Tommy Kramer Tip #109 – Everything’s the Opposite

This tip is sort of dual-purpose…a guideline for Management and Programming, and how it should affect you as an air talent.

The late, great singer Harry Nilsson used to say “Everything’s the Opposite,” meaning that everything turns out to be the opposite of whatever it claims to be. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but there’s a lot of truth in it. (“Military Intelligence” and “free” offers come to mind.) Radio’s full of examples.
Let’s take a look at a few typical claims, and then the other side of the coin—what the listener thinks:

Your claim: “50-minute music hours.”
Listener’s thought: We can all add and subtract. Eventually you’re going to spew out 10 minutes of commercials.

Your claim: “No-talk triple plays.”
Listener’s thought: So when you open the mike, that’s a bad thing? Surely you didn’t intend to say that. Oh, and those recorded identifiers or Imaging pieces you play between songs? They’re TALK.

Your claim: “No-repeat work days.”
Listener’s thought: Wait a minute. That means that I’ll only hear my favorite song once in eight hours. So if I tuned in and only heard the end of it, I’m pretty much S. O. L. for the rest of the day.

I’ve heard jocks unthinkingly say “Hope you’re having a great day!” when there are snowdrifts eight feet high, and the roads are impassable.

And we’ve all heard stations use some form of “We care about you and your family,” but every contest winner they have is identified first as a number. (“Hi, you’re number nine.”) I don’t know about you, but I don’t assign numbers to my family members. “Have you met my sister, Number 7?” seems rather impersonal.

Why not just give up those empty claims and failed gimmicks? Make your station (and your show, on the air) about Values, and about being of service. People will notice. The only Positioning Statement you really need is the name of the station. Then PROVE what you are.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #108 – Good phone calls don’t just “happen”

This tip is specifically for music radio.

Good phone calls don’t just happen; you have to create an atmosphere that fosters them. When someone opens up his/her heart or fragility to you, that’s not an accident. If they thought you’d be rude or dismissive or not really listen to them, they’d never call you. And it’s not 1995 anymore. Nowadays, the standard throwing out a topic, then saying “What do you think?” just sounds like you want the listener to do the show for you. (I call this “using the listeners as props.”) To get really good phone calls, give me something to REACT to, and you can’t keep me from telling you what I think. You don’t have to ask.

A remedial lesson: How to put a call on the air

When you run the call, just say your thing & then cut to the caller’s comment. You don’t need “Hi, how are you” stuff, and you don’t need to say something like “Darren’s on the line…” (Where else would he be, on the toaster?) or “Jennifer has an idea…” We don’t “narrate” like that in real life, and we don’t “introduce” another person’s comment at the dinner table. And by the way, no one cares about the caller’s name, unless it’s a prize winner. (In Talk Radio, however, the name does serve a couple of purposes—to distinguish one caller from another, and to mention the city or area the call is from.)

The main thing that will set you apart is if you establish a really high standard for phone calls. Just because someone calls doesn’t mean they should get on the air. Like a film editor making cuts in a movie, if it’s not great, leave it out.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #107 – The Adventures of…

John Lennon once described American deejays as “Hi, I’m from nowhere,” meaning that compared to jocks in England, we all sounded alike to him, speaking in our “radio voices”.

If you think of it like an actor (which you should), there has to be some arc to you. Things have to come from something. (Great actors say their characters have to overcome something, and you should be able to sense that.)

I’ve mentioned this before, but to me, especially in the five different morning team shows I was part of, it wasn’t just “Hudson & Harrigan” or “Tommy & the Beamer,” it was “The Adventures of Hudson & Harrigan” or “The Adventures of Tommy & the Beamer”…just like the old TV show wasn’t just “Superman,” it was “The Adventures of Superman.”

Your show should be thought of (but not named) “The Adventures of…you.” Life IS an adventure. Radio should reflect that. If you don’t, you’re just that voice from nowhere.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #106 – Answers = Power

In May of 2015, Google began running an ad that started with “a question is the most powerful force in the world.” But they couldn’t be more wrong. An ANSWER is the most powerful force in the world.

I’ve talked before about avoiding the Question form, and making Statements instead. Thinking that questions are “a powerful force” is fool’s gold. No one wants to ask a question, only to get another question in reply.
Example:
“How much are these beets?”
“How much do you think they should cost?” is not a helpful response. Great marketers know that asking the public what they want doesn’t really work, because people can only describe what they think they want in terms of what they’ve already seen. Apple didn’t ask people if they wanted an iPad. They just made them, and let the world come—rapidly—to the conclusion that this new product would make their lives easier. (And that’s why Google isn’t Apple. And by the way, what MADE Google was that you ask, and they provide the answer.)

In your Imaging, in your commercials and promos, and in your air work, give your listener an answer.

Warning: Everyone thinks he can do this, but then, at first, tends to fail miserably when he tries. Let me help you with the techniques, and we can weed this out in a hurry. I promise you that you’ll see the power of it in no time.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #105 – One Thing Per SHOW

In coaching Talent to become more than just deejays, I draw on why legendary personalities become legends. In the past, it was Robert W. Morgan in L. A. or Fred Winston in Chicago. In Dallas, where I lived most of my adult life, it was Ron Chapman, Terry Dorsey, Kidd Kraddick, and in the Contemporary Christian arena, Brother Jon Rivers. There are others, too, of course. (Fill in the name of your market’s Legend.) In my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, it’s a guy named Larry Ryan, who’s been in that market for over 40 years. And when I was just a duckling starting out in radio, Larry told me something that I still remember every day, and have developed specific techniques in how to coach.

He said, “If you do just ONE THING each day that people remember, you’ll be a star.”

