Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #269 – The Assembly Line Mentality: A Voice-Tracking Tip

No doubt about it, voice-tracking isn’t going away anytime soon. But it sure makes people lazy. However, there’s no reason why a voice-tracked MusicRadio show can’t sound like it’s live.

But what happens often is that a jock sits down and thinks “I’ve got to fill 28 breaks” (or whatever the number is), and plows through them as fast as possible.

So here’s a tried-and-true method for voice-tracking that makes it pretty easy to still do a viable show:

Step one is to lay out what you HAVE to do (promoting things, etc.) and slot those in. Separate them by half an hour or so, to avoid doing two “informational” breaks in a row.
Then, take a look at whatever Content you’ve brought to the table, and slot those breaks in. What you have to do first; what you WANT to do second.

Step two is vital – track ONE hour, then STOP and listen to that hour’s breaks, all in a row. If you spot a mistake that needs correcting, or a break where you weren’t at your best or just sort of “mailed it in”, recut them as needed. ONLY THEN should you move to the next hour of tracking.

This few minutes of Quality Control will perform a dual function. Not only will you make subpar breaks sparkle, and in some cases more concise (and therefore more digestible), but that little “rest stop” gives the right side of the brain a chance to “recharge” itself, so instead of going into the next hour running out of gas, you have a fresh burst of creative energy. It’s a “pit stop” to make you ready to WIN again.

Every single time you open the mic, you have a chance to connect with the listener, whether it’s just giving some information, or conveying the “presence” of your being right here beside me, listening to the song, too – or Entertaining me with some little quip or remark. If I (as a listener) think you’re just hammering out breaks with little or no caring behind them, that’s not going to draw me any closer to you…and that means you wasted opportunities to bond with me. That, my friend, would be a real shame.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2018 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #265 – Prep Tip: The 3 Questions

Here’s one of my primary tips for show prep, The 3 Questions. If you’ve read my “5 Subjects” tip, you already know the five categories of Content that will ALWAYS work (besides the obvious “station things” that will always be in the mix, like promoting events or features, etc.). But “The 5 Subjects” should be filtered through these three questions before you put them on the air:

1. Why is it on? “Because it’ll be funny” is NOT the answer. “Because I want to talk about it” is a truly terrible answer. Be sure about this — something should be on because either {A} the listener already has it on her/his mind, or {B} because the listener NEEDS to know about it, but may not have heard about it yet. Yes, there are other things, things that “grow out of the show”, which is the 5th item in the “5 Subjects” tip, but let’s keep our eye on the things that make you relevant first.

2. Where am I going with it? If you’ve read any of my stuff before, you know this is all about your unique “camera angle” on a given subject, and that you want to have a unique “destination” for what you do, not just settle for a typical ending that ANYONE could do.

3. What does it mean to my listener, right here, today? This is partly about being local, of course – and great local beats great syndicated almost every time. However, I’ve also worked with many syndicated shows and networks, so in those cases, it’s impossible to be local. So the bottom line is that what you’ve DONE with that subject has to RESONATE with the listener. Simply “covering” something isn’t enough. You have to connect with the listener; there has to be substance to it – even if it’s funny. In a nutshell, it’s about creating “memorable moments” – because the show with the most memorable moments will inevitably win.

Give some thought to upgrading your prep if you haven’t considered these three questions. Because someone else will if you won’t.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2018 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #141 – Brick-By-Brick

You construct a building brick-by-brick. If you don’t, it collapses.

You construct your show each day break-by-break. Or maybe that should read “You SHOULD construct it break-by-break,” because one of the weakest areas today is in putting a show together. General headings (“we’ll do something about the Super Bowl here”), things you just feel like talking about (whether the listener gives a cr*p or not), defaulting to quacking about a promotion or station event as some sort of failsafe device – these are, at best, incomplete thoughts. (And at worst, just lazy.)

It’s so easy to lay out a show:

1. First, list all the things you HAVE to do. (Contest, live spot, feature, guest, whatever.)

2. Then, list the things you WANT to do. (Remember that it has to matter to the listener already, or bring the listener up to date on something he/she needs to know, but may not have heard yet.)

3. Finally, when you start laying out what goes where, pay close attention to Balance. You don’t want two promotional breaks back-to-back, for instance. You don’t want to start something that might get some phone feedback, but not have anywhere to air the call(s).

