be “radio” good; be “down to earth, but definitely the life of the party” good.

It’s all about the performance.

And every word matters… both said and unsaid.

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

Let’s Talk About Leadership

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
~John Quincy Adams


I hate it when an ancestor has more clarity on a subject of today than I do.  That’s because I have a lot of people ask me what leadership is.  While they don’t like it, my response is always to ask, “Why do you want to be a leader?”  Few are ready to answer that.

It’s a real killer for many people when I ask.  They start to tell me about what they can do with the organization, or how equipped they are, or how bad existing management is.

What they don’t often say is they have a vision for what the future can hold, or what they can do for the organization in their position.  Their perspective is inward looking, not outward looking.  They care about what they will be doing more than how the organization will be doing.  It’s not about what they’ll add, but what they can get. Wikipedia, the proven expert on everything, says, “Leadership is both a research area and a practical skill, regarding the ability of an individual or organization to ‘lead’ or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations.”

If you’re only thinking about what’s wrong now, or how much better you can do than existing management, you’re not thinking about leading.  You’re probably thinking about a competition, and how you’ll “win”.  How you can do better than the person in charge now?

There might be some truth to the part where you can do a “better” job than whoever is in charge now.  But it also could be a combination of ego, hubris, or lack of information.  If you spend more time thinking about how much better you can do than the existing leadership rather than what you can do to move the organization ahead, you might be in the leadership business for the wrong reason.

Frost Advisory #304 – If Only

It’s the shortest title of any of the 304 Frost Advisories.

If only.

If only we didn’t have those limitations.  The budget.  The staffing.  The signal.

Limitations!  There are just 12 notes on a musical scale, only 100 yards on the field, just 90 feet between bases, and barely 24 seconds on a shot clock.

All art has boundaries.

“Embracing the limitation can actually drive creativity.”
~Phil Hansen

Embracing it can result in a mural made from nothing but postage stamps, 60 foot sculptures of four presidents chiseled into granite at Mt. Rushmore, or a TV sitcom with no music other than a bass guitar.


In the world of radio, the limitation is… time.

We sell time, we schedule time, and we even measure time spent listening.

But often the creative aren’t disciplined, and the disciplined aren’t creative.  The result is either three minutes of babbling… or nice, concise dullness.

What if we embraced creativity and discipline as two sides of the same coin?  “Necessity is the mother of invention”, Plato said.  Or was it Frank Zappa?

All musicians want to jam.  All hits are three minutes.

Tommy Kramer Tip #149 – The Power of Certainty

Obviously there are exceptions, but for some reason, a lot of things I hear from jocks on music radio stations these days sound somewhat tenuous in their delivery.  So let’s focus on that for a moment.

Here’s the goal:

Be SURE of what you want to say when the mic opens.  Stumbling over words because you haven’t really digested them yet, or hemming and hawing around because you haven’t fully fleshed out the “story board” for this break, just makes you sound unprepared or weak.

CERTAINTY carries more weight than anything else.  People who sound hesitant, or like the information owns THEM, don’t pull the listener in closer.  They’re just audio wallpaper.

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

Frost Advisory #303 – The Number to the Left of the Decimal Point and the Number to the Right

So, what is more important?

Trying to keep listeners from tuning away… or attracting people to tune in?

Many would say the former.  Almost all discussions inside the radio station – where to place the spot sets, traffic reports, and contests – focus on this.  And for good reason.  After all, listeners are already listening.  It’s easier to get blood out of a turnip then to have to plant another crop.

But what does the data say?

“A major new study… reveals that nearly two-thirds of radio station listening occasions consist of listeners ‘turning on’ a station and end with them ‘turning off’ a station, as opposed to ‘switching in’ from and ‘switching out’ to other stations. “*

“Coleman Insights and Media Monitors… found that 62.7% of all occasions are Turn On-Turn Offs.”  (It’s even higher – 77.9% – in the Christian format.)

“These findings are about the strongest reinforcement of the value of brand-building for radio stations that I can imagine,” commented Coleman Insights president/chief operating officer Warren Kurtzman, who co-authored the study.  “The ability of a radio station to generate listening occasions through Turning On is dependent on having a strong brand, which is based on having high awareness, a clearly-defined position, association with multiple product attributes and eliciting passion from the audience.


I wonder what would happen if you spent 62.7% of your time creating a radio station that is relevant, meaningful, and entertaining enough to have raving fans, and the rest of your time eliminating obstacles for longer listening.

“In the share of every station there are two numbers, the number to the left of the decimal point and the number to the right (e.g. 6.0, 6.3, etc.).  The number to the left is affected by the big things that a station does, like what it is known for and the big benefits the listener gets from the station.  The number to the right is based on the tweaks and minor modifications that the station does to the music, the commercial sequencing, etc.

You can make a mediocre station only slightly better by working on the number to the right all the time.  You can make a mediocre station great by working on the number to the left of the decimal.”
~Michael O’Shea

*“The Components of Tuning Occasions – Switching vs. Turning” study… an analysis of nearly 37 million listening occasions by Coleman Insights and Media Monitors.