Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #280 – What You’d Say to Your Best Friend

The old saying is “Content is King.” And there’s no doubt that Content HAS to be relevant and memorable to make people want to listen to you more today, or again tomorrow.

But Content isn’t “King”, PERFORMANCE is. If you sound like a game show host, or have that “disc jockey delivery”, you’re becoming a Deejaysaurus Rex, an extinct species.

So a lot of the work I do, after simplifying the search for Content down to reflecting on what the listener actually CARES about each day, is just about Performance (read that as “Delivery”).

Here’s an easy guideline to follow: Is what you just said on the air something you’d say to your best friend? Because if you talked to your best buddy like an “announcer”, he’d probably just look at you like “What is the matter with you?”

You want to project just enough so you “penetrate the mix”, meaning that someone can hear you in the car, with traffic around them. But any more than that, you’re a cartoon. I call this “Real plus ten percent.” But an overwhelming majority of air talents are “Real plus fifty percent.” I can spot those people in ONE break on an aircheck or a live “listen”. And so can the listener.

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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 #279 – The Social/Digital Agenda, and What Really Works

The Social Media/Digital Content tidal wave. It seems like the entire radio world seems to be dwelling on this now, but frankly, without a lot of progress. There’s a lot of activity, but not much in the way of results. Here’s why: Facebook (and all social media) is what people do to kill time; but radio is what people use as a companion while they’re actually DOING something.
(And for purposes of this discussion, let’s not even talk about podcasts. Their rate of success is minimal, and they’re not even going to begin being monetized to any successful degree for another decade.)

But here’s what DOES work, in my opinion: SHOW ME MORE THAN WHAT I HEARD (on the air).
The “peek behind the curtain” factor is what really pulls people in. Wally of “The Wally Show” on WAY-FM is a great example. He’s posted scores of videos on You Tube and ‘social’ with a lot of success, because even though someone might have heard, for example, singer Jimmy Needham stack cakes of Spam into the shape of a pyramid with his MOUTH in order to get Wally to play his song, SEEING it is a whole other experience – an additional experience.

Video of you running back into the room, hopping past a chair to put your headphones on, or dropping something you’re reading, etc. — “outtakes” — are, to use Paul Harvey’s term, “the REST of the story” for our medium, and about the only thing I’ve seen so far that actually enhances the listening experience, and might possibly drive people to the show through the additional avenue of social/digital.

Another terrific example is Johnjay Van Es, of the Johnjay & Rich Show. Johnjay is constantly posting on Instagram and Facebook, and his “Love Pup” campaign is the stuff of radio legend. Not only does it dig deeper into some of what you hear on the show, but it also reveals his heart in a truly dramatic way.

You can waste a lot of time creating what you think people will click on and then immediately come to your show as a result. And if you’re using social primarily just to promote, you’re setting yourself up to fail. (A lot of eople are sick of every single thing you ever talk about being followed by their being told to go to your website or Facebook page for more.) Keep in mind that most people don’t go to Facebook, Instagram, etc. searching for Content. They go to see pictures of their kids/nieces/nephews/grandkids, or “Minions” memes. That’s the real world. Like all winning Strategy (and what I coach people to do every day), you have to start with what people are actually thinking about – what actually MATTERS to them — then reflect it back to them, filtered through your observations, experiences, and opinions.

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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 #278 – What you can learn about Radio from the NFL

The National Football League may not be what you’d think of in designing a great radio station – but it’s an excellent example of what CAN happen.

The “old” NFL was grind-it-out, three yards and a cloud of dust, run the ball most of the time, pass when you had to, cautious. In a word, BORING.
The new NFL is “let it fly” quarterbacks who’ll throw in ANY down-and-distance situation, “go for the ball” defensive backs, “sack the quarterback” pass rushing linemen, trick plays. Pinball-fast pace.

So which description fits your station? Do you grind out “blah” Imaging, play the same 280 songs until people are completely sick of them, clot the hour up with huge commercial blocks, have jocks reading promotional stuff (or spouting out your so-called “Positioning phrase”) all the time? Does it seem to the listener that practically every break end with your website address? (A pet peeve of mine.)

