Tommy Kramer Tip #225 – How to Zoom in on the Difference between Openness and Transparency

We hear a lot these days about being “transparent” on the air, and I get what the spirit of that is. But being totally transparent can be too close to the bone.

I always use the term “being open.”

Being open is different, and better. If you’re unsure where the line is between openness and transparency, just remember this: Nobody goes to a party to watch a guy fight with his wife. You’re in the Entertainment business. Some things SHOULDN’T be revealed.

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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 #223 – Varying your Resets

The other day, for about the gazillionth time, I heard a jock who had a phone call thing going use the exact same story he had told to start the whole thing off as he went into a call.

In our session the next day, I told him, “I don’t get why you’d do this. We just heard that story a few minutes ago.”

His thinking was that if someone just tuned in, they needed a reset to understand the call about it.

I agree – but you should use a DIFFERENT “entry” every time you revisit a subject or play a phone call in response to it.

This is why I preach “camera angles” to everyone I coach. You have to be able to see things from different perspectives to keep a subject fresh.
Otherwise, it’s just “That again?” Click.

The secret to Time Spent Listening isn’t some left-brain “clock” exercise, and it’s certainly not in constantly teasing every single thing you’re going to do. It’s about being WORTH THE LISTENER’S TIME whenever you open the mic. Not being redundant is a good first step. 😄

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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 #221 – Another Seinfeld Content Tip

Cruising around You Tube yesterday, I saw an interview with Jerry Seinfeld by Norm MacDonald.

Norm brought up a hypothetical scene: Two people go to a bowling alley and….what happens next?

If you’ve seen Seinfeld much at all, you know about his ‘internal radar’ as to what makes something funny – or not. So he interrupted MacDonald at that point and said “Why are they in the bowling alley?”
He went on to dismiss the “future plot development” idea that (and I’m paraphrasing here) “if you’re doing the scene because that’s where he meets this person who becomes a significant figure in his life, that’s not gonna work.” The answer to ‘why are they there?’ has to be funny IN ITSELF, not just as a tool for some future plot development.

This is a really important thing that goes directly to Purpose, and not just leading the listener down some garden path.

Coincidentally, I had a session yesterday with a female talent who brought up the factoid that “we all spend ten minutes a day looking for stuff that we’ve misplaced,” and then went on to tell a story about her husband being so used to her losing her phone that he instantly replied “Babe, it’s right here” when she mentioned that she didn’t know where she had left it.

But see, that doesn’t answer the fundamental question that Seinfeld alludes to – why are we there, in that scenario? WHY are you talking about it?
For radio purposes, something has to be entertaining in itself, right off the bat, in order to further the show in a non-random way and to make your Content relevant.

This is why just launching into a story about yourself isn’t necessarily a slam-dunk when it comes to scoring score points with the listener. If you’re working hard at trying to be “transparent” and to “tell stories” (things we hear all the time, but usually get no instructions as to exactly HOW to do that), remember that if the only reason you bring something up is to “fill the page” with something, or to talk about yourself, that’s not enough. Dig deeper. There’s another FOUNDATIONAL level – the one that guided Seinfeld’s career – that needs to be considered.

If this seems too nebulous, too obvious, or too introspective…well, sorry. But radio is in a dangerous place right now where “items” and “stories” that don’t resonate with the listener have replaced actual sharing and bonding. You can’t just do “bits”. I can get those off You Tube.

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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 #173 – Happy Generic Fluff

It’s so different on the other end of the radio.

Recently, a morning show I just starting working with did a break on “Words to not use with kids.” Obviously, it was some article they plucked off the internet, and it sounded like it. They thought it was “interesting”, but to me it was just the easiest road to take, pumping something into the show that was actually just “filler” stuff to take up space between the banner ads on some website.

What I told them:
This isn’t a break that we “make better”. It’s a break that we don’t do.

“Happy generic fluff” is NOT meaningful Content, especially when it just sounds like a self-help or “motivational” book. Be better than that. You’re here to share your thoughts and feelings on things that matter most to the listener TODAY. Not “The 16 Most Important Foods to Avoid” which is usually subtitled something like “Number 9 will amaze you!” (It never does. And I’m going to keep eating hot sauce until it flows out of my ears, no matter what it does to my stomach lining.)

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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 #163 – Fun Grows out of Relevance

The future of radio – no matter how it’s delivered – is going to be about Personalities. Air Talent that seems like your best, most entertaining friend; that person that always finds just the right word to describe something that we’re both going through or thinking about.

But radio isn’t the Chuckle Shack. We’re not standup comedians, and shouldn’t really want to seem like that, anyway. You just want to be that one person that always gets invited to the party because you’ll be interesting and amusing, and make the person who’s hosting the party look good for inviting you.

Here’s the way it works:

Job One is to only talk about things that are relevant and top-of-mind to the listener. Once you’re zeroed in on “narrow focusing” your Content to that degree, Fun grows out of that.

But there’s a difference between being perceived as fun versus seeming like someone “trying to be funny”.
I think that the very core of “trying to be funny” is when you take something that ISN’T relevant and attempt to make it entertaining.

