Tommy Kramer Tip #156 — The Tease Madness

Okay, it’s time to deal with the current thinking on teases, versus what actually works. Here are some excerpts from a couple of memos that real living, breathing Program Directors have given to their air talent recently…

“Eliminate as much as possible ‘I’ and ‘We’ and instead use ‘You’.”
Nothing wrong with that, until this PD illustrates just how to do it:

“You’ll be talking about our next story at work today.”
There’s no way you could possibly know what I’ll be talking about at work today (it could be, astonishingly, WORK related), and you need to STOP trying to tell the Listener what to think.

“You’re gonna love our new game, ‘Scratch and Sniff Audio’ in the next ten minutes.”
Again, you don’t know that I’m going to “love” it. My reaction (at least the one I can print) is “Meh…”…followed by a loud “click” as I punch another button on my radio.

“The thing most women do in the car that might be WORSE than texting and driving. You might be guilty of it, ladies, and we’ll find out in ten minutes.”
No, YOU may find out, but I don’t really give a crap. And I’m not “ladies.” Talk to ONE person. Don’t throw me into a “collective” that I didn’t ask to be part of. This destroys radio’s most unique strength – the one-on-one connection with the listener.

“Feeling smart today? The list of the Top 10 Smartest Cities is out.”
The answer to every question you ever ask on the air is either “NO” or “I don’t CARE.” And I already saw the list. EVERYBODY who cared already saw the list. It came up on the home page of every website, or on my iPhone – and it was ONLY THERE TO TAKE UP SPACE BETWEEN THE ADS.

“Would you like to take a break from parenting?”

(NO, I’d like to take a break from being asked rhetorical questions by an idiot who’s “pretending” to talk to me.)
“What the majority of parents are doing to get that break, in 7 minutes.”
This is too exact a time line. “In the next ten minutes” is what you want to say. ESPN tried this “Joe Namath interview in 13 minutes” type of thing – and it BOMBED. The whole PURPOSE of giving a Time Line in the first place is to tell me how long I have to listen to make SURE that I hear it. If I tune in (or stick around until) 7 minutes from now, you’d better by God be doing it. The minute you don’t, and I hear something ELSE when that’s supposed to be on, you’ve LIED to me – and I’ll never believe anything you say again.

Here’s what you can and should promote. (Notice that I don’t even USE the word “tease” in coaching.)
1 A contest. When I can win some money or concert tickets might actually matter to me.
2. A feature of the show. “The Hollywood Dish is next.”
3. When a guest will be on.
4. How I can find out more about a station event, or see video of something, or participate in something, on the station’s website or your Facebook page.
5. MAYBE…promote a new song by a core artist coming up. But even then, only do it when you’ve stopped down, NOT over another song, because then, the implied message is “since we know this song isn’t really very good, we’re going to try to get you to hang around by promoting a different one.”

That’s it. Nothing else is worth promoting.

Stop The Tease Madness.
If it matters to me (as a listener), it works. If it doesn’t (and just teasing some nebulous thing you’re going to talk about, like “What happened to Corkhead at the mall yesterday…in ten minutes” DOESN’T), then it doesn’t—and no amount of teasing will MAKE it matter. Other things should just come up naturally in the conversation – you know, like in real life.

Yes, I realize there’s a whole school of Programmers and Consultants that think otherwise, because of some sideways, momentary, imagined indicator in PPM. But don’t even get me started on how many holes there are in THAT methodology. Voltaire, the giant band-aid, anyone?

The biggest problem with the “always do a tease” mentality is that you remove any element of Surprise from the show. I seriously doubt if anyone would have gone to see “The Force Awakens” if a crawl came across the bottom of the screen, or one of the characters teased “Han Solo dies…in the next ten minutes.”

Here’s what actually works better than any attempt to manipulate the listener: say something really interesting or entertaining every single time you open the mic. And only promote things that he or she really cares about.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip $155 — Don’t Try

Here’s something your boss will probably never tell you: Don’t try.

How this translates to what we do is that sounding like you’re “trying” can be felt on the other end of the radio, and it pushes people away.

