Tommy Kramer Tip #67 – Bumpers: Why?

In the continuing battle to get more “right brain” elements into radio stations, I recently had a client station that was still playing “bumpers”—those things that would end a break by the morning team with a bumper (what some people call a “punctuator”) like “Shaker and Blotto…on 102.5 The Rock” into the commercial stopsets.

Bumpers were a bad idea when they first came on the scene a couple of decades ago, and one of the main uses for them was in syndicated shows. The thinking was that you had to remind the listener (who apparently must be an idiot to most programmers) what the name of the show was, and/or what the name of the station was. But in the real world—the listener’s world—he hears the show’s name or the station’s name, then a commercial. So guess what image is carried forward? You = commercials. Plus, the bumper destroys the First Exit, the most powerful radio technique I’ve ever come up with, by literally stopping the momentum instead of moving forward seamlessly and having the spotbreak on you almost before you’re even aware of it. (If you’re unfamiliar with The First Exit, please see Tip #3 on my blog site.)

It’s easier to see how nonsensical this is if you visualize a real-life conversation. If we’re sitting over lunch talking and I make a good point, I don’t have an announcer come over to the table and say “Tommy Kramer!” after it. That would be very weird.

This is just another one of those old radio things that sounds Strategic in the planning stage, but is actually an incomplete thought. If you’re good, identify yourself regularly when it’s appropriate to do so, and have true Momentum, people will learn and remember who you are and where they heard it. Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory don’t use bumpers into commercials, so why should we?

Momentum trumps everything else. Period. Bumpers are an impediment to momentum. No amount of so-called “branding” can overcome that. While radio people see promos, bumpers, and commercials as different things, in the listener’s world, there are just two elements—Music, and things that aren’t music. To the listener, the bumper is just a commercial for you.

Oh, and let’s do away with the little movie and TV “drops” too. They were great 20 years ago, but they’re not new anymore. I say just get into the spotbreak, and make everyone else sound like they have to quack their names out before they can move forward.

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Tommy Kramer
Radio Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2014 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.