Tommy Kramer Tip #218 – The Real Nature of Personality

“Personality” is one of those words that’s used constantly, but is vague in its meaning.

I had a session with a veteran talent recently in which the issue was his talking about things on the air, but without any real investment into making it something other than just bullet points being read to the listener.

So I reminded him to just keep on relaxing into it, and to “color” those things (a local Civil War photography show, a regional agricultural “festival”) with personal comments and ‘takes’ on what those EXPERIENCES – not just events on a page – might be like.

Here’s how I summarized it:
Even just a small “aside” like you said today about the rain in the forecast, “We need it for the cherry tomatoes,” brings the listener a step closer to you.

“Personality” isn’t just about being funny; it’s about how personally the listener gets to know you.

– – – – – – –
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 #214 – How birds see the world: a tip inspired by Gary Larson

Gary Larson, creator of “The Far Side” cartoon series, is someone I really admire. Do your art, sell fifty million copies of the book “collections” of it, then abruptly retire at 45 years old to reap the benefits of your genius. Well done, Mr. Larson. We treasure you.

“How birds see the world” is one of his most famous drawings. I reprint it here with no permission granted to do so; I don’t own it (and would really rather not get sued over it, please):

Honestly, I think that’s the way a lot of stations – and certainly a lot of the people I hear on the air – see the listeners sometimes: a “receptacle” for what we drop on them. (We even REFER to people as “the target listener.”)

But what you SHOULD do is value the listener’s time and attention span like a Scuba diver values the air in his tanks.

The Code:

Don’t just read something; put it in your own words.
Don’t refer to me in a “collective” way. I’m not “all of you” or “the listeners”.
Don’t assume that just because you think something’s interesting or funny, the listener will automatically think that, too.

Do keep things brief. Resist the temptation to tie everything up with a neat bow around it at the end. Usually it’s unnecessary.
Do promote what needs promoting, but keep in mind that constant “teasing” feels manipulative and sounds cloying.
Do aim at the “target Listener”, but don’t rule ANYONE out.

Make great radio – every day, in every way you can think of.

– – – – – – –
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 #213 – Celebrate Your Quirkiness

Okay, today – after we celebrated our freedom with July 4th cookouts, ball games, fireworks, etc. – let’s add one more step: Celebrate Your Quirkiness.

I’m not talking about inventing some bit for on-air. I’m talking about using the things that define you – the things that are sort of private.

In one of my earliest tips, “The 5 Subjects”, I outline [1] Jobs stuff/wallet/economy; [2] the Entertainment world; [3] Relationships, [4] “The Buzz” – THE thing that everyone’s talking about today (which could come under one of the other categories); and [5] Things that ‘grow out of the show’. That 5th one is the one that’s the most difficult to define for people, because it’s completely organic. THAT’S what this week’s tip is about. Two examples:

1. Brant Hansen is a brilliant mind, and is definitely different from anyone else I’ve ever coached in the Contemporary Christian format. This format has been traditionally seen as lacking much genuine personality, but Brant and a few others have been pioneers in turning that around. Once, when we were still getting to know each other, it came up that I play guitar. Brant mentioned that he plays the accordion. I then told him an ancient joke – “what’s the difference between a snake lying dead in the middle of the road and an accordion player lying dead in the middle of the road? The snake was probably on his way to a gig.”

It wasn’t long before Brant started playing his accordion on the air, as part of a contest. Cute, odd, but HIS.

2. Howard Clark was one of the greats, part of the original KFRC staff in San Francisco when consultant Bill Drake’s Top 40 stations ruled the earth. Late in his career, Howard came back home to work in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, and had a profound impact on me. One day, I was listening to “Hired” (as he called himself on occasion) and a song ended, then a recorded announcement by the huge-voiced Charlie Van Dyke came on and said, “And now, Howard Clark looks at the weather…”

Then you heard Howard’s chair squeak, a few steps taken across a floor, a door open, then Howard walking waaaaaaay down a lonnnnng hallway, the back door opening (a creaking screen door that hadn’t been oiled since 1957), then Howard’s voice muttering “Mmm hmm……….yep……..”

….and then you heard the back door creak shut, Howard walking the 50 steps back down the hallway, the Control Room door closing, we heard a few more steps, then his chair squeaked, then Charlie Van Dyke’s voice said, “This has been ‘Howard Clark looks at the weather’…” Then a station jingle played, and a song started.

No forecast. No temperatures “at the airport.” Just that little moment.

I still think of these two things, years later.
What have you done that’s quirky – that’s really you, and ONLY you – for your listeners to remember?

