Frost Advisory #598 – It Is Impossible For A Man To Learn What He Thinks He Already Knows

30 years ago this week I was involved one of the most transformative transitions of my broadcasting career. And the amazing thing is that I didn’t seek it out nor did I initially realize the value it would have in my career. But I was wrong.

Choosing to be a lifelong learner is a great gift to yourself.

I occasionally run across people without a learning spirit. They do what they do and that’s all they want to do. I once worked with a morning man on a CCM station that simply repeated the bits he did on his previous Oldies station.

Whether routed in laziness or fear of the unknown it keeps people stuck, both in skill level and perspective. I think this is particularly challenging for someone who’s been at one radio station for a long time. While longevity certainly has its benefits, I can only imagine what my limited perspective on programming would be if I had spent several decades at my first station, a 500-watt AM station in my hometown in west Texas.

My greatest value to stations is that I’ve just spent time with some of the smartest broadcasters in our format. I see their challenges. I’ve been a part of those conversations. I’ve seen the solutions they come up with and understand the outside perspective.

Every time I’m around smart people they make me better.

Continue reading

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #451: The Layer of Superficiality

If you haven’t had much (or any) coaching, let me help you with the thing I hear most.

I’d estimate that at least 90% of the time, the first time I listen to someone, I hear a layer of superficiality.  (Oddly enough, it’s even worse with team shows.)  Something real-ish, but not quite real.  A “smiley” sound in the voice, elongated “mock” differences of opinion (in a team show), a delivery that isn’t intimate or personal, extended setups to get into something – it’s almost always there, holding back that talent from sounding like they’re actually talking to me.  Some suggestions:

  1. Use real words – words that real people use in everyday conversations.
  2. Develop your mic technique, so you can speak in a normal tone of voice.
  3. Don’t get too officious with your language.
  4. RELAX and “let off the gas.”  I’m only a couple of feet away in the car.  LOUD is annoying, unless it’s a genuine moment.

If you ever had anyone ask you to “Say something in your radio voice,” the answer should be, “I don’t have one.  I just talk.”

Frost Advisory #597 – Bring Me The Bad News!

(Seven years ago this week I attended the funeral of Lowell “Bud” Paxson, a man I can honestly say changed my life and the lives of dozens of others who were privileged to work for him. For those of you who have just tuned in I think it’s appropriate for me to share this Frost Advisory again.)

A couple of weeks ago I shared observations on leadership from the book, “Breakfast with Fred,” the conversations and ideas of Fred Smith, Sr, a mentor for many leaders such as Zig Ziglar, Philip Yancey, John Maxwell, and my friend Steve Brown.

Little did I realize that within a couple of weeks I would be attending the funeral of the greatest leader I have ever personally known, Bud Paxson.

Continue reading

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #450: Show, Visit, or Nothing

Ideally, you’re doing a Show.  (Not just a ‘shift.’)

But at least, you should do a Visit.

…and if you’re just reading liners, promoting stuff, and intro’ing songs, you’re doing… nothing.

As I wrote about in the last tip, the goal should be both a Visit AND a Show.  That’s what I coach, because historically, that’s what works the best.  The combination of both of those elements will compel people to listen.

Frost Advisory #596 – If You’re Not A Christian Or A Church Person…

If your station had a Christmas music strategy and it was effective, it has more listeners today than it did two months ago. For a format that plays mostly unfamiliar music from a new listener’s perspective, that is a HUGE opportunity. After all…

Everyone’s favorite station is the station that plays their favorite music.

Don’t blow it.

I’ve noticed that when Andy Stanley shares a message he purposely speaks his content directly to insiders AND outsiders. “If you’re not a Christian or church person…” leads into a camera angle specifically designed to effectively communicate to a specific group. Then he’ll direct a similar message to those, like most of us, that have been going to church since before we were born.

Continue reading

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #449: Another Lesson from George Carlin

It would be hard, if not impossible, for any comedian to even remotely approach the vast volume of material that George Carlin had.  One of his pieces is a real lesson for radio (which is where George began his career, in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana).  The routine was about “saving the planet,” with George pointing out that “The planet will outlive you, and will heal itself.”

But he had an interesting take on how that piece affected his performance, saying “That piece was very thoughtful, and very interesting, and I loved it, but I had to learn that there were times in the show when it was okay NOT to get laughs.  Because one of the jobs I have besides getting laughs is to engage the imagination.  If I make them laugh along the way, that’s part of the deal for me.”

That’s part of the deal for you, too.

If all you have to offer is “funny,” you’re going to be one-dimensional.  If a plane flies into a building again, no one’s going to turn to you for your thoughts on it.  A show needs changes of gear and depth, at least some of the time, to become great.

I was fortunate to be half of a team show in Houston (“Hudson & Harrigan”) that was known for laughs – lots of them – but we could do sincere and down-to-earth, too.

If you don’t have those elements, you need some coaching.

Frost Advisory #595 – How Your Station Can Be A Blessing

“Blessing” is not a word we kick around often in strategic planning meetings, and certainly not in budget meetings. But I reckon’ it’s a pretty good word.

One of the definitions for “blessing” is “something that helps you or brings happiness.” (Merriam-Webster dictionary)

My friend Brant Hansen shares, “Literally blessing means to add value. How can I bless the listener today?”

He digs into the process, or more accurately the WORK.

Continue reading

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #448: The First Step Up

In coaching young air talent, there’s always that moment when you assess what their specific gift is – that one thing that stands out about each person – and you have to find a way to broaden their vision.

That’s when the first challenge is issued – to become more consistent.  Anyone can have a good hour or a good show, but getting that to be EVERY hour, EVERY day, is “the first step up.”

Some people think the work is done with a good week, or a good month.  But that’s just scratching the surface.  Take any TV show that runs for years, and you see this challenge met.  The first episode hopefully makes people like the show, and want to see it again.  But it also sets a standard of what the viewer expects FROM the show every time they tune in. Continue reading

Frost Advisory #594 – Celebrate What You Value

The beginning of a new year seems to me to be a good time to consider how we internalize the values in our organizations.

Andy Stanley suggests, “Just start celebrating what you value. People will value what you celebrate, and they will celebrate what you value.”

I’ve recently been reading, “Breakfast with Fred,” the conversations and ideas of Fred Smith, Sr, a mentor for many leaders such as Zig Ziglar, Philip Yancey, John Maxwell and my friend Steve Brown.

“When Fred was in his early twenties, he visited a cemetery and asked himself what he would want the epitaph on his tombstone to read. It was at that moment he chose the phrase that would set his life direction: ‘He stretched others.'”

Continue reading