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 #206 – A Sure Sign That You’re Doing It Right

There’s this dual process that goes on in every great talent’s head…

Part 1 is being right here, right in THIS MOMENT, as it pertains to Performing.

Part 2 is being right here, right in this moment, as it pertains to EDITING – “How would I edit this? Is this the right place to get out?”

That part – the part of you that, even as you’re doing the break, is weighing and measuring “how much is too much?” – is the sense you want to develop.

You can always tell when something really worked on the air: it doesn’t need any editing to make a promo out of it.

THAT’S when you know you’ve struck gold.

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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 #198 – What Team Shows can Learn from Curb Your Enthusiasm

This tip is team show-centric, but it actually applies to everyone on the air.

What Team Shows can Learn from Curb Your Enthusiasm:

In every great show, there’s a thin wire to walk between being spontaneous, but still being aware of how it “plays” to the ear. Larry David’s HBO comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is a great example of how ensemble shows should work.

Everyone in that cast knows what the circumstance (the scene) is, but it’s not scripted. They may not even have a concrete idea of exactly how the scene will end, but what made that show so successful, to me, is that they’re sensitive to those “don’t try to do more” moments. That’s how you get that perfect form of being Consistent, but NOT being Predictable.

“Curb” is something every team show could study, learn from, and get better as a result. You might want to re-watch a few episodes.

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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 #190 – Tying a Neat Bow around it

There’s this virus floating around – you get to the end of a break, and instead of just getting out, you try to “tie a neat bow around it” at the end.

Don’t, please. These “summations” sort of treat the listener like he or she is an idiot. Always assume that the Listener is AT LEAST as smart as we are.

We’re not doing Aesop’s Fables here. When you resort to “The moral of the story is…” that just sounds preachy; even smug. While “Preachy & Smug” might be a great name for a morning team on a Sports station, it’s certainly NOT how a station in any other format should want to be perceived. : -)

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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 #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 #162 – The Two Rules about ONE

In the last tip, I talked about Repetition and Redundancy, two things that can wreck a show.
(It also hurts Imaging and commercials, by the way. Imaging doesn’t need to say “Magic 102.9/102.9” with that second time repeated or slightly overlapped. Ugh. And I’m sure we’ve all wanted to unload a double-barreled shotgun at the TV when we heard a phone number given for the thirteenth time in one of those “Call right now!” spots.)

Anyway, the last tip ended with this:

Repetition HURTS breaks. Redundancy KILLS them.
Radio — at least GREAT radio — is always about how concisely you can get things said. A good rule of thumb is “say things ONCE.” What you leave UNSAID is just as important as what you say.

Now let’s add two more rules to that:

1. Make ONE point.
2. Give ONE example.
When you do more, it’s tedious, and makes breaks SOUND longer than they actually are. And remember, trying to be thorough is the enemy of editing.

There’s a LOT more to this…but as John Lennon said when a reporter shouted out “Sing something for us!” during the Beatles’ first U. S. press conference, “We have to have money first.”

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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 #161 – The Difference between Repetition and Redundancy

Repetition is defined as “the act of doing or saying something again.” Flip on the radio and you’ll hear this constantly; this almost compulsive-sounding need to say something, then repeat it, like the listener is an idiot. (For a while, people were being COACHED to do this. Remember those double time checks? “Seven-fifteen, fifteen minutes after seven o’clock.” Ugh.)

Redundancy is defined, for our purposes, as “the inclusion of more information than is necessary for communication.”

An example of this is “82 degrees and raining outside.”
“Outside?” Well thank goodness. If it were raining INSIDE, that could lead to some pretty expensive roof work.

Recently, I heard a talent start a break with, “This is maybe the best example of ‘for better or worse’ that I’ve ever seen…” and then tell about a man who had been the President of a university in South Carolina, and how his wife of more than forty years, a woman named Muriel, had contracted Alzheimer’s.

Then, instead of going directly to the audio clip of the man making his announcement, he added, “This is his announcement to the university that he was resigning so that he could take care of Muriel…”

Then he played the audio clip of the announcement, which basically was just the man repeating everything the host had already said!

This break should have come with a “spoiler alert”. In the mind of the listener, it’s “been there; heard that.”

Here’s the lesson:
Repetition HURTS breaks. Redundancy KILLS them.

Radio — at least GREAT radio — is always about how concisely you can get things said. A good rule of thumb is “say things ONCE.” What you leave UNSAID is just as important as what you say.

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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 #157 — An Additional Liability of Constantly Teasing

In the last tip, I dealt with the latest radio “incomplete thought” – constantly teasing something at the end of each break.

If you go back and read my tip on “The First Exit” (it’s #3 on my website), you’ll see that the most effective momentum device EVER is to get out at the first place a break “resolves”. You always leave ‘em wanting more, and you have great – and unpredictable – forward momentum.

Over the years (and I first wrote about this over 20 years ago), I’ve heard this misinterpreted in a lot of different ways, like…

“Get out at the first punch line.” (Not everything is funny. Sometimes there ISN”T a punch line.)

“Get out at the First Exit—but then say our names, or the name of the station, into the break.” (Really? You WANT your name or the station’s name right next to commercials? What do you think the listener associates you with then? The “First In, Last Out’ thing never worked, and it doesn’t work now, either.)

And then there’s our newest incarnation: “Take the First ‘out’, but then do a tease of what’s coming up.”
NO! This completely DESTROYS the First Exit. Taylor Swift doesn’t end a song by playing a few notes of the next song she’s going to do.

A show without SURPRISES is a show that’s not worth listening to. I don’t WANT to know everything you’re going to do ahead of time. In the last tip, I listed the four or five categories of things that are worth “promoting ahead” (not “teasing”—I can’t stand that word. When someone calls you a “tease”, that’s NOT a compliment).

I have to go away now. The large vein in my neck is really starting to throb.

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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.