Tommy Kramer Tip #229 — Read a Little, Say a Lot

A morning show host I work with recently found cause to read a poem on the air. While he meant well, it really stalled out the momentum of the show, and basically just sounded less personal. Here’s the right technique to use:

Paraphrase it, using your own words to frame the subject, then only directly quote a very SHORT quote or passage from whatever it is you’re bringing to the table – whether it’s a poem, like in this case, or an article about something.

My longstanding rule is “Only people with cataracts want to be read to,” but it’s more than just that. Anybody can read something; it’s the easiest and safest thing to do from a talent standpoint, because you can hide behind someone else’s words, not have to work very hard to fill the time, and dodge accountability for whatever the Content is.

But that’s not what we’re here for.

When you just read something verbatim in its entirety, the listener doesn’t learn anything about you, except for what your inflection might reveal. However, even that is limited, because if you do take a different tone from how it’s written, you can seem at cross purposes with the subject matter – in effect, impeaching your own source of information.

You’re FORCED to humanize it more when you read less of it. And that helps the listener bond with you. I often tell talent to “crack your chest open and show us what’s in there,” because in the long run, that’s what becoming a star is all about.

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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 #219: The Listener is NOT Stupid

It’s my mission to make you the most interesting and entertaining person your listener ever hears. I want you to have a job you love to go into each day, for you to have a successful career, and for you to have a happy life as a result.

But once in a while, as part of the process, I have to deal with things that may not be all rainbows and pixie dust, in an effort to get you to be the best version of yourself on the air. Here’s one of the potholes…

A lot of radio people apparently think the Listener is stupid. Some examples:

“Remember, that’s Saturday, August 19th” – after you JUST SAID THAT a few seconds ago. Beating it into the listener’s head with a mallet isn’t really a good plan.

“Get a bumper sticker for your car.” (As opposed to what? A bumper sticker for my microwave?)

“7:12, twelve minutes after seven.” (GAD. I thought we’d put this chestnut to rest a LONG time ago. But…apparently not.)

“It’s Wednesday…” (Thanks. I’ve been in a coma, and was hoping someone would tell me what day it is.) “Happy Tuesday” (something I heard on the air just yesterday) is the same kind of thing – ridiculous, because no one ever says that in real life.

I spend countless hours coaching people in how to avoid being redundant and repetitive on the air – because as long as we treat listeners like they’re stupid, we make OURSELVES sound stupid.

In actual, everyday conversations, telling a person something more than once or saying the obvious is just boring. (Or even worse, it can sound like nagging.)

When you say words that don’t matter, YOU don’t matter. So it’s important to train yourself to say something once – really well – then move on.
About the only exception I can think of would be giving the phone number a couple of times for a contest or soliciting calls about a subject, because people may not get it the first time.

But here’s one thing you should definitely remember: EVERY listener is smart enough to push a button and find something else to listen to.

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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 #217 — More Words, Less Impact

We all now that one windbag who’s always at the party, telling stories that never seem to end.

And we all avoid getting sucked into a conversation with that person.

The reason is simple, but more important today than ever in the Twitter, L8R for “later”, emoji world.

Time is a person’s most precious commodity. We’re all too busy; we have things to do, and anything that impedes that is resented. The more words you use, the less effective the message is.

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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 #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 #97 – Trying too hard

There’s a fine line between giving your best effort and trying too hard.

Oddly enough, I find that many Talents have a lot of trouble talking about things on the air that they feel strongly about. Often it seems like the more they care about something, the longer it takes to say. Now I’m certainly not against putting your heart on the air; we want that. But Emotion has to be channeled, or it just becomes “blah, blah, blah” to the Listener. Think of how many Pledge Drives you’ve watched on PBS or heard on Listener-supported radio where it sounds like they just CAN’T shut up.

So here are three guidelines to get you into the groove:
(1) Start with a “headline,” a ONE-line setup to get into the subject.
(2) Make ONE point.
(3) Wrap it up and move on.

Brevity is the most welcome thing about greatness. Look at the TV shows “Modern Family” or “The Big Bang Theory” as great examples of how humorous or even heartfelt perspectives are delivered in short, tightly-worded dialogue. Every line, right to the heart of the bulls-eye. That’s how you have a long run in prime time.

When you try too hard, the results are worse.

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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 #73 – The Quest

This is the real quest, the Holy Grail of how to stand out in the sea of noise across the radio dial:

Find the simplest way to say something so it can’t be misunderstood.
I guarantee that if you do that the best, people will listen to you.

By and large, the person who really nails it—meaning that he or she says the one thought about something that other people pick up on—is the person who stands out. The more wordy it gets, the less effective it is.
Some of this is about understanding the concept of using different “camera angles” from which to talk about things. Some of it is simply the art – and I do mean art – of being concise. And some of it is having a really rich vocabulary—finding the perfect words to hammer home a point.
After all, English is a strange language. We have so many words that mean roughly the same thing, that conversation is largely a matter of circling the subject with words until we all agree on what’s inside the circle.

Here’s the totally self-serving part: I can help you with this. Your PD may not know how, or may understand it, but can’t teach it. Your consultant may know how, but how often do you get to see him (or her)? Regular coaching sessions with someone who isn’t your boss can steer you away from just doing what you think is expected of you, and turn you into someone whose thoughts are actually valued by the Listener. As a matter of fact, your thought might be the one the Listener uses as his own opinion that day. When you make someone else look good, magical things happen.

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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 #19 – Great in 9 seconds (or less)

Let me tell you about my friend Howard Clark. Imagine hearing this nice, big, round voice – not announcerish or pukey, just God-given great “pipes” – saying these things over song intros:

[into ‘Mrs. Robinson’] “The amazing Funkel Brothers, Simon…and Gar”

[into ‘I Remember You’] “Here’s a song about a man and his sheep…” (think about it)

…and especially when he would foul something up: “Every move…carefully planned”

Howard Clark could be great in 9 seconds. Or less. Because he always came across as (1) actually listening to the music, (2) clever, and (3) totally here to have fun.

You had to listen carefully to Howard, or you might miss something that would make you giggle, or make you think. It’s not always about being funny. It’s about being a “must” listen—the person I want with me in the car when I’m driving, or by my desk when I’m working.

If you can’t be great in 9 seconds, if you don’t sound like you’re listening to the songs, and/or if it only seems like you’re just talking about things because you feel like it—regardless of whether or not it means something to me—you may be good, but you’re not great.

But I can show you how. And I think you’ll be amazed at how easy it is. It doesn’t take more work; it just takes knowing exactly what to work on.

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Tommy Kramer
Radio Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2013 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.