DO SOMETHING. Maybe someone will notice you. You can’t get Arbitron diaries or PPM devices without people.

– – – – – – –
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 #211 – Seinfeld’s Three Rules of Living

There’s an HBO Special called “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast”.
It’s about people 90 years of age or more that are still vibrant and productive, featuring Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, TV Producer Norman Lear, and many others – and, with occasional comments, Jerry Seinfeld.

At one point late in the special, Jerry lays out his “3 Rules of Living”. They are:

1. Bust your ass. Whatever you do, work as hard as you can. Give it everything you’ve got.

2. Pay attention. Notice the things around you all the time. Appreciate them all the time.

3. Fall in love. Not just romantic love. Love your parking space. Love your sandwich. Seinfeld tells about having breakfast with George Burns once, and Burns said “This may be the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had in my life.” In his mid-nineties, Burns still had the desire to see something worth relishing every day.

Now ask yourself these questions:
Do you work hard every day? In this era of the computer running everything (usually pretty sloppily), it’s easy to get lazy. Do you just pluck items off some prep sheet to quack about instead of getting out and discovering things that your listener is talking about? Do you rely on callers to “do the show for you?” (Someone said that to me at a convention one year. I wanted to scream.) The “topics and phone calls” thing can wear really thin really fast, and dominates way too much radio time that could be spent on something more immediate and impactful. You could….what do they call it?…oh yeah, you could DO a SHOW.

Do you pay attention to what’s around you? In my on-air days, I often drove into work using a different route, or just turning a block or two sooner or later than normal, so I could see stuff like which store was opening (or closing), what kind of roadwork was starting (and when), etc.

Are you in love with your job? Do you have a real appreciation for the listener’s time? I hear a lot of shows that virtually dismiss the precious ‘one on one’ connection all the time, by talking to “listeners” or “those of you” or even worse, “all the people listening out there.” Do you still, in 2017, not realize that people have LOTS of other options? If you don’t care about what you’re doing, why should they?

There’s a reason that Seinfeld is definitely on the Mount Rushmore of Comedians – and it’s not just that he can think up jokes. Adopt his “3 Rules” and you’ll have a better career and a better life.

– – – – – – –
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 #208 — The Most Important Ingredient in Putting More Callers on the Air

Note: This tip is written specifically for music stations. But the “quality control” goal should be in every Talk show, too.

It’s not a “bad” idea per se to supplement the Content that you create with a phone call or two from listeners. But it’s not an automatic “must have” ingredient, either. And it can become a “crutch” pretty easily.

Here’s the most important ingredient in putting them on the air:

NO “B” or “C”-level calls allowed. None. Only “A”-level callers with something that actually contributes a thought that moves the subject forward, gives it a different slant, or provides some sort of “resolution” should make it onto the air. The minute you accept less, you dive head first into the generic “topics and phone calls” pool that already has too many people in it.

I’ve done and coached shows that hardly ever ran calls, and I’ve done and coached shows that were – at times – very phone call intensive. But the “A”-level rule always applies. Great radio is made up of COMPELLING moments. If a call doesn’t provide that, it doesn’t deserve being aired.

This leads back to something I say a lot: Do a SHOW. It may seem counterintuitive, but when you don’t NEED calls, that’s when you not only get more of them, but you get better ones, too.

Getting great phone callers isn’t an accident. It’s a plan. In a future tip, I’ll give you another peek into how that works.

– – – – – – –
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 #207 – The Difference Between an Aircheck Session and a Coaching Session

In the last tip, I spoke about a magic key to getting to the top level as a talent – the ability to edit yourself even as you’re speaking.

What I purposely didn’t say is that in over 20 years of coaching somewhere around 1700 air talents, I’ve never seen anyone who was just “born” with this. It always requires coaching or mentoring in some form.

So let’s deal with the elephant in the room: most air talents detest going into an aircheck session with the PD. Period.
And that’s because there’s a big difference between “critique” and “coaching”.

There is no such thing as “constructive criticism”. That’s just criticism.
Unlike an aircheck session, which seems to always be about finding something wrong, coaching is about three main things:

1. Shoring up weaknesses and losing bad habits. (The Fundamentals.)

2. Finding what each talent’s biggest strengths are. (They may not know.)

3. Gradually stripping AWAY the things a talent doesn’t do well, so that eventually, ALL YOU DO IS WHAT YOU’RE REALLY GOOD AT.

You want to be Michael Jordan playing basketball, not Michael Jordan playing baseball. A good coach would have told him to stick with what he did best and add a couple more years to his legacy, instead of becoming just a source of amusement playing a game he wasn’t good at.