Or do you have TRUE momentum (not just a fast pace), where every song has the cue tone in EXACTLY the right place, breaks are short and purposeful, Personality is encouraged, and it just flat MOVES, so you never waste the listener’s time?

You can create a station where the #1 thing is Momentum, and #1A is Relevance. And yes, my area, talent coaching, is a key. But your commitment to moving forward to a NEW “golden era of radio” is THE decision.

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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 #274 – Everybody Cares

Over decades of radio, including working with literally hundreds of stations in all different formats, I’ve found that there’s one thing every truly great station has, and the ones that aren’t great don’t have: Everybody cares.

In a station where everybody cares, no sloppy Production is done (or left for someone else to do), attention to detail is a “given”, and bad or uncooperative attitudes are simply not tolerated. You find high-profile, high-level talent, but no prima donnas. Everyone is clear on what the Strategy of the station is, and that strategy is carried out on every level, from the person answering the phones to the General Manager.

That may sound pretty obvious, but if it’s so “obvious”, why don’t more stations have it?

Here’s the deciding factor: if even ONE person DOESN’T care, that poison gas will eventually affect the whole staff.
Example: a person who voice tracks a show when he or she could have done it live leads to another jock, who puts in MORE effort, feeling unappreciated – especially if the one with a better work ethic is making less money. And then the dominoes start to fall. Resentment sets in, grudges are held, communication stops – and in the communication BUSINESS, that’s a killer.

I walk into stations sometimes where you can’t HEAR the station at all. No audio coming from speakers in the hallways, deathly quiet offices, no “buzz” about what’s happening on the air. This drives me crazy. If YOU don’t care enough to listen to your own station, why should anyone else?

Just this past week, a PD of a major market station told me that her afternoon jock had scheduled a doctor’s appointment for one of his kids DURING HIS AIR SHIFT – which is only THREE hours – and voice-tracked his show that day. This should not be tolerated. Those three hours should be blocked out as untouchable by anything else.
So that station is doomed. Dead Man Walking.
Disclaimer: Yes, I realize that there are exceptions, and I’m not urging you to violate HR concerns. Your kid woke up sick, and that was the only time you could get him in to see the doctor, or a single parent scenario not giving you any options. But this wasn’t one of those instances. This was just someone electing – with other options available – to knock out his show when there was alarming weather coming in and Traffic complications that it would cause, and he should have been on live.

So from a coaching standpoint, here’s the bottom line: simply CARE. Infuse the other air talents around you to care – about their performance on the air, their Production, their interest in comparing notes and listening to each other and always trying to get better. And make that your default setting, with NO exceptions.

Because in the end, winners and losers are often decided by who cares the most.

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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 #262 — The Main Difference between Facebook and Radio

With all the conversations going on in radio circles about the uses of social media, there’s a giant, Grand Canyon-sized difference being overlooked. Let’s just use Facebook as the best example, simply because it’s the most-utilized social media platform.

As of this writing, there are about 225 million people in the United States using Facebook.

But there are over 323 million people in this country, and well over 90% of them listen to radio for a significant amount of time every single day. So radio has somewhere between sixty-five to ninety million more people using it every single day than Facebook does.

I’ve talked a lot about how random postings on Facebook don’t make for compelling radio Content; quite the opposite, usually. And this is why: because they’re used in totally different ways.

Facebook is where people go to kill time.
But radio is where people go for companionship.
A Facebook “conversation” can’t possibly compete on a regular basis with an air talent, right here, right now, in this moment, saying something relevant to me. It can’t give me the weather (like the other day, when I heard a midday jock say “It just started raining a couple of minutes ago…”), it can’t update me on where the traffic is bottled up, it can’t comment on a song I’m listening to, or share something about the artist as the song starts. And Facebook, by its very design, can’t possibly have the same one-on-one feeling in the car that good radio has.

