Tommy Kramer Tip #184 – No Excuses

It seems like one of the main themes of life in the 21st century is dodging accountability. I see this all the time, where a talent needs to hear something in order to improve, but if it’s not sugar-coated or paired with pleasant compliments first, they reject it simply because it wasn’t delivered gift-wrapped like they wanted.

So rather than working on getting better, they pout, and think that complaining about it or giving off a wounded vibe will buy them some time. Yeah, right. Time to stand still.

If you’re the talent, you should never settle for this. If you’re not learning more, you’re going backwards.

As a programmer, never let a talent point the finger at the boss or the coach. Give them a homework assignment instead, like listening to a station or specific air talent they can learn from. Don’t ever mollycoddle the notion of not trying to get better EVERY DAY.

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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 #154 — A Coaching Tip About Coaching

Okay, so you’d like your air staff to get better, but you don’t think you can afford someone like me or Randy Lane or Valerie Geller.

Let me help you with this thought: “It’s not ever about how good we are today. It’s about what we can do tomorrow to get even better.”

True coaching isn’t scolding or critiquing. It’s helping a talent always be refining things to get to another level. Strategy – the station’s strategy, the sound you want your jocks to have, the momentum you want to build into your formatics – dictates Tactics, NOT the other way around.

A CHR station, for instance, probably won’t do well with the typical “Rock Dog” approach we still hear on way too many Rock or Classic Rock stations. So you have to shape the on-air approach accordingly.

I would add two more guidelines: [1] One “big” thing, one “little thing” per session. For most air talents, this is all they can handle. Some advanced talents can handle more points, but I’d still shy away from a “laundry list” of things in any one session. [2] Be patient, but direct and specific in letting a talent know what you’re after. “I’ll know it when I hear it” only means that you’ll never hear it. Call a PLAY.

That’ll hold you until you can find the budget to hire a truly great talent coach. (The two people I mentioned are excellent. No doubt there are a few others.)

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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 #58 – What we SAY to jocks versus what they HEAR

Gary Larson, the creator of The Far Side comic strip, had this great two-panel cartoon. The first panel was titled, “What we say to dogs.” A guy scolding his dog was saying “Okay, Ginger! I’ve had it! You stay out of the garbage! Understand, Ginger? Stay out of the garbage, or else!” The second panel was titled, “What they hear.” Same drawing–the guy pointing his finger at the dog, but the dog is hearing him say, “Blah blah GINGER blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah GINGER blah blah blah blah blah.”

This not only applies to the Listener—you have to be talking about things that he or she CARES about—it also applies to your Air Talent. Say you’ve had a coaching session, and decided that for the next two weeks, you want the Talent to work on being concise.

When you listen to audio of the show together, talking about anything other than that point just translates to “blah…blah…blah” to the Talent. What he or she wants and needs is for you to address the one thing that you said to work on.
So your responsibility is to have the discipline and patience to “lay one brick at a time” instead of trying to build the whole house at once.

A great way to approach using aircheck audio in sessions is to have the Talent bring in something that he or she would like you to listen to. That way, you get an idea of their level of understanding, and their opinions of themselves. (You also make the Talent a part of the process, instead of just conducting a lecture series.)

But remember what they hear.

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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 #47 – No empty compliments, please

If you want to really coach instead of just critique, here’s what your Talent doesn’t need to hear: generic thoughts like “You had a good show today”…or “You guys were really funny this morning.”

These types of non-specific comments, even well intentioned, are too vague to result in any real progress. Remember that Air Talents, if they’re really good (or if they’re ever going to BECOME really good), are like musicians. They work on their performances note by note, measure by measure, a little more precise here, a little more subtle there, until they put together the end result.

Part of your job in helping your Talent get better is to talk about specific breaks. “I really liked it when you asked that caller about X” or “That bit about X was really great” homes the Talent in on exact ingredients of the performance that please you, and that hit the target in terms of the way you want the station to connect with the Listener.

If you can, play the example for the Talent, then make your comments and get response from him/her. Think of yourself as both the Conductor of the orchestra and a collaborator with each musician.

And you don’t have to always be rah-rah positive. It’s okay to play a break, then ask “What were you thinking there?” or “Where was this going? What was the ending supposed to be?” Reinforcing that there needs to be a point to each break, and that Prep is essential, aren’t negative thoughts. They’re just “workshop” techniques to increase focus. You don’t have to be a jackass about it, but in the long run, what people learn while they work for you is the bottom line. (It’s also okay for you to realize that coaching isn’t your strongest point, and to hire a specialist. It can make your job so much easier.)

If, as an air talent, you’re not getting specifics from your PD, take some tape in there, play it for him (or her), and get some feedback. Remember, if you’re not getting better all the time……..you’re not getting better…all the time!

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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.