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.

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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 #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.

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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 #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.

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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 #185 – Intimacy, and how to get it (a Team Show tip)

Intimacy is the most unique ingredient in a team show, because often what works against it is that a team’s individual roles get “assigned” – or at least defined – by the PD or Consultant. Sometimes, in trying to stick to those definitions, intimacy just drops off the radar screen.

In reality, the roles don’t matter when it comes to this particular quality.

Every great show has Intimacy – and the more THAT element stands out, the stronger the team will be as a whole.

Here’s the tricky part: The Strategy is to reveal. But the Tactic is to not compete with or impede that happening. If you don’t know how to prep, but still be largely spontaneous, you might want to get some help with that. As Pierce Brosnan said in ‘Mama Mia’, “It’s only the rest of your life.”

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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 #180 – Technique versus Style

In coaching, the typical fear is always that you, as a talent, might actually have to change some things in order to become more fully fleshed out. Technique is a part of it, and there are many Program Directors who are very good at teaching the various techniques that work best in any given format. I’ve got my own set (what a lot of people have called “The Kramer Rules”) that form that firmament, the solid rock foundation a talent builds on.

Caution: Techniques that don’t grow out of a specific Strategy are just flotsam floating by. Strategy dictates Techniques, not the other way around.

And then you have Style, which is what we work on the most. Many air talents think they already have a certain style, but it’s really just a mish-mash of techniques wrapped around an Attitude.

So I believe the way to look at it is yes, you want to learn the right techniques – and which ones are outdated, or just wrong from the word “go”. But how you DO those techniques are where your true Style comes from.

Example: The brilliant Mike Fisher, a truly great writer and fine air talent, was part of the staff at my last PD gig, a Talk station in Dallas. Early on, we went over certain techniques to handle callers – no “hi, how ya doin’ today?” stuff (no one cares), ONE point from each caller, no phony “and Jess has something to say…” antiquated “entry lines” into a call, etc.

And Mike did well, but he put his own twist on it with this phone call solicitation: “Get in, get on, and be good,” followed by giving the phone number.

That statement, that “set of rules” for his callers to follow, defined his Style. No b. s. was going to be tolerated, no filibusters, no boring analysis. Get in, get on, and be good. The pressure was on the CALLER, not Mike.

Brilliant.

– – – – – – –
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 #179 – Lee Abrams, Being Positive, Board Work

On the day I’m writing this tip, I just heard from my buddy Mancow Muller in Chicago. He’s not just an outstanding talent, but he also lives a very interesting life, seemingly knows everyone, and always has great stories to tell.

Tonight he’s having dinner with The Moody Blues (I love them), and radio genius Lee Abrams.

Lee and I go back to 1973 in Chicago, later worked in Cleveland together, and have stayed friends all this time. If you’re not familiar with Lee, just Google him. His accomplishments are amazing, but the things I remember most about being around Lee are (1) he was encouraging, but still mindful of what a talent needed to do to get to a higher level, and (2) he always, always, always, worded everything in positive language.

“Don’t miss this one” became “Make sure to see this one,” for instance. Our weather forecasts didn’t say “partly cloudy.” We said “partly sunny” or (even better) “some sunshine,” etc.

This carried forward into the hallways, too. There were no negative thoughts in a coaching session with Lee – ever.
For example, once, in Chicago, Lee wrote a post-aircheck session recap to the wonderful Gary Gears. Lee assured him that he was going to be the most popular afternoon drive jock in the country, praised all the gifts that Gary brought to the table, etc. Then at the bottom, Lee added:
P. S. Of course, learning to run the board is a prerequisite.

Hilarious.

I miss that time with Lee, and wonder how many stations now even THINK about things like whether something is worded as a positive or a negative, and whether board work even MATTERS.

The radio is full of sloppy, uncaring, slamming-things-on-top-of-one-another board work everywhere now. It’s tempting to fall back on the easiest excuse: “It’s because the computer runs everything.” But remember, your listeners hear this, too.

So let me channel Lee Abrams now and put it this way: We can CHANGE that.

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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 #178 – The Different Meanings of “Experience”

Wish I could tell you how many times a PD has said he wanted to keep someone aboard, or hire someone, because he or she “has 20 years of experience.”

On the surface, that would seem like a real plus. But there are different types of experience. For example, I’ve had people name off the morning shows they were part of, only to find out (after some further fact-checking) that he or she was only a Producer that appeared on the air once in a while, not a full-fledged partner. That’s a completely different level of experience.

Look, some people have 20 years of continuous learning, while others THINK they have 20 years of “experience”, but it’s really only been 4 years of experience repeated five times. They didn’t LEARN anything after the first few years, either because no one at their past job(s) could really teach them, or because they got to a certain level, had some success, and came to believe that they knew all they needed to know. (Good luck with that. That’s the dinosaur that I call Jockosauras Rex.)

