Tommy Kramer Tip #189 – Short, Longer, Longest

You should be able to do three versions of anything you need to promote: Short, longer, and longest.

Examples:

[5 seconds]
“KBUT 94.9 window stickers are free at any Tom Thumb grocery store…”

[10 seconds]
“KBUT 94.9 stickers on your window or bumper look great, tell people what kind of music you like, and can win you cash! Pick yours up today FREE at any Tom Thumb store.”

[20 seconds]
“KBUT 94.9 bumper stickers look great and they’re free—and just like duct tape, if you put enough of them on your car, you can actually cover up a broken window or a big dent. And the number on each one is what we use to give out cash and prizes—like maybe even a NEW car! So get your sticker today at any Tom Thumb grocery store, then listen for your number to be called out on the air.”

Now you probably already know that the shortest version is the hardest one to do. But at any length, CLARITY is the key. You can always add more word pictures, if more length will work. But if you can’t do the super-short versions, you’re not great yet.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #188 – No “Hallmark Card” Content, please

Even very bright talents will slip up once in a while and do “pap for the masses”, thinking that it works.

This is what I heard one jock say recently:
“I love this…‘good moms let their kids lick the beaters; great moms remember to turn off the mixer first.’ Yeah, I’ve been there.”

Really? This sounds like a Hallmark Card for Mother’s Day, or something Ann Landers or Erma Bombeck might have written—in 1981. And no, you haven’t “been there,” or we’d have noticed the Child Protective Services van outside that house. (Because, apparently at some point, that mixer was left ON.)

Let’s be clear: I’m certainly not against doing things that are heartwarming or encouraging. That’s fine, but NOT if it sounds insipid or obsequious.

If you don’t know what those words mean, just ask Siri. Because, contrary to what that air talent thought, it’s not 1981 anymore.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer #187 – A Lesson from Bill Walsh

Great stations, like great football teams, have this buzz about them – a vibe that everyone is pumped about working there. Not-so-great stations feel like a widget factory, populated by people waiting for their shifts to end so they can go home.

NFL wizard Bill Walsh, who coached the San Francisco 49’ers to multiple championships in the eighties, said “If you can get everyone to laugh together, you can get everyone to get serious together.”

I do think that’s true, and years ago, we used to do a lot of things as a unit, whether it was going to a concert, or just hanging out together.

That’s not always possible in the 21st century, but I believe you can turn Walsh’s lesson around, too: If you can get everyone to be serious together, then you can get everyone to laugh together.

No matter how bad the day has been – say there’s no coffee in the coffee maker, the computers are glitchy, or the candy machine ate your dollar bill and spat out a Zagnut with an expiration date of November 3rd, 1998 – take a moment to relax. Gather your thoughts, clear your mind, and get ready for your show. By being serious about your job, you play your part in being a team leader. And if enough people do this, something magical happens. The mood lightens when everyone is purposeful.

I know this sounds simplistic, but frankly, that’s what losing stations always think – and then pay the price for thinking that way. Do your part to make your station the one where everyone wants to work. You’ll find that there’s a lot of laughter that grows out of being really good together.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #186 – How long should an Interview last?

If you wonder about how long interviews should last, the quick answer is “It should end before I want to kill the guest.”

Seriously, in practical terms, plan on ONE segment. Anything past that should earn its way onto the air by adding something new and compelling to the interview.

Remember, an interview’s purpose isn’t to drum up business for the guest. It’s to make the guest come across as interesting enough or entertaining enough for me (as a listener) to even CARE about what they’re pushing, whether it’s a new album, concert, movie, charity, etc.

And I’d recommend never having a guest on for more than an hour, no matter who it is.

No doubt you’ve heard “leave the listener wanting more,” but not all air talents have the discipline to really do it. The minute you find yourself checking the clock to see how soon this segment will be over, you should have already ended it.

– – – – – – –
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 #185 – Intimacy, and how to get it (a Team Show tip)

Intimacy is the most unique ingredient in a team show, because often what works against it is that a team’s individual roles get “assigned” – or at least defined – by the PD or Consultant. Sometimes, in trying to stick to those definitions, intimacy just drops off the radar screen.

In reality, the roles don’t matter when it comes to this particular quality.

Every great show has Intimacy – and the more THAT element stands out, the stronger the team will be as a whole.

Here’s the tricky part: The Strategy is to reveal. But the Tactic is to not compete with or impede that happening. If you don’t know how to prep, but still be largely spontaneous, you might want to get some help with that. As Pierce Brosnan said in ‘Mama Mia’, “It’s only the rest of your life.”

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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 #184 – No Excuses

It seems like one of the main themes of life in the 21st century is dodging accountability. I see this all the time, where a talent needs to hear something in order to improve, but if it’s not sugar-coated or paired with pleasant compliments first, they reject it simply because it wasn’t delivered gift-wrapped like they wanted.