When you build your show on a solid prep foundation, break-by-break, you automatically jump past everyone who doesn’t. Do it every day, and they’ll be calling Bekins soon to see if they have any boxes.

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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 #139 – Learn from Steven Wright

A couple of tips ago, I quoted several comedians to illustrate how ‘camera angles’ and vocabulary go hand-in-hand to shape memorable thoughts. One of them was Steven Wright. Here are just a few more examples of his brilliance:

• “I remember when the Candle Shop burned down. Everybody stood around singing ‘Happy Birthday.’”
• “If at first you don’t succeed…then skydiving definitely isn’t for you.”
• “Sponges grow in the ocean. This bothers me. How deep would it be if they didn’t?”
• “It doesn’t matter what temperature the room is. It’s always room temperature.”
• “My friend has a baby. I’m writing down all the noises the baby makes, so later I can ask him what he meant.”
• “I put instant coffee in a microwave oven and almost went back in time.”
• “What’s another word for thesaurus?

While it seems like funny thoughts just flow out of him like water, here’s what he says about his process: “For every four jokes I write, one is good enough to stay (in the act).”

So here are some questions for you:
Do you write four punch lines for every one you use?
If not, why not? Are you funnier than Steven Wright? (I know I’m not. Chances are you’re not, either.)
Is it because you’re lazy? Or is it because you think “That’s good enough”?
Because “good enough”…never is.

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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 #128 – The Space between Knowing and Doing

The space between KNOWING what to do and actually DOING it is the biggest space in the process. By isolating the purpose of each break—what this break is about, each time—you close the gap.

It’s never “Ready, Fire, Aim.” Unless you’re sure of how you’re starting, what the “plot points” are, and what the Destination of a break is, you’re playing Russian Roulette with that break, no matter how short or easy it may seem to be.

The time to do your thinking is BEFORE the mic opens. Then you just relax into the performance.

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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 #100 – Perishable food

This tip may seem pretty obvious, and I wish it were. But apparently it’s not, from what I hear flipping around the dial and working with Talents who tell me, “Yeah, I meant to do something on that, but I forgot to.”

Some Content is like perishable food. If you don’t use it quickly, it’ll go bad. If you have something that is time sensitive, find a place for it on the air NOW. Otherwise, it’s like you bought food, put it in the refrigerator, and then just let it sit there and spoil.

Yes, some other stuff is like a can of beans up in the pantry. It can be used anytime.
Here’s what I’d recommend:

1. Use the “perishable food” first.

2. Then throw the other stuff away. We’re not survivalists stocking up for the end of the world.

Seriously, if it’s the day after Memorial Day, for instance, and special ceremonies were held all over your city yesterday, you’d better talk about it today. By tomorrow it’s old news.

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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 #65 – Prep the Ending FIRST

This is the simplest way to guarantee success with any Content you do: Prep the ending first.

Here’s why:
Suppose you have several errands to run. You need to drop some clothes off at the dry cleaners, you’ve got to mail something, and you need to go to the grocery store. So to save gas and go in more of a straight line, you plan everything so you go to the grocery store last. If you don’t, you’re going to end up with a lot of refrigerated items melting in the back seat while you’re doing the other errands.

It’s the same way with everything on the air—know where you’re GOING. Where the “destination” is. THEN, plan the beginning—how you’ll get into whatever the subject is. You’ll find that the middle pretty much takes care of itself.

Saturday Night Live is a good example. Through the years, they’ve always had talented people in the cast, but when the show was strongest, every ‘bit’ had a sense of purpose—an ending or conclusion that was solid and provided some sort of resolution at the end. When the show was at its weakest, there were still some good ideas, but they just kind of fizzled out at the end.

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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 #54 – Today, tomorrow, next week, next month

Here’s a really simple way to do show prep. Think “Today, tomorrow, next week, next month.”

Today and tomorrow are pretty obvious, but there’s a reason to always glance at what’s coming up next week, or next month. It’s all about how the brain works. Once the “left brain” (the logical, mathematical, “everything in its place”) side is made aware of the “next big thing” the RIGHT side of the brain (the creative, emotional, artistic side) will start noodling around on how to do it well.