It’s got to seem easy, spontaneous, like you just thought of it. When you attempt to “sell” something, you’re missing the whole point. We want to SWAY the listener, draw her or him a step closer, convince that person break-by-break, day-by-day, that listening to you is the most valid choice.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t give it your best effort. You should be conscious of making even the simplest, most mundane break you do be bright, tight, pro, and polished. But “trying” comes across as “trying too hard” – maybe even begging for attention or validation. That never works.

So have fun today…but don’t “try”.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #154 — A Coaching Tip About Coaching

Okay, so you’d like your air staff to get better, but you don’t think you can afford someone like me or Randy Lane or Valerie Geller.

Let me help you with this thought: “It’s not ever about how good we are today. It’s about what we can do tomorrow to get even better.”

True coaching isn’t scolding or critiquing. It’s helping a talent always be refining things to get to another level. Strategy – the station’s strategy, the sound you want your jocks to have, the momentum you want to build into your formatics – dictates Tactics, NOT the other way around.

A CHR station, for instance, probably won’t do well with the typical “Rock Dog” approach we still hear on way too many Rock or Classic Rock stations. So you have to shape the on-air approach accordingly.

I would add two more guidelines: [1] One “big” thing, one “little thing” per session. For most air talents, this is all they can handle. Some advanced talents can handle more points, but I’d still shy away from a “laundry list” of things in any one session. [2] Be patient, but direct and specific in letting a talent know what you’re after. “I’ll know it when I hear it” only means that you’ll never hear it. Call a PLAY.

That’ll hold you until you can find the budget to hire a truly great talent coach. (The two people I mentioned are excellent. No doubt there are a few others.)

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #153 – What John Oliver Gets about Social Media that Most People Don’t

If I hear “Join the conversation” one more time, I’m going to scream. This is trite and uninspired. First of all, to me (the listener), it’s NOT a “conversation” UNTIL I join it. It’s just a bunch of people I don’t know jabbering away on Twitter. It ranks right up there with someone’s picture of kale zucchini on Instagram. (And any “conversation” about that should include the words “makes me want to hurl.”)

John Oliver, the wonderful host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” really gets how social media should be used. Instead of the nebulous, pandering, “What do you think?” or the even more beaten-to-death “join the conversation,” Oliver gives people something to DO.

Example: In April of 2016, Oliver did a piece on the expensive seats in Yankee Stadium in a prime location, known as the “Legends Club” – the first five rows of seats. Priority seating access, people (servants, actually) bringing your food to you so you don’t have to stand in line with the plebeians who have to wait for their lukewarm 15-dollar beer – you get the picture. Oliver quoted the Yankees’ COO actually saying — out loud — in a radio interview that “If you buy a ticket in a very premium location, we don’t want you to sell it for a buck and a half” to a fan who “may be someone who has never sat in a premium location…so that’s a frustration to our existing fan base.”

Indignant about this “rich people don’t like sitting next to people who aren’t rich” perspective, Oliver BOUGHT two “Legends” seats to each of the Yankees’ first three games – right behind home plate. And he offered to sell them to you for 25 CENTS, with the provision that you COULDN’T dress nicely!

To get them, you tweeted a photo of what you and a guest would wear to the game, with the hash-tag #IHAVENEVERSATINAPREMIUMLOCATION.

Totally intrigued by this, I saw the two winning fans at the first game, sitting with all the high rollers and multi-gazillionaires, dressed in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costumes! Well done, John Oliver, you strange but brilliant British fellow. If you get to Hawaii, come to my place, and we’ll sit in shorts, tee-shirts, and flip-flops (my attire EVERY day) and I’ll throw a steak on the grill for you.

The lesson: Let’s DO something, and get in on the ACTION, not just “join the conversation.”

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #152 – Fake Disagreements

Here’s something that needs to be clubbed to death, never to appear again:

I’m hearing a lot of “fake disagreements” these days on team shows. Person #1 says something, then Person #2 disagrees with it. Which does happen in real life. But you can’t just take a position because some Consultant or some PD told you that “conflict is interesting, and you’ll get more phone calls.”

