Tommy Kramer Tip #161 – The Difference between Repetition and Redundancy

Repetition is defined as “the act of doing or saying something again.”  Flip on the radio and you’ll hear this constantly; this almost compulsive-sounding need to say something, then repeat it, like the listener is an idiot.  (For a while, people were being COACHED to do this.  Remember those double time checks?  “Seven-fifteen, fifteen minutes after seven o’clock.”  Ugh.)  Redundancy is defined, for our purposes, as “the inclusion of more information than is necessary for communication.”

An example of this is “82 degrees and raining outside.”

“Outside?”  Well, thank goodness.  If it were raining INSIDE, that could lead to some pretty expensive roof work.

Recently, I heard a talent start a break with, “This is maybe the best example of ‘for better or worse’ that I’ve ever seen…” and then tell about a man who had been the President of a university in South Carolina, and how his wife of more than forty years, a woman named Muriel, had contracted Alzheimer’s.

Then, instead of going directly to the audio clip of the man making his announcement, he added, “This is his announcement to the university that he was resigning so that he could take care of Muriel…”

Then he played the audio clip of the announcement, which basically was just the man repeating everything the host had already said!

This break should have come with a “spoiler alert”.  In the mind of the listener, it’s “been there; heard that.”

Here’s the lesson:

Repetition HURTS breaks.  Redundancy KILLS them.

Radio – at least GREAT radio – is always about how concisely you can get things said.  A good rule of thumb is “say things ONCE.”  What you leave UNSAID is just as important as what you say.

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

The White Noise Is Deafening

“We’ve reached peak social – a point at which the signal to noise ratio of social updates is unsustainable…”
~Larry Kim, Founder of WordStream


“We’ve got several thousand participants and  thousands of responses.”  So I thought, “Uh huh, and what does that mean?  Do we have more listeners, more donors, more people moving toward Christ?”

Are we drilling down to optimize our stations for PPM, but ignoring meaningful measurement of social media or community development?   We measure our social media efforts on a whole different level than we do other things.  Pushing  “like,” or reading a Bible verse seems like “engagement,” but I’m not sure it is.

Radio continues to churn out hundreds of thousands of posts, blogs, tweets or Instagrams a day, but I’m not sure many of us know what it means.  How does it affect us?  Is there any kind of measurable benefit buried in there?  Because I have 300,000 likes on Facebook does that mean I’ll rule the world?

It’s easy to confuse activity with accomplishment and reaction with meaning, but what Larry Kim says is true.  The insatiable desire for more compelling content is blurring the lines of what’s compelling and what’s not.  It’s not about “likes,” it’s about “loves,” and what is compelling to us is not necessarily compelling to the “audience.”  I always start with, “Are they saying you’re compelling because you’re you, or because you’re Christian.”  It’s a confusing measure that we all in the format have to understand.  Compelling has to do with something “I can be first to tell others”, and “something that moves me.”  I’m sure there’s a lot more, but it’s a beginning.

TJ Holland is one of the brightest programmers I’ve ever worked with, and he has some interesting observations about the use of Facebook.  Some radio stations keep reposting content that doesn’t provoke a response because it’s important to them.  Most don’t take down posts that aren’t getting responses.  There is a “me focus” in a lot of what we do, rather than a “we focus.”  And, of course, that doesn’t work on Facebook.

I’m plagued with the question of whether what we do makes a difference, or is it just something we do?  I know the effect the Warriors’ Seth Curry has had on his team.  Are we as good as Curry when it comes to impact, or are we assuming everything we do must be compelling just because we’re doing it?

There are no radio people on the list of the 100 most influential digital marketers.  Is it maybe because we’re great radio people and just ok social people?



Frost Advisory #315 – Relevant, Then Interesting

How you answer this question can determine the success of your station.  Relevant… or interesting?

Choosing only content that is relevant to your listener forces the talent to put the listener ahead of themselves.  This profound realignment of priorities is a paradigm shift from what is interesting to the talent to what is relevant to the listener.

In other words, does your station serve your listeners or just serve your own interests?


Hearing irrelevant content on the air is the result of air talent first looking for things that are “interesting” and then trying to make them relevant.  That is how one ends up hearing things like Shirley Temple’s birthday, National Pickle Week, and what I did on my summer vacation.

Without an objective filter of relevance to the listener, the talent resorts to becoming sort of a content assembly line, paying little attention to whether what they say enhances the listener’s experience or fulfills their expectations of the station.

Ego rears its ugly head when we assume that the listener will care about anything we decide to talk about.  It’s not true in life and it’s certainly not true in radio.

As a budding 23-year-old disc jockey I was hired at my first “big” station where everyone on the air was better than me.  Frankly, they were all so much better that my insecurities had me convinced that they had actually hired me by mistake.

After the ink on my deal was securely dried, I got up the courage to ask my new PD, “Why in the world did you hire me?”  He smiled and responded, “It was one break you did on your audition tape.”  He had heard me give a phone number on a throwaway PSA followed by, “you might want to write that down on the dust on your dashboard.”

That one unassuming break told my soon to be programming mentor all he needed to know about this young air talent; those who put the listener first are those who are willing to learn.

Chris Rice echoed that idea years later in his song “The Other Side of the Radio.”

“Cause it’s you and me singing the same song right now
And maybe this will bring us together somehow
And maybe there’s a million people all singing a long
Somebody started thinking about the third line
And maybe someone’s saying a prayer for the first time
And that’s enough reason to keep me singing my song,
Singing my songs, on the other side of the radio.”

Tommy Kramer Tip #160 – Deliver INFORMATION, not Guesses

On a recent ‘listen’ to a guy in New York that I coach, he came out of a Peter Gabriel tune by saying “I still remember when that song was in ‘Say Anything’… back in the late 80s or early 90s… that John Cusack film…”

Oops.  Incomplete prep.  Not good.  With all the resources we have today, there’s simply no reason to not have the information ready.  He could have (1) looked it up on, (2) Googled the movie, or (3) just asked Siri.

Here’s what I told him: People don’t tune in to hear you GUESS about things.  You’re supposed to KNOW, whether it’s just when a movie came out, or what time an act will go onstage at a concert the station is hosting, or telling me about a contest or promotion.  Deliver information, not just guesses.  YOU’RE the authority.  (Or at least you SHOULD be.)

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

What’s Your Story?

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”
~Seth Godin


Apple has a story.  Budweiser has a story.  Nike has a story.  In-N-Out Burger has a story.  Most successful brands do.  They have a story beyond their “product” that has been burned into the minds of the consumer.

Microsoft doesn’t.  Microsoft is a utility program – a good one – but a utility program mostly purchased transactionally instead of emotionally. There aren’t a lot of positive Microsoft stories.  Stories are what people remember.

Take that all down to the level of say, your radio station, and how does it translate?  Is there a story you tell everyone about the station – one that is about the music, but beyond the music at the same time?    Something that taps into your listener’s passion?  Something that’s uniquely yours and not shared by other stations in the same format?

This post is a “how to” one.  Here are two people who can help:

The right story starts with the “why.”  Simon Sinek’s concept links well with media brands.  You just have to figure out why your station does what it does, and why people become fans.  Chances are you can weave those into a terrific story.

You can also find help from author Donald Miller’s Storybrand site.  You may recall Miller from his book, “Blue Like Jazz.”  Someday, when I have enough time, I’m going to attend his sessions on building your brand’s story.  But I’ve already learned from him the value and importance of the right kind of story.