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.

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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 #126 – Splitting sentences up

You’ve heard this, and you’ve seen it done on TV commercials, too. One person starts a sentence, but then it’s split up as another person continues it. I saw a TV spot where EVERY sentence was split up among several different people.

And I can’t count how many morning show promos have been done this way.
[1st voice] “Hi, I’m Snarf…”
[2nd voice] “and I’m Garfle…”
[1st voice] “from the Snarf and Garfle show…”
[2nd voice] “All this week, we’re giving away tickets
1st voice] “in the alley next to the Keith Urban concert…”
[2nd voice] “you could be the winner…
[1st voice] “and get mugged by a drug dealer!”

This is just editing gone crazy.
Give yourself permission to sound more plausible. Don’t split sentences up.

In real life, when someone finishes the other person’s sentence, it’s either too “cutesy” or just downright annoying.
Plus, you destroy the rhythm of the copy when you do those half-thoughts. It’s difficult to match the other person’s tempo and emotional vibe, so it ends up sounding choppy.

One person does the greeting. The other does the main message. The first person then tags it. Each completes his or her own sentence. You get the same effect—an energetic read—without having to rush like your pants are on fire. (And it sounds more real.)

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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 #74 – Surf’s up, dude

One of the things about coaching that I love the most is getting to work with young talents. Since there’s virtually no meaningful training anymore, it’s great to have a chance to head them off at the pass before they turn into faceless, shouting, liner-reading robots, and help them find ways to sound truly unique.

To a degree, it’s a “throwback” thing from radio’s past, but that’s like saying that a radio station’s iPhone app is a throwback to the transistor radios that people had 50 years ago. It’s the same, but totally different.

Recently, in a session recap, I wrote this to a promising young talent:

Real people just talk. They get excited, they get intimate, they get loud, they get quiet—but they don’t have that pukey “shouting-at-the-listener” delivery that everyone goes into when you ask them to do an impression of a deejay.

One thing that’ll really help you get your arms around this is to not try and cram too many words into a song intro. MATCH the tempo and the mood of the song. If it’s 100 beats a minute, you should start at that speed. If it’s faster, start faster. If it’s slower, start slower. But don’t go 300 miles an hour over a medium or slow song, because that makes you sound like you aren’t even listening to the song. In effect, it sends the message that the music we play is just a series of music beds for you to talk over—the opposite of seamlessly fitting into and being part OF the song as you talk. You want to “ride” the song like a surfer riding a wave.

Surf’s up, Dudes. Let’s go have some fun!

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Tommy Kramer
Radio Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2014 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #63 – Cattle

The great movie Director Alfred Hitchcock was once asked by a reporter, “Is it true that you said all actors are cattle?”
Hitchcock replied, “No, I did not say that all actors are cattle. I said that all actors should be treated as cattle.”

Whenever you have a guest—or a guest host—keep that in mind.
If the guest or guest host is from TV, chances are that they know NOTHING about radio. They know about hair product and how to read a teleprompter, but if they knew anything about keeping a viewer around, they wouldn’t keep saying things like “after this break” or “when we return.” (I’ll dive further into this in a future tip.) A guest, like someone who’s on “The Biggest Loser” or whatever, knows even less. They’re pretty much like ducklings, just trying to smile and not sound like amateurs.

YOU have to organize things for them.
First rule: Don’t tell the other person something he already knows about himself. That leaves him nothing to say. (“So, you’re on The Biggest Loser tonight…” only leaves him “Yes…” or “That’s right” to say—both boring “null” responses that don’t move the conversation forward.) To use Hitchcock’s example, if you say what THEY should say, they might as well just answer with “Mooooooo.”
Second rule: ONE thought per break, not three “related” thoughts that should be spread out over three separate breaks.
Third rule: Let them know exactly what you’re going to do each break, so their role is clear.

If you need help with this, call me. A couple of coaching sessions, and you’ll be setting people up to sound good instead of giving the listener a really good reason to go somewhere else.

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Tommy Kramer
Radio Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2014 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.