Tommy Kramer Tip #173 – Happy Generic Fluff

It’s so different on the other end of the radio.

Recently, a morning show I just starting working with did a break on “Words to not use with kids.”  Obviously, it was some article they plucked off the internet, and it sounded like it.  They thought it was “interesting”, but to me it was just the easiest road to take, pumping something into the show that was actually just “filler” stuff to take up space between the banner ads on some website.

What I told them:
This isn’t a break that we “make better”. It’s a break that we don’t do.

“Happy generic fluff” is NOT meaningful Content, especially when it just sounds like a self-help or “motivational” book.  Be better than that.  You’re here to share your thoughts and feelings on things that matter most to the listener TODAY.  Not “The 16 Most Important Foods to Avoid” which is usually subtitled something like “Number 9 will amaze you!”  (It never does.  And I’m going to keep eating hot sauce until it flows out of my ears, no matter what it does to my stomach lining.)

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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.

Measuring Success

“Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo.  What is vertigo?  Fear of falling?  No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling.  It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”
~Milan KunderaThe Unbearable Lightness of Being


Today I was helping a friend write a job description, and I encountered the term “measurable.”  It was something her organization was asking for, and while I understood the term and intent, I’m not sure that’s the real answer.

Success isn’t about whether you can have “measurable,” it’s about whether you’re accomplishing anything.  I always substitute the term “goal” for measurable and it changes everything.

A measurable is something you can measure, a goal is something you’ve accomplished.  Too often “measurable” is measuring activity, and not accomplishment.  It doesn’t matter if you can supply a score to a basketball game without a hoop, it matters whether you score enough points to win.

That’s what goals are about, not measuring activity but measuring accomplishment.

Frost Advisory #328 – Trump v. Clinton, and Your Radio Station

It’s here.  Likely the most eyeballs ever staring at the two presidential candidates, and they with the highest negative ratings ever.

It’s a made for TV reality show for better or for worse.

What can our stations learn from these unusual times?


Basic Trout and Reis positioning suggests attaching your product or service to what is on everyone’s mind.  That common ground thing, don’tchaknow?  Then connect what’s on everyone’s mind to the benefits of your brand.

As the headlines focus more and more on discouragement, there is another choice.

Tommy Kramer Tip #172 – Learn From Mike Nichols, Part 3

In his last interview, the great director, actor, and comedian Mike Nichols really opened the door to what fueled his process.

I’ve talked about a couple of his concepts in the last two tips, but this one may be the most important one when it comes to understanding what really creates a distinguishable and memorable presence on the air:

Your show, like a movie or play, isn’t totally real life. It’s a VERSION of real life.  And your persona on the air isn’t totally you.  It’s a VERSION of you.

Don’t really like an artist you play?  I doubt if saying that on the air will endear you to the listener who adores that artist.

Reading something for the 50th time this week?  Make it sound like you just thought of it, and you have a real INTEREST in it.

Can’t stand kids?  Well, depending on the format, you may not want to reveal that fact.

My friend and partner John Frost talks about being “transparent” on the air, and I agree, with my version being “Crack your chest open and show us what’s in there.”  BUT, I don’t believe in total transparency.  Some things aren’t useful, or reveal a side of you that may work against trying to win over more listeners.

As I’ve taught this over the years, many times the reaction has been indignant, with something like, “But that’s not me.”

You do get that Tom Hanks isn’t really Forrest Gump, right?  And he’s not the guy in Saving Private Ryan, either.  It’s ACTING.  However, each of those characters IS a version of him.

If you need help creating the most effective version of you, get it.  Every athlete, every actor has a coach… for that very reason.

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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.

Who’s Creative?

“But there’s a difference between having artistic interests and being psychotic.  That’s more than a fine line of differentiation, and I do see that a bit too much.”
~Crispin Glover


I hear so much about creativity, and I see so little of it.

The world seems to be divided into four groups:

  1. Those who think they’re creative and really aren’t.
  2. Those who really are creative.
  3. Those who think they’re not creative.

You can see my point, perhaps.  I believe God blessed everyone with the ability to be creative in some way, and I think many of the people who think they’re creative really aren’t.  They may be good synthesizers, or good connectors, but they don’t really create.  But if you challenge them on it you’ll be surprised at the vehemence of response!

This is the kind of thing you really only admit to yourself in the dark of night when no one else is around.

My experience is that the people who go psycho aren’t the truly creative, but those who think they are but really aren’t.  They’ll go to any length to build an argument about how their creativity is the reason an organization is successful.  They take one crayon from the box and deem that this color is creativity and everything else isn’t.  They’ll pound their square version of creativity into the round hole whatever it takes.  And some of us believe it.

But they’re not the people I really want us to think about.  I’m more interested in the people who think they’re not creative because they don’t understand the universal law.  Everyone is creative in their own area in their own way.  Your color is in the crayon box if you’ll just look for it!

I’ve seen a lot of people who misinterpret what creativity is, and continue to believe they’re not, and because that’s their belief they become what they think.  They can’t be creative because everyone has always told them they weren’t, or held them back from playing around, or simply reinforced their belief system.

You, my friend, are creative.  I don’t know in what way, and I don’t know how, but you are.  God has blessed us all with creativity, not just a chosen few.  If you don’t give up on it, you’ll find your creativity when the opportunity comes along.  As long as you haven’t shut that door.