So rather than working on getting better, they pout, and think that complaining about it or giving off a wounded vibe will buy them some time. Yeah, right. Time to stand still.

If you’re the talent, you should never settle for this. If you’re not learning more, you’re going backwards.

As a programmer, never let a talent point the finger at the boss or the coach. Give them a homework assignment instead, like listening to a station or specific air talent they can learn from. Don’t ever mollycoddle the notion of not trying to get better EVERY DAY.

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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 #183 – Recycling Material

I get asked a lot about whether or not to recycle something within a show. Almost everybody seems to think it’s okay, but it’s really not. Here’s why:

Because you’ll never do something as well a second time. Or you’ll do it well the second time after having done it poorly the first time. Unless you’re one of the greatest voice actors in the world, you’ve only got one really good performance in you. Live with it. You may not want to hear this, but artistically, you want to burn material like jet fuel, and keep coming up with more things to do – every show. Recycling the same bit a couple of hours later actually clogs up the creative process.

Note: You CAN recycle a Subject. But come up with a new “camera angle” the second time, so it’s not just you on autopilot.

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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 #182 – When Repetition becomes Irritation

The whole concept of “reach and frequency” is one of the benchmarks of all advertising, not just radio. But since we don’t have artwork or a camera to tell part of the story, we have to be mindful of what our words are actually saying.

Yes, the listener needs to hear something a few times for it to penetrate the world he/she lives in, like a contest, a promotion, or a feature you run.

But when it comes to “regular” Content and your vocabulary, you really don’t want to sound repetitive at all. In real life conversations, using the same words, expressions, or “camera angles” over and over again is an indicator of laziness, lack of imagination, and lack of respect for the person you’re talking to.

Those things you “always say” are the ENEMY of communication.

I used to coach a morning show in Dallas with a host who made a little whistling noise every time he played “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band. (You know, that place at the end where there’s a little “slide” guitar thing that sounds like a whistle.) Whenever that song came up, I really hoped that he WOULDN’T do the whistle – but he always did. Aaarrrggh.

So, if the question is “when does something become stale?” then the answer may as short as “the second time I hear it.” This is NOT something you should ever want the listener to think about.

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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 #181 – Catch and Release

The whole concept of subtlety seems to have died out in the back yard, because no one heard it scratching against the door.

Go to “Catch and Release”, like in fishing. You catch a Moment, then you let it go. Trying to reach a second Moment is too far a “reach” for most air talents. We’re not standup comedians, who work tirelessly on “constructs” where each step leads to another one. Louis C. K. talks often about George Carlin’s process of writing for a special, then tossing that material out, which shocked Louis. He felt like “I’ve worked for 14 years to get this one hour of good stuff. How do you just throw that away?!”

Over time (and mustering up all his courage), he learned that you have to clear the slate to open up the mental space to create more.

Radio’s not really the medium for that “Construct” formula anyway. Quick hits, then movement, define great radio.

I hear so many shows that sound like the people in the studio are having a good time, but like kids at recess, they don’t want to come back into the classroom and settle down.

Catch, then Release. Stop hanging onto a falling satellite. Your listeners will really appreciate it.

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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 #180 – Technique versus Style

In coaching, the typical fear is always that you, as a talent, might actually have to change some things in order to become more fully fleshed out. Technique is a part of it, and there are many Program Directors who are very good at teaching the various techniques that work best in any given format. I’ve got my own set (what a lot of people have called “The Kramer Rules”) that form that firmament, the solid rock foundation a talent builds on.

Caution: Techniques that don’t grow out of a specific Strategy are just flotsam floating by. Strategy dictates Techniques, not the other way around.

And then you have Style, which is what we work on the most. Many air talents think they already have a certain style, but it’s really just a mish-mash of techniques wrapped around an Attitude.

So I believe the way to look at it is yes, you want to learn the right techniques – and which ones are outdated, or just wrong from the word “go”. But how you DO those techniques are where your true Style comes from.

Example: The brilliant Mike Fisher, a truly great writer and fine air talent, was part of the staff at my last PD gig, a Talk station in Dallas. Early on, we went over certain techniques to handle callers – no “hi, how ya doin’ today?” stuff (no one cares), ONE point from each caller, no phony “and Jess has something to say…” antiquated “entry lines” into a call, etc.

And Mike did well, but he put his own twist on it with this phone call solicitation: “Get in, get on, and be good,” followed by giving the phone number.

That statement, that “set of rules” for his callers to follow, defined his Style. No b. s. was going to be tolerated, no filibusters, no boring analysis. Get in, get on, and be good. The pressure was on the CALLER, not Mike.

Brilliant.

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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.