– – – – – – –
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 #201 – What TV can learn from Radio, and vice-versa

You would think that TV and Radio are like brothers or cousins, each putting out their product with an all-encompassing view of what the experience is like from the viewer’s or listener’s perspective.

And you would be wrong.

In reality, TV doesn’t care enough (if at all) about SOUND. In my experience of coaching many television air talents, it’s pretty much all about what it LOOKS like. The end result is usually a bunch of talking heads reading words from teleprompters that real people would never say in an actual conversation. (“The alleged suspect was apprehended” instead of “they caught the guy.”) But the time they could use to rewrite it gets spent on their hair and makeup.

Radio, for the most part, doesn’t care enough about the PICTURES it’s creating. Sure, the best talents are all about “word pictures”, but way too often nowadays, in the era of voice-trackers that don’t even live in the market the station is in, they just put a “smile” in their delivery and read things. Ick.

If TV personalities thought more about the WORDS they’re saying, they’d be more three-dimensional. And if radio personalities thought more about creating a PICTURE in the listener’s mind instead of just giving information, they’d draw that listener closer every single day.

Just because you’re ON doesn’t mean that people are actually paying attention to you. You EARN that. Or not. Your choice.

– – – – – – –
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 #194 – THE Role Model for Team Shows

Often in coaching, I find that the best examples may lie outside the radio arena. A lot of the techniques and strategies I teach come from movies, music, and Sports.

At one station I work with, finding the right partner in a team show has been an ongoing issue. Having worked with literally hundreds of team shows, I was brought into the discussion of “what to look for.”

My example had nothing to do with radio: John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Here’s why…

Lennon was primarily known for aggressive, edgy songs like “Revolution”, “Day Tripper”, “I Am the Walrus”, “Help!”, “A Hard Day’s Night”, etc.

McCartney was mostly known for pretty songs, like “Yesterday”, “And I Love Her”, “Let It Be”, “The Long and Winding Road”, “Hey Jude”, etc.

But Lennon also wrote beautiful songs: “In My Life”, “Girl”, “If I Fell”, and “All You Need is Love”. And McCartney wrote some really powerful, straightforward rockers, like “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Helter Skelter”, “Back in the USSR”, and “Drive My Car”.

And THAT’S what you want in a team show: people who may be defined by ONE thing each of them does, but they CAN do other things. Picture the Olympic rings – slightly overlapping circles with a common area they share, and a larger area that’s unique to each.

Two people who are nothing alike can result in a tug-of-war on the air. Two people who at least have SOMETHING in common, but come to that only once in a while to join forces – well, there’s that “extra dimension” that you should be looking for.

– – – – – – –
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 #192 – The Relationship between Ego and Confidence

Over the last two decades of coaching hundreds of radio stations, I’ve rarely heard this dealt with, except behind closed doors. (Usually the GM or PD questioning me about a “difficult” talent.)

If you really want a better daypart, a raise, or even just genuine respect between yourself and your boss, it has to be earned. Many, many times, a jock has told me that he or she would like to be given a shot at a drive-time slot or maybe being an APD. My answer is always the same: Make yourself the best CANDIDATE for that position.

But if you drill a little deeper, you’ll see that the reason the “higher-ups” haven’t given you that opportunity is actually in the same ballpark that getting the listener to bond with you lives.

Here’s what it boils down to:
Ego without Confidence = no.
Confidence without Ego = yes.

A closer look at this:
We all have egos. A healthy ego is fine, but DISPLAYS of ego are off-putting.
Confidence is what you want to exude. Ego works against that. We all follow the most confident person, but we rarely ever just follow the person with the biggest ego.

– – – – – – –
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 #191 – Ratings: Turn the Page

By now, you’ve probably seen the latest ratings. Often, if they’re not what we hope for, it’s easy to sink into “the sky is falling” mentality that tends to dominate the hallways when a station has a down “book”.

Yes, it does look like the political climate, the clownish debates, and the election process and aftermath hurt a lot of formats. While many Country, A/C, CHR, and Contemporary Christian stations got slapped around a bit, the clear beneficiary was the News/Talk arena.

So what do you do now? Here’s what I’m telling my non-News/Talk stations:

It doesn’t matter. Turn the page. Assume that TODAY is the day ratings start (or end). The point is, EVERY break we do has the potential to make a listener either [1] come back or stick around for a second helping, or [2] hit another button because we didn’t give them a reason to stay.

– – – – – – –
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.