This also gives you time to put things in motion—maybe a promotional or social media angle or follow-up, or finding some music that will stage it perfectly on the air.

If you wait until the last minute and think you can just wing it, pray that I don’t start coaching your competition. You can’t do left brain AND right brain stuff at the same time with any great degree of success. No one can. That’s why golfers work on the practice range until things become subconscious, then when they get into a tournament, it’s not about swing thoughts, it’s just about hitting the shot.

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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 #48 – One thing, One thing, One thing

Here’s a quick and easy show prep tip.

Every day, bring in these three things:

1. One thing you saw. (Observing real life IS show prep.)
2. One thing that somebody else told you about. (The reason for this is that other people have different “camera angles” from yours.)
3. One thing you read. (But don’t read it to me. Just tell me about it.)

This will assure your having three solid things to talk about each day. If you’re in a two-person team show, you’ll have six things to talk about. When you add in the Content that the station provides—features, contests, website stuff, etc. the “empty page” fills up fast.

This process divorces you from the all-too-typical “crutch” material like “This Day in History”, Celebrity birthdays, or stealing lines or “bits” from someone else (which never sound like you), And because those 3 things you bring in will be different every day, your Wednesday show won’t just be a repeat of Tuesday’s show.

Jocks tend to think in terms of “benchmarks,” and build a list of things they do at certain times every day that can freeze you into an “autopilot” mentality. There’s room for benchmarks, but you also have to find ways of maintaining or generating that creative “spark.” The “one thing—one thing—one thing” method is an easy way to keep from growing stale, and stay interested in the non-Control room world….you know, the one your listener lives in.

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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 #24 — The 5 Subjects: How to choose Content

No doubt about it; the thing I get asked about the most is Content; what to talk about each day. Choosing the right Content is crucial to doing a great show, no matter what your radio station’s format is.

Some of your Content is provided for you with station promotions and events, contests, special listener “clubs” that give feedback on the music, stuff like that. And in a music format, there’s always stuff about the artists, concert dates (if they apply to your market), and whatever special musical features you provide.

But that’s only about half of what you need.

Here’s a good “default setting” list of The 5 Subjects that will always work:

1. The Economy—specifically Job Stuff. Money is the #1 motivator. Not enough money, you’re unhappy. Plenty of money, you want to protect it and make sure it doesn’t vanish overnight, so you can put your kids through school or have enough to retire someday. So job stuff is always something to pay attention to. And there’s always comparing our jobs to other people’s jobs. Take working at Walmart, for instance; that’s worse than being the President of a bank, but a lot better than being a javelin catcher.

2. Entertainment. We’re an Entertainment-driven nation. Whether it’s “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” hoping Miley Cyrus will have that tongue-shortening operation she so desperately needs, or just paying attention to the movies and TV shows your listener likes the most, the Entertainment world is ripe with stuff you can use. However, stay away from being obvious or salacious with it. And you can’t just read a bunch of stuff from websites. It has to be the same kind of conversation you’d have with a friend over lunch, or at a backyard barbecue.

3. Relationships. It’s all about relationships, really, whether it’s our friends, families, or co-workers. Relationships—good or bad—shape everything we do.

4. “The Buzz.” The thing today that everyone seems to be talking about should ALWAYS be on your radar screen. To not talk about it is to be an ostrich, with your head stuck in the sand, and there’s a real danger in seeming like you’re not aware of it. There’s one exception, however, and that’s if the Value position of your station means that you should avoid talking about it, like maybe something that people wouldn’t want the kids in the car to hear, for instance. In that case, you might want to make a point of saying that you’re NOT going to talk about it—and why.

5. “Things that grow out of the show.” As your career develops, you’ll find things that are unique to you. Use them. For example, one guy I work with, Don Godman, made a wonderful little feature out of his son’s adventures, called “The Gavin Report.” It’s delivered—by Gavin—like a child’s news magazine, with something like going to a museum or the State Fair being an “episode.” It’s the single most remembered thing about Don’s show. His audience feels like they’ve watched his son grow up on the radio.

If what you want to talk about doesn’t fit into one of these categories, I’d strongly recommend that you just toss it. Even Politics should “qualify” by being “the buzz” or looking at how the issues affect people’s lives and relationships.

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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.