Living In A Bubble

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
~Abraham Lincoln


I realized recently how success… or failure… can change your perspective.  But especially when you’re successful, you can begin living in a bubble.  Suddenly everything is seen through the lens of your success, which tends to lead you to see anything and everything in a way that reinforces that last success.  No need to examine alternatives or a wider perspective on the world, just where you are and where you’ve been.  It’s one of those “if I close my eyes no one can see me” strategies.

It’s calm inside the bubble because there’s never anything bigger to wrestle with. You’re the most successful person in the bubble, but it’s such a small part of the world around you.  The bubble keeps you from growing and expanding, and you don’t realize how small you seem to those outside of it.  Until one day the bubble bursts, and you feel the full force of reality.

How do you know if you’re in a bubble?  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I pretty much doing the same thing over and over, enjoying the celebration around me?
  • Are you doing those things with essentially the same people who, being inside the bubble with you, are the only ones who have your trust?
  • Do you fight new ideas that are nearby, but outside your sphere of influence?
  • Do you spend more time on managing to keep things outside the bubble from breaking in than you do scanning the horizon for new ideas?

Here’s a thought from the Crosby Retreat I attended in New York recently:  Somewhere someone’s planning something that will disrupt your success.  Or maybe burst your bubble.

Frost Advisory #346 – Make It Better

Recently I was with a well-known leadership guru who shared his organization’s mantra for creating a culture of excellence.  He distilled everything down to what he described as three basic ideas.

  1. Make it better
  2. Make it better
  3. Make it better

He stressed that it is more than just a pithy way of emphasizing his organization’s desire for improvement.  It was their way of empowering every person in the organization to look for tangible ways to make their part of the process, from idea to execution, better today than it was yesterday.

So, what would this look like in the key areas of programming?

Make it better by only playing songs listeners love.  Weed out the so-so and ones without broad consensus.  Unfamiliar new songs must be exposed carefully and enough that listeners can become familiar with them.

Make it better by delivering what Mark Ramsey describes as “what they hired you for.”  Meet expectations. Be relevant and interesting (in that order).  Program directors can help by assessing a talent’s “batting average,” and helping them increase it over time.

Make it better by focusing promotions on the needs and benefits of the listeners.   Ask ‘Why should they care?’  Make it better by designing in your station’s brand values.  (Of course, your station has to actually have brand values.  See Frost Advisory #238—Celebrate What You Value.)

Service Elements (such as news, weather, and traffic)
Make it better by remembering all non-music elements are an interruption and must add value to the listener’s experience.  Information is either relevant or it’s not.  As my friend Dean O’Neal says “there is nothing more irrelevant than a traffic report for traffic you’re not in.”

“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. Don’t look for the quick, big improvement.  Seek the small improvement one day at a time.  That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts.”
~Legendary coach John Wooden

*Photo from a get-together of Chick-fil-A‘s best customers at The Hatch in Atlanta to talk about how to make it better.

Tommy Kramer Tip #190 – Tying a Neat Bow Around It

There’s this virus floating around – you get to the end of a break, and instead of just getting out, you try to “tie a neat bow around it” at the end.

Don’t, please.  These “summations” sort of treat the listener like he or she is an idiot.  Always assume that the Listener is AT LEAST as smart as we are.

We’re not doing Aesop’s Fables here.  When you resort to “The moral of the story is…” that just sounds preachy; even smug.  While “Preachy & Smug” might be a great name for a morning team on a Sports station, it’s certainly NOT how a station in any other format should want to be perceived.  : -)

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Beyond Just The Games

“Unless you are prepared to give up something valuable you will never be able to truly change at all, because you’ll be forever in the control of things you can’t give up.”
~Andy Law


Pandora now has an app for the Microsoft XBOX system.

Not really earth shaking… or is it?

Gaming is huge, which draws people to XBOX, and then XBOX provides them an entrée into movies, the web, and music.

Pandora uses Kinect to allow people to listen, vote, and change songs with just a gesture.  So Pandora has now integrated themselves into yet another popular distribution channel.  Have you heard the old story about finding a parade getting in front of it?

But both may soon be rendered obsolete as Virtual Reality achieves broad acceptance over the next five years.  Change is a fact of life.

My point here is to show how unimaginative and lame most of our radio apps are.  Radio will not continue to succeed by being “good enough,” at a time when the life cycle of an app becomes shorter and shorter.  Let’s do something different that really intrigues the listener/consumer, and be prepared to understand that change is faster and more constant than ever.

Frost Advisory #345 – Our Biggest Problem Is…

We don’t strive for exceptional.

Our nature is to be ordinary.

Exceptional is “forming an exception or rare instance; unusual; extraordinary”.

The problem with being exceptional is not that we don’t know what it is.  The problem with being exceptional is that it goes against our nature.

Our default is always playing those extra songs that our listeners don’t know and don’t love, not the discipline of just playing the ones they love and tune to us for.

Our default is always talking too much, not the precision of “just the right amount.”

Our default is always “any time, any city,” not “right here, right now.”

Our default is always fluff, not being meaningful.

Our default is always formal, not being natural and conversational.

Our default is always bland, not surprise and delight.

The trouble is…

…great radio is hard work.

The easiest thing is never the best thing.

“You get what you accept.

If we accept a high standard, we will be rewarded with results consistent with that standard.  If we accept that other people can talk over us, and detract from our message, then we will not be heard.  If we only accept a best effort, then we will receive exactly that – no less.”
~Chris Oliver