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 #138 – John Cleese on Editing

Obviously, being able to edit yourself is a crucial ingredient in whether or not anyone wants to listen to you.

Rather than give you the standard radio clichés, or quoting statistics from some study, let’s go to an outside source, John Cleese, former Monty Python member and the writer of “A Fish Called Wanda”. (He also wrote and starred in maybe the best sitcom of all time, Fawlty Towers.)

In his book “So, Anyway…” Cleese is talking about a show he had co-written in college that he later took to Australia, New Zealand, and eventually, New York. As you can see, he’s very modest about it, but what he learned FROM it is important:

“Our show had definitely gotten better since its Cambridge incarnation. It was now only sixty minutes long (down from two hours), teaching us that if you have an average show, and you can dump half of it, it doesn’t get a bit better – it gets a lot better. In fact, there seems to be a basic, rather brutal rule of comedy: ‘The shorter, the funnier.’ I began to discover that whenever you could cut a speech, a sentence, a phrase, or even a couple of words, it makes a greater difference than you would ever expect.”

Every word counts. Most disc jockeys spend them like pennies. (And Talk show hosts seem to think that the more words you throw at something, the more effective it is. They’re wrong, of course.)
Spend words like twenty-dollar bills instead. The fewer words you can use to tell a story, explain something, or make a point, the better…and the bigger the impact.

NEVER WASTE THE LISTENER’S TIME.

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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 #136 – The Door is Open

A concept that gets bandied about a lot these days is being “transparent” on the air. I understand what that’s intended to mean, but “transparent” is not a term I use.

Rather than telling air talent to be “transparent”, I tell them to simply be Open and Revealing. Being TOTALLY transparent is not always a good idea, actually. Some things shouldn’t be shown. Some things about you might be too revealing. Some might be negatives. Some might be boring.

Even the so-called “reality” shows on TV are highly edited. (Indeed, to me, “Survivor” is the best-edited show in television history. An editor’s clinic, really. Think about it: they shoot 24/7 to get one hour—and that’s with commercials.)

I’d sum it up this way: Anytime you’re on the air, the door is open, but remember, it’s a door to an entertainer’s life; not a door to an accountant’s life. I’ll bet nobody’s ever asked to come over to your house and watch you fill out your tax returns.

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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 #127 – I was gonna say…

Bet you’ve heard this a hundred times…one person says something, then the other person says “I was gonna say…” and tacks on another thought. If you’re that second person, this may seem innocuous to you, but it carries several liabilities:

First, it’s not in the “now”, so, of course, it stops the momentum. (Or even makes it go backward.)

Second, what “I was gonna say…” REALLY says is “I’m determined to get this thought in, even though the moment has passed, come hell or high water.”

Third, it gives the impression that you have to get in the last word—or even worse, like you’re trying to “top” the other person’s thought.

So the solution for “I was gonna say” is…don’t say it.
Remember, every single thing said by each person (and that can be a caller or guest) should move the subject FORWARD, like the game “leapfrog” that we played as kids.

When you stop wasting words and embrace the discipline of just letting it go instead of forcing a thought in, you’ll have taken a step forward in being perceived as not wasting the listener’s time. With all the ‘buzz’ about PPM indicating that breaks should be short, it’s important to realize that it’s not really always about length as measured by a stopwatch; it’s also about how long it FEELS.

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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 #71 – Radio Tourette Syndrome

Thoroughness—a valuable quality in almost every job—is actually not the best thing for radio. Trying to do every thing every time is almost a disease. Let’s call it radio Tourette Syndrome.

For example, the giving of three surrounding cities’ temperatures, then “and in downtown Candyland, it’s 82” to close the weather forecast. As a listener, I only care about MY area. You’d be better off with one satellite city mention, then the main one. Rotate the surrounding cities one at a time, and you get rid of the “laundry list” thing that other stations do. It doesn’t take long for the listener to at least subconsciously notice that you’re not still rattling out more numbers.
It’s the same with everything, really…
Giving the Artist and Title every time gets old. We’re friends and entertainers, not musicologists.
Giving every possible facet of a contest every time you talk about it just makes you sound like either (1) you can’t shut up, or (2) someone is holding a gun to your head making you do it.
Oh, and that ‘deejay thing’ of purposely “hitting the post” (talking right up to the start of the vocal) every time just makes people want to duct tape your mouth shut after a while. (And it makes Pandora look really good.)

The real point is that trying to be too “thorough” is the enemy of editing. What you gain in Information you lose in Momentum. Take that thought and run with it in every phase of your station possible.