When you’re looking to hire someone, don’t go by “experience”. Go by what you hear, and what you feel in the interviewing process. Ask specific questions about what they’ve done. Call the people they used to work with, if you can. Listen to the station they last worked for (or are still at). Some people are true stars at a very young age. Others are just repeating what they’ve always done, and are stuck there.

The first thing I do with a talent is try to get a feel for whether or not that person is still willing to LEARN, regardless of how much so-called “experience” he or she might have.

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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 #176 – Why You Shouldn’t Let Ratings Methodology Drive You Crazy

Ratings are important, obviously, but the “analytical” mindset can be crippling. Look at Sports, for instance. Baseball is talking about having computers “decide” whether a pitch is a ball or a strike, then relay the call through an ear bud to the home plate umpire, who will then repeat it.
The National Football League STILL can’t tell what a catch is – and pass interference is a complete mystery. NO ONE knows what it is. I’ve seen wide receivers practically clubbed to death, and nothing is called. But on other days, if you even tell a guy you don’t like his car, it’s a 15-yard penalty.

To me, obsessing over ratings, particularly weekly ratings, is rather insane.

By and large, you have to [1] play the right music, [2] have your service elements – News, Traffic, Weather – actually BE of service (not, say, a forecast recorded at 4am by a TV weather guy who cut it between teeth whitening treatments), and [3] have air talents who are the most engaging, the most relevant to my life, and/or the most entertaining. THEN I’ll listen. If you don’t, no weekly PPM measurement can help you, because you’ve substituted left-brain information for what is essentially a right-brain challenge.

Weekly ratings are a joke, like measuring your kid’s height every day. You need a little more time between measurements to get the full picture.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about ratings, but don’t let them take your eye off the ball.

Radio pioneer Gordon McClendon said, “Be Informative, Be Entertaining, or Be Quiet.” (But we all knew that “or be quiet” really meant “or you’ll be gone soon.”) Don’t WAIT for ratings methodology to tell you the obvious, or make you focus on things that won’t cure your problems. PROGRAM the station. Hire great people. Tell them the Strategy. And if they need it, get them some coaching help.

I can tell you if a station’s a Top 3 station in fifteen minutes of listening. Because something that happens on the air during that time will MATTER to me.

Work on that.

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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 #175 – Is Your Show Actually FUN?

As more and more research flows in, one thing is clear: One of the main reasons people become fans of a show is “It’s fun!”

Now besides the fact that “fun” and “funny” are not the exact same thing, the takeaway should be making a really focused assessment of what you do each day, and holding your feet to the fire on whether or not it’s actually fun for the LISTENER, not just you.

An old friend contacted me last week to start working with his midday talent, but in the process of bringing each other up to speed on our lives, he mentioned that his morning show still does “The Impossible Question” trivia thing. He said, “It’s a lot of fun, and people really like it.”

Well…no, not really. Trivia – unless you really frame it in a way that’s fun – is not inherently fun or even interesting in itself. (Of all the contests you can do on the air, trivia tests the worst BY FAR. The reason is simple. It’s not 1972 anymore. With the 24/7 News cycle and the internet, trivia doesn’t pack much punch anymore. If I Google “trivia” – which I just did – 178 MILLION websites come up. So it’s certainly not unique or hard to find anymore. Plus, I can just ask Siri and have the answer in under 5 seconds.)

The Secret Sound? Well, okay, IF you do it right. A series of “No, that’s not right, but thanks for trying” breaks on the air burn a hole in the listener’s brain after a very short while.

That great thing you do where your little kid, who can barely talk, is on the air…is that fun? Are you sure?

So I guess what it boils down to is asking yourself, “Is this show actually fun?” Be honest. Tweak whatever needs it; throw away what can’t be improved.

The listener WILL find fun somewhere. You have to make yourself the best choice for that.

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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 #172 – Learn from Mike Nichols, Part 3

In his last interview, the great director, actor, and comedian Mike Nichols really opened the door to what fueled his process.

I’ve talked about a couple of his concepts in the last two tips, but this one may be the most important one when it comes to understanding what really creates a distinguishable and memorable presence on the air:

Your show, like a movie or play, isn’t totally real life. It’s a VERSION of real life.
And your persona on the air isn’t totally you. It’s a VERSION of you.

Don’t really like an artist you play? I doubt if saying that on the air will endear you to the listener who adores that artist.

Reading something for the 50th time this week? Make it sound like you just thought of it, and you have a real INTEREST in it.

Can’t stand kids? Well, depending on the format, you may not want to reveal that fact.

My friend and partner John Frost talks about being “transparent” on the air, and I agree, with my version being “Crack your chest open and show us what’s in there.” BUT, I don’t believe in total transparency. Some things aren’t useful, or reveal a side of you that may work against trying to win over more listeners.

As I’ve taught this over the years, many times the reaction has been indignant, with something like, “But that’s not me.”

You do get that Tom Hanks isn’t really Forrest Gump, right? And he’s not the guy in Saving Private Ryan, either. It’s ACTING. However, each of those characters IS a version of him.

If you need help creating the most effective version of you, get it. Every athlete, every actor has a coach…for that very reason.

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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.