First of all, the object of being on the air isn’t to get phone calls. It’s to be a good neighbor, and to be informative and entertaining. Sometimes that’ll be funny; sometimes you’ll disagree. But it has to born of a genuine emotion, not just put on like a coat, because it ALWAYS SHOWS.

Manufactured disagreements are like fake I. D.’s – they don’t really show who you are.

Here’s a tip in developing a more real, true to life sound. You can AGREE, but for different REASONS. (Actual people do this all the time. Let’s be like them.)

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #151 – All Morning People

Here’s how you build a great air staff, and keep them great over a long period of time, even with the natural ebb and flow of turnover:

Only hire people who could potentially do mornings. For EVERY daypart.

So many stations today are the morning show, then…everything else.
A lot of jocks doing nights or overnights (which, of course, might be a voice tracker nowadays) simply aren’t very dynamic or entertaining. Blah.

But PERSONALITIES should be in EVERY daypart.

Naturally, many of them won’t be fully hatched yet. But if you look for that spark, that “everybody at the party’s listening to this guy tell stories” ingredient, or someone who writes great copy, for instance, that’s a great starting place.

Because here’s the deal: people who DON’T have that Entertainment factor have a low ceiling on how good they can become.

Three centuries ago, I started in radio in my hometown doing all-nights. I wasn’t very good. But with a lot of mentoring, and the permission to try stuff AND permission to fail, three and a half years later, I moved from Shreveport to Dallas to begin the greatest adventure of my life. I wasn’t the best jock on that staff either, but that staff was all young bucks who would end up doing morning drive at some point in their careers. And we’re all in the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.

That can be YOUR staff, if you don’t just settle for a seat filler.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #150 – One Word

Just one word can change the listener’s perception of you. Indeed, in the moment, one word can change anything.

“The woman screamed when she saw a moose” is very different from “The woman screamed when she saw a mouse.”

“I took my daughter Angela…” tells me who this person is. “I took Angela…” doesn’t.

“We have Taylor Swift tickets to give away” is about you. “You can win Taylor Swift tickets!” is about me, the listener.

Choose your words carefully. Craft what you do on the air. Stop thinking of what you do as a shift, and think of it as a show. You’re here to be good company, to catch me up on things, and to entertain. Don’t just be “radio” good; be “down to earth, but definitely the life of the party” good.

It’s all about the performance.
And every word matters…both said and unsaid.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #149 – The Power of Certainty

Obviously there are exceptions, but for some reason, a lot of things I hear from jocks on music radio stations these days sound somewhat tenuous in their delivery. So let’s focus on that for a moment.

Here’s the goal:
Be SURE of what you want to say when the mic opens. Stumbling over words because you haven’t really digested them yet, or hemming and hawing around because you haven’t fully fleshed out the “story board” for this break, just makes you sound unprepared or weak.

CERTAINTY carries more weight than anything else. People who sound hesitant, or like the information owns THEM, don’t pull the listener in closer. They’re just audio wallpaper.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #148 — The Basics: a Tutorial

Many air talents these days can be virtually crippled before they even get to the point of a break. New theories of what works best for PPM are bandied about every month – many of them “incomplete thoughts” (like the “you have to do a tease at the end of each break” virus that’s going around now) – and many of them are based on faulty (or no) research, or are simply opinion without experience to back it up. Let’s work on that a bit…

The SIMPLEST formatics are the BEST formatics. All you really want is an efficient package of very basic things, but they should VARY from break to break. Let me be clear in advance that there are a lot of different ways to skin a cat. Some formats may prefer to not talk over song intros, syndicated shows may not do everything on this checklist, morning shows may have different clocks and needs, etc. So this is not the ONLY way, but it’s a pretty GOOD way to deliver the basic elements with some sense of engagement and style.

