Frost Advisory #589 – It’s Beginning To Sound A Lot Like Christmas

“Christmas isn’t going away, and we’re going to have this discussion every year.”

Two decades ago I remember saying those words to my talented friends Jim Hoge and Dean O’Neal at Z88.3 in Orlando. I remember saying that because we DO have that discussion every year. With every station.

Their situation was unique in that “The Z” was on a fast growth curve, and it was rare for a Christian station to abandon its regular format and play nothing but Christmas tunes. Besides, there was already a mainstream AC doing all Christmas and they were #1 in the market. (That AC program director was also a tall, skinny kid from west Texas with an ever so manly radio voice).

In the most recent research not ONE of the Z88.3 fans indicated they listened to the Mainstream AC for Christmas music. Quite a transformation, I’d say.

Obviously, Christmas music wasn’t the only reason for The Z’s remarkable growth, but clearly Jim and Dean seized an opportunity to transform the format’s biggest competitive disadvantage (playing generally unfamiliar music) into a competitive advantage.

This week’s Frost Advisory includes an interview about Christmas music programming I did a while back with Andrew Curran, President and COO of DMR/Interactive.

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Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #442: Be More Than Just a Playlist

Since there are so many places to get the music now, you have to be more than just a playlist.

COMPANIONSHIP (especially in the car) is still really important.

PERSONALITY should be mandatory in EVERY daypart.

There should be “something going on” ALL the time, in every hour of the show – both “station things” and your own Content.

What you have in common with the Listener is what binds you together.  If you’re generic, you’re invisible.

Frost Advisory #588 – Encourage Me And I Will Not Forget You

This week’s Frost Advisory is a departure from my regular thoughts on how to make your radio station really nifty. Instead I’d like to take this moment during Thanksgiving week to encourage you in the important work you’re doing at your station.

I’m told that the word ‘encouragement’ literally means to pour courage into. This word appears over 100 times in the New Testament. In fact, one of the descriptors for the Holy Spirit is Encourager (Acts 9:31).

“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.”

William Arthur Ward
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Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #441: The Simplest Possible Way

The more words are used, the less the Personality stands out.  The more complicated a Promotion or Contest is, the less effective it is.

Keeping things simple from a formatic perspective should be married to keeping things as simple as possible in coaching talent, so they can perform in a way that truly resonates with the listener.

My methods, and the formatics I recommend are all about keeping it simple so there’s more “meat” in the Content – and even in the STYLE of the Content.  Our job in the coaching arena is to make it EASY to sound consistently top-notch every day.

Poisonous things can slip in – too many words in a forecast, the name of the station redundantly said again by rote at the end of a break (taking away any possibility of the First Exit that surprises the listener), goofy names for promotions that don’t tell us what the Promotion or Contest IS, reading crappy liners (that the station Imaging voice should read, if you simply must do them), etc. Guard against these.

It’s not just “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”  It’s “Keep it simple or I listen to something else.”

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #440: If You Don’t Know, Don’t Fake It

One of the offshoots of trying to read something on the air is that since ‘print words’ are not the way we actually talk, it erodes your authenticity.

Where I live, Louisiana, there are tons of local commercials on radio and TV, and way too many of them have the owner of the business – usually a balding guy with a golf shirt on, wearing a 32-inch belt over which hangs his 40-inch waist – telling you that he’ll give you the best deal on “America’s most popular midsize SUV luxury brand” and that his dealership is “Rated number one in customer service in a survey of repeat customers.”

Blah, blah, blah.  Words that he would never say – maybe no human would ever say – in a real conversation.  And we’re then obliged to see his wife, small children, and their dog SHOUT his name.  (Except the dog.  He barks.  He’s the best part of the spot.)

…or we hear some radio station disc jockey try to read something, and treat it like he (or she) just thought it up.

Listen:  Authenticity is self-revealing.  So is the lack of it.  If you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t fake it.

Frost Advisory #586 – Without Community You’re Just A Commodity

We work in a format that is inherently significant. And yet many stations sound more like a commodity, with little meaningful branding, content and personalities that help them stand out from the competition along the dial.

“Commodity is something that can be replaced, removed, exchanged for, or even ignored… for something that is better, faster, or cheaper. But community, that’s an entirely difference animal. A community is a sense of belonging. We all need it. We all need it now more than ever.”

Sangram Vajre

A couple of ideas on building community…

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Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #439: The Real Traffic Jam is Doing Traffic

The last two tips have questioned why music stations choose to do formal newscasts or formal weather forecasts (ski resorts and cities near volcanoes exempted). Now let’s deal with doing Traffic updates on the air…

Start by remembering that we’re living in the twenty-FIRST century.  “Here’s how we’ve always done it…” is a waste of time to even discuss.  Here’s why you don’t need to do what now passes for traffic updates:

  1. You can’t compete with the Navigation System in my car (or in my phone, for that matter).
  2. 99% of the time, Traffic reports are about traffic that I’m not in, and you can’t cover everyplace because the Update takes too long.

Here’s a different thought: Have a traffic update on the air be one listener reporting on one specific problem.  (“I’m Greg Blunderbuss, and here at the Fairfield ramp to I-20, there must be 30 cars backed up.”)  Maybe two people per update, different areas each time.  Whatever.  Just not a droning sea of information about someplace else.

And yes, these can still be sponsored. $