You have to CHOOSE. One way leads to tremendous, never-ending growth. The other leads to actually having to WORK for a living. Ewww.

Work joyfully on getting better. If you hit a wall, get a coach.

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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 #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.

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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 #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.

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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 Coaching Tip #142 – Social does NOT mean All Access

One of my stations recently decided that since social media is now God, they want the air staff to solicit and answer texts while they’re on the air. Even more than that, they want the jocks to start “conversations” with the texters and ask them questions that lead to answers they can use on the air for so-called Content. (Because we all know that someone reading a text or tweet or Facebook posting is just SO entertaining…like watching toast burn.)

I’m all for social media, but this strikes me as somewhat insane. Here’s why:

1. In the first place, most people listen to the radio when they’re driving. Are you encouraging people to text or tweet while they’re driving? Better call your attorneys, because The Big L (Liability) is waiting for several hundred lawsuits to be filed against you when those drivers have wrecks, and blame them on you. Sound ridiculous? Take a look at how many restaurants were threatened with secondhand smoke lawsuits. That’s why smokers are huddled up like lepers outside the building now, puffing away as people drive by.

2. If you’re saying you want to hear from people who aren’t driving, then you’re automatically playing to the smaller portion of the audience—the people who aren’t doing anything in particular, have time to kill, and think YOUR time belongs to THEM. So let’s follow this line of thinking…if I go to New York and see “Wicked” on Broadway, then I should be able to text Carol Kane during the lulls between her having to say lines, and expect a reply, right? Of course not. That’s ridiculous.

Again, I’m all FOR creative uses of social media, and as anyone I coach knows, we work hard to come up with relevant ways to use Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Vine, texting, even the old-fashioned steam engine of e-mail. But not while the Talent is on the air. The only thing the talent should be doing while he’s on that’s “interactive” is taking phone calls—when time allows.
Otherwise, I want them concentrating on the next break—what “camera angle” they’re going to use, making sure that they’re as concise as possible, delivering an ending to the break that’s not something they started with or said earlier in the break. If I walk into a Control Room and see an air talent texting someone, I take his phone away, so he’ll concentrate on his SHOW. After the jock gets off, he can answer emails, post stuff on Facebook or Instagram, and tweet to his heart’s delight.

Jack Nicholson doesn’t go to the box office and sell tickets. There’s a lot to be said for being visible, but still maintaining a certain air of mystery. You don’t leave your front door open for people to just wander into your house anytime they want to.

We have wonderful ancillary roads these days to reach out to listeners, but never forget that the PRODUCT of a radio station is WHAT COMES OUT OF THE SPEAKERS. Facebook, Twitter, etc. are not rated by Arbitron. Keep your eye on the ball, and don’t add meaningless crap to the artistic process of doing the show—unless, of course, you’re happy with the 0.1 share you’re going to get when the whole staff sounds distracted and unprepared.

I have to stop now. The big vein in my neck is starting to throb really bad. Peace and love.

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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 #123 – Nonverbal Communication is very LOUD

It’s one of the basic tenets of acting: you have to LISTEN well. There are many reasons for it:

No matter how much you’ve rehearsed something, the other person in the scene may forget a line, or feed you a line that was supposed to come later (or earlier). Unless you’re paying attention, there’s this awful, pregnant moment when panic or shock hits you—and believe me, everyone in the audience knows it.

I’ve coached somewhere around 350 team shows and dozens of Talk shows that are caller-driven or guest driven, and it’s amazing how many times I’ve heard a host or partner that’s simply not paying attention. I’ve had to remind people that should know better not to text while they’re on the air, to take their eyes off the computer screen, and instead of only thinking about what your next comment will be, actually listen to what’s being said on the air.

After all, if you’re not paying attention to what your partner, a guest, or a caller is saying, why should the listener? Non-verbal communication is very loud. And people FEEL at least as much as they hear.

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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 #111 – Analytics and You

Professional baseball is heavy into analytics, often referred to as ‘sabermetrics.’ They study every player’s performance in every possible situation, and make decisions accordingly.

As a PD or air talent today, PPM is our new sabermetrics drinking fountain. With all the new analytics—being able to see exactly where people lost interest during a break, the ratio of male artists to female artists, where spotsets should go, etc.—it can seem like data is making all the decisions. (And that’s not even counting the importance of an actual social media strategy.)

I like math. I was the little kid who could rattle off baseball players’ stats. Analytics are fun—and if you need an example of how they can be used, look at that dramatic “three players on the right side of the infield” shift in baseball today that drives most batters crazy. That’s a direct result of analytics making teams better by being smarter. (And “the shift” just looks so cool.)

So dive on in! Use every single tool that can tell us what the audience wants (and what’s ineffective, too). Personally, I’ve made an effort to absorb as much as I can about the workings of PPM from people who are much smarter than me, with the sole goal of keeping on learning, moving forward, all the time.

However, from a coaching perspective, let me add this:
All the analytics in the world won’t help you be different, be original, or make that person in the car or office think of you as a “must” listen. You still have to MATTER to the listener, or you’re just the voice interrupting the playlist. More on that in the next tip.

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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.