Frost Advisory #320 – There’s Something Wrong!

“There’s something wrong!”,  declared the analysis.   Well, it must be true!  They had a nifty graph and everything!


It’s tempting to assume that something is meaningful just because it can be graphed, or just because it made the headlines, (never more obvious to me than after two weeks of staring at political conventions).  Those assumptions are often the result of what Dan and Chip Heath refer to as “The Spotlight Effect”.

“We are quick to jump to conclusions because we give too much weight to the information that is right in front of us, while failing to consider the information that’s just offstage…

…The spotlight only lights one spot.  Everything outside it is obscured.  When we begin to shift the spotlight from side to side the situation starts to look very different.  And that, in essence, is the core difficulty in decision making.

What’s in the spotlight will rarely be everything we need to make a good decision, but we won’t always remember to shift the light.   Sometimes, in fact, we’ll forget there’s a spotlight at all, dwelling so long in the tiny circle of light that we forget there’s a broader landscape beyond it.”

If we look outside the spotlight of this analysis of song themes we discover something else just offstage.  Maybe these songs were written, sung, and produced for something other than filling a theological quota.  Maybe they were written to inspire, touch the heart, and to be loved.

There is a natural and indisputable friction between art and science.  Great stations understand that art and science need to be applied distinctly.

I know of a radio station that had this so confused that they actually had created a place in the hourly clock for what they called, “The God break”.  (I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP, as Dave Barry would say.)  Yep, at 20 past the hour you could tune in every hour and hear some deejay obligated to say something religious.  Got to fill that quota, don’tchaknow!
This misuse of analytics is a reminder that a great radio station, like a magnificent piece of art or a much loved song, is never the result of paint by the numbers.

“The left hemispheres of our brains are wired for empirical, scientific, objective reality: absolute truth.The right hemispheres of our brains are sponges thirsty for impressions, symbols, metaphors, connections and patterns. These patterns can be auditory, visual or behavioral.

Auditory patterns are called music.   Visual patterns are called art.

Behavioral patterns are called personality.   The more complex the pattern, the deeper the beauty.”
~Roy Williams

The deeper the beauty.   Hmm.  Let’s see a graph of that!

I’m not suggesting that the lyrics to Christian music shouldn’t be meaningful and theologically sound, but to conclude there is “something wrong” because there are ten times more songs about love than fear infers that there is “something right” about some other possible ratio.   Maybe we could do 50/50 in morning drive, and adjust to 70/30 when the kiddos get out of school!

The best radio stations are those that apply the left-brained science (music research, clock structure, format execution) to create compelling right-brained art; art that inspires, offers hope, and helps connects us to God and our values.

As long as we’re creating some charts,  what’s the deal with all these songs about Christmas and none about The Feast of Unleavened Bread?

Tommy Kramer Tip #164 – Information and Details = Ugh

The words “information” and “details” are poisonous words.  You should try to avoid them.

If you’re a regular follower of my tips, you know that “left brain” thoughts or words don’t really click with the listener as much as “right brain” stuff.

For the uninitiated, the left brain is about order, reason, math, numbers, percentages.  The right brain is where emotion, art, creativity and allegiance all live.

When you say something like “Find the details on our website” or “Go to my Facebook page for more information,” what people HEAR is “There’s a bunch of crap in a really tiny font that you can go read.”

What you SHOULD say is something like “Find out more on my Facebook page” or “Everything you need to know is at” instead.

You’re talking to a PERSON, not a robot getting information.

ALWAYS live in the right brain.  “A juicy steak” is better than just “a 14-ounce rib-eye.”  You want to paint PICTURES with words, not numbers or lists.

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

You See What You Want To see

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”
~Friedrich Nietzsche

I’ve been deeply involved with exploration into the Millennial generation for the past 18 months, and it’s an interesting venture.

No matter what we find in the research, there are people that are going to see the group as slackers, entitled, living with mom and dad, and even the generation that will destroy America.

The truth is that Millennials are an exciting generation that will bring huge, important changes to society that are good, as well as their own “lens” on life.  I was at a meeting with some interns last week, and I left the meeting feeling very optimistic and excited to see what the future holds with these talented people.

But, no matter what research we present, or how many Millennials they talk to, some people will only see them through the lens of their own interpretation or perspective.  They aren’t able to see the potential good, only the negative image portrayed by the media.  Some of those who are unable to change their interpretations will miss an opportunity to build a sustainable media palate that appeals to Millennials, and will wind up fading away with the boomer generation.

Whether you are a small, single station in the Midwest, or a larger broadcast organization on the West Coast, or yes… a Network, you’re going to be impacted by the Millennials, a generation significantly larger than the boomers.  Simple facts of life – like nobody gets out alive – means that things are going to change.  Every day, 10,000 baby boomers file for Social Security.  It’s inevitable.

But it’s not “bad.”  Do your own investigation of the generation, talk with them and really listen, understand how they’re different, and how they’re not.  Embrace the change, and ask for their help in navigating through the changes.  Don’t just sit there complaining while the juggernaut gets closer and closer, and finally runs right over you.



Frost Advisory #319 – Ice Cream, Sunburns, and Your Radio Station

Our minds crave simplicity.

The doctor says to take a pill.  We eagerly agree because its simple.  Until he tells us that the pill will cause us to lose our hair.  Ouch!  Now it becomes more complicated and not such a great idea.

Just look at the presidential election campaigns.  Political viewpoints are compressed into 140 character Twitter feeds and 20 second soundbites.  Ask ten people why they are supporting Donald or Hillary and nine will respond with one sentence.

“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

Correlation v. causation

“Every time we see a link between an event or action with another, what comes to mind is that the event or action has caused the other.”*

That’s causation.

On the other hand “correlation is an action or occurrence that can be linked to another”, but “linking one thing with another does not always prove that the result has been caused by the other.”*


Our desire for simplicity drives us to conclude that one thing causes another simply because they occurred at the same time.


The ratings went up because we added new jingles!

The ratings went down because we had fewer traffic reports!

Our biases cause us to value things we know, mostly things inside the radio station, and to undervalue what we don’t know, mostly things outside the station.  That’s why it is so easy to imagine how tweaking the Farm Report increased the ratings than consider how the meter/diary holder’s two-week vacation impacted our numbers.

Successful radio stations strive not for answers than are simple, but answers that are true.  But, darn it, that demands effort and thought.

Tommy Kramer Tip #163 – Fun Grows out of Relevance

The future of radio – no matter how it’s delivered – is going to be about Personalities.  Air Talent that seems like your best, most entertaining friend; that person that always finds just the right word to describe something that we’re both going through or thinking about.

But radio isn’t the Chuckle Shack.  We’re not standup comedians, and shouldn’t really want to seem like that, anyway.  You just want to be that one person that always gets invited to the party because you’ll be interesting and amusing, and make the person who’s hosting the party look good for inviting you.

Here’s the way it works:

Job One is to only talk about things that are relevant and top-of-mind to the listener.  Once you’re zeroed in on “narrow focusing” your Content to that degree, Fun grows out of that.

But there’s a difference between being perceived as fun versus seeming like someone “trying to be funny”.  I think that the very core of “trying to be funny” is when you take something that ISN’T relevant and attempt to make it entertaining.

You have to CHOOSE.  One way leads to tremendous, never-ending growth.  The other leads to actually having to WORK for a living.  Ewww.

Work joyfully on getting better.  If you hit a wall, get a coach.

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