Say the name of the station first, every time. (There’s a reason the Jif label is on the OUTSIDE of the jar, not mixed in with the peanut butter somewhere.) The longer you take to identify who you are, the harder it is for the listener to remember you. And no, you can’t just rely on PPM devices to reflect that, because first of all, not every market is a PPM market, and secondly, PPM is simply the report card on listening AFTER the listener has decided to tune you in, which he wouldn’t have done if he didn’t know who you are and where to FIND you – which is easiest when they hear the name first. To PD’s who complain that this sounds the same every time or it’s boring, I remind them that this is not a reason to hide your name. Every single time a network TV show comes out of commercials, they flash the logo on the screen, first thing. We have to do it vocally. So this means that you have to coach the jocks to say the calls like they MEAN something; like we take some PRIDE in working here. (I coach many subtle techniques for this—matching the tempo of the song, matching the emotional vibe of the song, and for advanced students, even starting on the same NOTE that the song is playing.) Burying something because you do it poorly is not the answer. Get BETTER at it, instead.

Music stations’ basics should include the Artist and/or Song Title—but not always both, and certainly not always in that order. (And sorry, but album titles don’t matter. Who buys albums anymore? We just download the 4 cuts we like from iTunes. Stop thinking like an early 1970’s audiophile.)

In “drive” times, time checks should be given at least every time you stop down. DIGITAL time ONLY. “8:16,” not “16 minutes after eight o’clock.” It’s a digital world. Live in it. (I had a talent once who said “it’s twelve minutes after the hour of ten o’clock.” I told him “I don’t have TIME to listen to your time checks.”) And no “double” time checks (“3:15, that’s 15 after 3.”) The listener isn’t an idiot; stop treating him/her like one.

Your name, somewhere…not always in the same place. And not every break. Once in a while, in a song intro. Always, when you stop down.

So the template is: Name of the station first, everything else varies.
I used to write little symbols for each element (calls, artist, title, temp, time, my name), and just switch them around each break, so I didn’t repeat the same things in the same order over and over again. It worked like a charm. And of course, except for the name of the station, not every element was in every break.

Now comes the real art. With the opening “basics” out of the way, get into your Content in ONE line, two at the most. Any longer than that sounds needlessly wordy. Think “newspaper headline” (assuming that anyone remembers what a newspaper looks like).

If you do this right, you’ll be consistent, but you’ll have slight variations every break, which makes the brain receive what you say as NEW information every time. (Brainwave mapping has proven this. It’s not just an opinion. It’s called the Fourier Transform, and was developed at Cal Tech.)

It won’t take long to master this stuff, and if everybody buys in, you’ll have another layer of “stationality”. Why not start now?

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #147 — The Last Logical Place

One of the major themes in science fiction is that as the technology gets better, the skills atrophy. That’s why you see those old monster movies where alien beings had giant brains, but machines and computers did all the work for them, since their arms and legs had gradually degenerated to being useless twigs.
On our own planet, in Music radio, we’re hearing more of this “the machines are taking over” factor all the time. In a music sweep, for example, a song’s ending is a chord that hangs for 3 or 4 seconds, but one-tenth of a second into that hang time, the next song slams in (or the antsy jock starts talking), abruptly cutting off both the previous song and the mood. Cue tones on music, Imaging, and commercials are often set to fire the next element too soon, so the last word obliterates the beginning of the next thing, or gets drowned out by it. Or a song will end with a fade, but instead of hitting the next element at the end of a sentence, where it would seamlessly appear, we hear an extra couple of words (“And…if…”), then BLAM!…next song. Woof. Clumsy.

When it doesn’t even sound like you’re engaged with what you’re doing, why should I be, as a listener? I constantly hear stations with live jocks that sound voice tracked because of their lackluster board work.

As a Talent Coach, I want to help everything you do, not just what you say. Try this exercise: run the board manually for a few days, only putting it in “auto” mode when you go into stopsets, and your board op skills will get razor sharp. An element of FEEL will enter the picture, and then the cue tones can be changed to match it. Slamming songs (or elements) together is careless and random sounding. But waiting too long to hit the next thing makes the momentum stall out. The right timing is somewhere in between. The right place to hit the next element in a sweep isn’t “at the last place” in the song you’re playing. It’s “at the last LOGICAL place.” Let that little artistic touch into your brain, and you’ll sound alert and in control—and like you’re actually listening to the music with me.

Then, when you open the mike to say something, maybe I’ll pay more attention to it, because something as simple as your board work drew me in a little closer to you.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.