Frost Advisory #327 – Let’s Be Ordinary

The good thing about being ordinary is that you don’t have to work at it.  Just do the same old thing.  Today’s show is yesterday’s show.  Last year’s promotion is this year’s.

Radio is like a light switch.  Turn it on and something happens.  If that something is what listeners expect, good things can happen.  If it is better than listeners expect then it is no longer ordinary.


I recently walked the halls where no one in the station was listening to the station.  Why should they?  It was ordinary.

Ordinary radio stations are a commodity.  You can take ’em or leave ’em.

“A commodity is a product or a service that no one cared enough about to market.

Marketing creates value, by combining stories, design and care. The product or service is produced in a way that makes engaging with the item better.”
~Seth Godin

If you don’t work hard, if you don’t innovate, if you don’t stretch your own limits the result will be ordinary.   And anyone can do that.

Tommy Kramer Tip #171 – Learn From Mike Nichols, Part 2

Legendary film and theater director, actor, producer, and comedian Mike Nichols did an interview just before he passed away, sharing many of his unique perspectives on what makes people watch and listen to you.

One of them was this thought:  There are only 3 scenes:  Negotiations, Seductions, and Fights.

For radio purposes, Negotiations – with the listener or with a partner – work if they’re well done.  Events, Contests, etc. need to be worth the listener’s time; that’s what we’re negotiating for.

Our “Seductions” aren’t about sexiness. Our “seduction” is about attracting the listener to you and making him or her want to come back again, or for more time, or more frequently.

And our Fights are really just situational banter.  Unlike a play or movie, we may only have the audience for a few minutes.  So while emotions play a huge part in pulling the listener one step closer, remember that we have to be “friends at the end”.  Nobody goes to a party to see a guy fight with his wife.

If you want to learn more about this, well… just click or call.

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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.

The Value Of Never Giving Up

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”
~Pele, sort of ok “football” player.

I spent some time at the Oregon coast recently, which brought me to the guy on the skim board, in front of our rental.

He, at least I think it was a he, hard to tell with a wet-suit.  But that’s not the point.

In this shot, it looked like he was trying to become one with the ocean.  He leaned over, studied the water, and then stepped off into the waves.

As much as I’d like to make this a story of overcoming adversity, but it’s not.  Time after time he stepped off and lost the board in the first wave.  Good thing he was wearing a wetsuit.

The remarkable thing to watch was how he never gave up.  Time after time he’d step off, not make it, and do it over.  I found myself really respecting his refusal to give up when I knew many people I know would call him a failure.

The problem with being perfect is that that guy is already taken.  There’s only one perfect person, and I’m ok with that.  For the rest of us, we can only accept it.

So whoever you were out there along the Lincoln City beach, a digital high five from all of the rest of us who understand not giving up and applaud your efforts.

Frost Advisory #326 – The Love of Learning

This was Carlos’ first Momentum.  Our 30-minute coaching session began with, “I will do anything to learn and get better.”  Carlos is my new friend.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”
~Henry Ford

Contrast Carlos’ attitude to the program director that doesn’t show up for the coaching sessions with his air staff and consultant.  Or the morning show deejay that is only willing to repeat bits from his previous station rather than learn what is meaningful in a new format.  Or the boss who keeps stressing he has 20 years of experience, making it all the more obvious to his team that it’s really only one year of experience 20 times.

What did you learn at #cmbmomentum16?


“Give us content, stories, or any reason to tell all of our friends and the entire world about you.”
~Erin Branham

“When you change everything IN you it will change everything AROUND you.  Your attitude makes all the difference.”
~Clay Scroggins

“Come up with more different ways for them to love you.”
~Paul Jacobs

Here’s an idea!  Take three things you learned at Momentum and implement them right away at your radio station.  That, more than any memo you write or speech you give, will demonstrate that you love learning.

“When do you think most people stop learning?

Is it when we already know how to do something?

Is it when we have some success under our belts?

Is it when we imagine there’s nothing left to learn, no one knows something we don’t, or when we come to believe we know it all?

Whenever it is, it’s too soon, and it’s too bad, because we’ve always got a lot to learn… no matter how much we already know.”
~Mark Beeson

Tommy Kramer Tip #170 – Learn From Mike Nichols, Part 1

Mike Nichols was one of the most talented people ever.  Grammy Award-winning improv comedian with his partner, Elaine May.  NINE-time Tony winner for directing on Broadway, Academy Award winning Director (The Graduate), and on and on.

One of the plays Nichols directed was Neil Simon’s most brilliant work, “The Odd Couple”.  If you know the play (or the movie), you know that some of the funniest scenes are Oscar Madison’s poker nights, with great character actors playing each part.  But in rehearsal, it wasn’t working.  So Nichols huddled up with the actors and told them, “Lines delivered as ‘punch lines’ don’t work.  It has to sound ACCIDENTAL to work.”

In radio, it’s the same, even when it’s not about being funny.  In something as simple as bringing up a subject, just one sentence – even just one phrase – can make the difference between sounding like you’re just sharing something, as opposed to “presenting” or “announcing” it.  (Or even worse, just reading something.  Eww.)

If you haven’t mastered this “accidental” sound yet (and about 90% of air talents haven’t), get some help.  We’ve all heard enough “heeeerrre comes a punch line!” people on the air.

Radio’s still a great way to make a living, and there’s no time limit.  You can do it ’til you drop dead at the microphone – IF you know what you’re doing.

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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.