ONE THING PER SHOW. That’s all you need. Do the math: Say you take two weeks of vacation per year. So if you work five days a week, fifty weeks a year, and do one thing each day that your Listener really connects with, that’s 250 things at the end of a year that your Listener remembers about you that he or she doesn’t remember about your competitor! 250 concrete reasons to keep listening to you, instead of to the other options across the radio landscape or satellite and digital formats.

Now this is not about only doing one thing during your entire show. It’s about doing one thing that’s memorable, one thing that no one else will do, every show. It’s also about never going through a show without that one thing. This is one of the prime areas where “critique” serves no real purpose. It’s all about coaching—brainstorming ideas to cultivate a sense of what will set you apart.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #104 – Hearing/Listening

I‘ve heard jocks complain that they didn’t get any calls or emails or Facebook posts when it was expected. This seems odd to me, like a playwright complaining that the audience in the theater didn’t get a joke.

It’s easy to just say “they heard, but they didn’t listen,” but that’s
the wrong end of the binoculars, because it’s about your agenda. We should be considering the possibility that “they were listening, but they didn’t hear,” because that puts the responsibility where it really belongs—on us. If the message isn’t getting across, then we need to do a better job of getting it across.

Besides the fact that people are busy and have lives, I think there’s always a reason why someone doesn’t really hear something. Assuming out front that what you’re talking about is on target, then you have to consider that (1) maybe it’s just not clear, or (2) that the way you did it just wasn’t as compelling as it could have been.

When you put maximum effort into the precise wording and emotional investment you’ll need to make someone actually pay attention, you’ll be far more likely to get the results you want. (Vocabulary is crucial.)
If you don’t really want to dive into it that deeply, you can still be pretty good—but you can’t be great.

Treat every time you open the mike like your career depends on it, because it actually kinda does.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #103 – Deepak Chopra on Surprises

If you get the Sundance channel, you probably know about the series “Iconoclasts”. I just saw an episode the other day featuring actor/comedian Mike Myers and the controversial Indian-born author and speaker Deepak Chopra. Myers was insightful and funny, but Chopra said something that really rang the bell of what makes great radio:
“If a life can be a series of perpetual surprises, that’s the most joyful experience you can have.”

That’s it. That’s the ‘secret’, if there is one. Most radio today is full of information, gossip, promotional messages, etc.—but lacks surprises. Being surprised by something is like seeing a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis when you’re a kid. Or an ending to a movie that you didn’t see coming. Or unexpectedly being moved by an act of kindness.

Shock is not the same thing as Surprise; it’s just one crayon. There are others. If you’re having trouble seeing them, well, that’s what I’m here for. Coaching isn’t about a set of “do this, don’t do that” rules. It’s about helping you access the things in your noggin that can surprise the listener.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #102 – The Apple Philosophy and how it applies to Radio

If you’re an Apple hater—you don’t like Mac computers, don’t like the iPhone, and would never buy an iPad—try to put that aside for a second. Of course, if you’re using a PC, you’re probably not reading this anyway, because you’re sitting through a Norton Security scan, Windows Updates that’ll take 40 minutes, or the dreaded blue screen of death. Anyway…

Apple has a simple philosophy. Three thoughts:
What would be cool?
What would be fun?
And what would benefit the customer’s life?

If your radio station thinks the same way—what would be cool, what would be fun, and what would benefit the listener’s life—you’ll be successful. But many stations seem to only think “What would be cool—to us? What would be fun—for us? And what would benefit us?”

As an air talent, even if your station doesn’t get it, YOU CAN. Start by being really, really user-friendly, like an iPad. (If I need some sort of prior knowledge to listen to your show, I’m out of here.) And like the guys in the Apple Stores, never talk down to your listener, or make him or her feel dumb for not knowing what you know. Make it FUN to listen. If you’re in a Talk or News format, make it always interesting and unique to hear your Content.

Now take these concepts and DO run with scissors!

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #101 – Articulate the Popular Rage

There’s a great line from the movie “Network” where old-line newsman Howard Beale (Academy Award winner Peter Finch) is told by his new show developer (Faye Dunnaway) to “articulate the popular rage.”

Now this movie, written by Pulitzer-prize winner Paddy Cheyevski—was made in 1977, so “rage” was at its core. You may remember Beale’s famous scene where he urged people to shout out their windows “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!”

The thought of ‘articulating the popular rage’ is still valid—although I would modify it to be “Articulate the Popular Emotion.” Rage is only one emotion, and you don’t want to be a one-trick pony. But the idea is to be the voice of what your listener is thinking. Joy, sadness, grief, silliness, disbelief, patriotism, skepticism, being thankful—all these (and more) make up the palate from which you can verbally “paint” the Content of the show.

Never settle for something that’s not based on an Emotion.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #100 – Perishable food

This tip may seem pretty obvious, and I wish it were. But apparently it’s not, from what I hear flipping around the dial and working with Talents who tell me, “Yeah, I meant to do something on that, but I forgot to.”

Some Content is like perishable food. If you don’t use it quickly, it’ll go bad. If you have something that is time sensitive, find a place for it on the air NOW. Otherwise, it’s like you bought food, put it in the refrigerator, and then just let it sit there and spoil.

Yes, some other stuff is like a can of beans up in the pantry. It can be used anytime.
Here’s what I’d recommend:

1. Use the “perishable food” first.

2. Then throw the other stuff away. We’re not survivalists stocking up for the end of the world.

Seriously, if it’s the day after Memorial Day, for instance, and special ceremonies were held all over your city yesterday, you’d better talk about it today. By tomorrow it’s old news.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.