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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 #60 – Know when to stop (Version 2)

After you’ve become a successful talent, one of the most significant challenges with your show’s Content is knowing when to stop doing something.

People listen for 10 minutes—20 if you’re lucky. Huge fans of the show will listen longer, unless they feel that it’s just rehash. Then, even they will go find something else.

So try this on for size:
[A] Whatever you do, treat it as a “one-off” break, meaning that it could stand alone. Plan to move on to something else the next break.

[B] But IF you get a decent reaction—a phone caller, for instance, or if you have a teammate on the show that might have a different “take” on it, okay, air that.

[C] Everything else on that subject now has to EARN being on. This means it has to cover NEW ground, not just repeat a point that’s already been made or give a second example of something we already heard.

Think of it like movies with sequels. Almost every time, the sequels get worse. The 4th Indiana Jones movie, the 4th Lethal Weapon movie, the additional 3 Star Wars movies, or any Jennifer Aniston movie.

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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 #51 – You ARE Twitter

Dear friend and fellow Texas Radio Hall of Famer Randy Brown said something to me the other day that really struck home: In the early 70’s when our little rebel alliance was ushering in FM becoming dominant at Gordon McLendon’s KNUS in Dallas, we WERE Twitter. We were tightly edited, concise with our wording, and only made one point per break.

If you want to look at radio back then as social media today, AM Top 40 was Facebook. They had a huge following, with millions of listeners, and were the 800-pound gorilla—until we made those pukey, rambling deejays sound like they just couldn’t shut up.

Over and over, in market after market, PPM verifies what we knew then. If you’ll be concise (so you don’t waste people’s time) and offer something of real value to the listener every time you open the mic, you’ll be wildly successful.

And remember this: Just like Twitter is limited to 140 characters, the listener is sitting there, listening to you, with his foot tapping anxiously, waiting for you to get to the point. 140 really fast foot taps, then YOU’RE DONE—whether you’ve actually finished or not. The LISTENER decides.

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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 #49 – Resets: The One-Sentence Rule

Okay, you’ve done something that got some phone reaction, and there’s a good call you want to play.

We’ve all heard a Talent circle around the block endlessly, eventually gurgling and drowning as he tries to re-introduce the Subject. Sometimes we hear innocuous details that take us nowhere. I’ve even heard people tell the whole story again! As a RESET!!! (This, of course, is Death.)

If it takes more than one sentence to “reset the stage” of what you’re talking about, you need to work on this. “Redundant” is not the vibe you want to give off.

So think of it like a newspaper article. You want to start with a headline, not with a paragraph. ONE line, then BANG!…go right into the “meat” of the call.

The same rule applies when you’re not going into a call; you’re simply resetting a Subject in order to add another point about it. Don’t waste the listener’s time. Editing is the name of the game. Editing yourself is a GREAT quality.

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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 Coaching Tip #34 – Know when to Stop

Whenever a talent tells me that something “lit up the phone lines for two hours,” my response is always, “Well, I hope you didn’t run calls for that long.”

A lot of Air Talents won’t stop. For them, phone calls are like heroin. They’ll continue to take—and air—them as long as they keep coming in. This is almost always a mistake.

As you plan your show, think “two breaks”—one to set a subject up and one for a phone call response. Every call past that point has to EARN its way onto the air by contributing something new to the discussion.
Talk radio should streamline, too. By the time you do a good job of putting a topic on the table, you might take one “yes” call and one “no” call, but then you’re probably done.
And even the hottest topic should never go longer than an hour on the air, and never cross the top of the hour. Beating a subject to death isn’t the way to have Momentum.

Yes, there are exceptions…disasters. 9/11, Columbine, a flood or tornado in your area. But that’s about all I can think of. Your “weird food combinations” bit isn’t one.

Better to leave the listener wanting MORE than to be like a ham actor that keeps taking bows to diminishing applause.

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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.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #33 – Use short sentences

Using too many words will poison a break. People are busy. They have lives. So don’t ramble and waste their time. Being concise is a challenge for most jocks. Talk show hosts in particular get really longwinded. We all know that person who uses 200 words when 40 would do. That’s not the guy we want to have a conversation with.

Use short sentences. FEWER words make it clear, not more words.

Here’s an example:
“Some people taking Viagra will experience side effects, some of which can be severe. Consult your doctor or qualified health professional before taking Viagra, and make sure that you’re healthy enough for sexual activity. If you experience an erection lasting for more than four hours, call a doctor.”

Blah, blah, blah. All they needed was “Ask your doctor before you take Viagra. There could be dangerous side effects.”

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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.