Don’t be fooled by all the naysayers that insist radio is dead, and social media is everything. Neither one of those is true. They may SOUND true, but they’re simply not. They’re incomplete thoughts, based on a dismissive attitude toward the best tried-and-true social medium in the world – RADIO.

It’s fine to use social media as additional ways to make contact with the listener, but that’s all they are. For the foreseeable future, nothing’s going to replace radio. That said, your challenge is to do something worth listening to when you open the mic.

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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 #253 – Your Show as a Demo Tape

Whatever you do well, congratulations on that. I mean that sincerely. The good things that you do each day make a great impression.

Similarly, when you say things more than once (as radio continues to do, trying to beat a thought into the listener’s head), or you do “the moral of the story” obligatory recap at the end of something, or say radio clichés (like “on your Monday morning,” “Hump day”), or do something silly and outdated (like “The Mindbender Question of the Day” or “This Day in History”), those make an impression, too. As my friend and partner Alan Mason says, “Everything counts.”

So, weed the garden regularly. Listen to your own show at least once a week. Add new ideas all the time. Consistency = Good. Predictability = Bad.

Think of your show as a demo tape. Because to the listener, it actually IS.

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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 #234 – Reveal…not Reveal with an Agenda

In the last tip, I talked about learning something about you each day, and how essential that “reveal” is to becoming a three-dimensional personality to the listener. Here’s a deeper look at it:

You should reveal something about yourself EVERY day, but not with an agenda.

Last week, on an automotive Talk show I coach in Houston, the female cohost said, “Ask Mike your question, ‘cause if you ask me, I’ll just say ‘Pick the fast one, in black.’” That changed her from being just the “announcer” of the show to a Personality – in ONE LINE.

That’s the kind of reveal that works best, because it seemingly just slipped out as you were talking. And that’s the key: It has to sound accidental or incidental – NATURAL to share, not just you bringing up a subject so you can sound off on it.

When something revealing just plops out in the course of the conversation, that’s when people actually NOTICE what was just said.

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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 #232 – The Main Ingredient

In August of 1972, a group named The Main Ingredient released a hit single called “Everybody Plays the Fool”. (The lead singer, by the way, was Cuba Gooding, Sr. – yes, the actor’s father.)

None of that has anything to do with this week’s tip.

Last time, we talked about really starting to gain understanding and control of your inflection, so you lose the “disc jockey” sound and simply become the one voice in the room people just want to listen to.

Here’s another step.

What all great air talents and great voice actors have in common is that they’re INTERESTING.

If you’re still early in your career and aren’t being offered the opportunities you want, it’s not going to get better if you just work on your voice. You have to make yourself the best CANDIDATE for the job. In radio, or in the voice acting arena, the most successful and longest-running careers inevitably go to the voices that we find the most intriguing. The ear finds them like it finds a catchy tune. And just like in the musical world, there’s no one sound that’s the standard.

Instead of working on vocal gyrations, work on being INTERESTING. That’s how careers are made.

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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 #226 – What Listeners Value Most

Listeners, even if they’re not consciously thinking about it, value their TIME over anything else.

That’s the challenge, and why you really need to work at getting better, smoother, subtler, more animated when necessary, a great voice actor, a friend – the one they look FORWARD to being with.

Ask yourself whether there are “dead spots” in your show, or breaks where you kind of put it on autopilot. If you’re wasting the listener’s time on any sort of consistent basis, he or she is going to stop giving it to you.

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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 #224 – The Personality Challenge

Get a load of this…my friend Jerry Reynolds, who does “The Car Pro Show” in over 40 markets now, told me that he listens to WBAP in Dallas every morning. When he gets to work, he turns on their app, and listens to the show on his phone as he walks into the building. Once in his office, he plugs his phone into his computer (so the battery won’t run down too much), and continues to listen through his speakers until the show is over.

Now all the statistical evidence today would tell you that this is very untypical….

But I’ll bet it’s not. I’ll bet it never was. People find their favorite personalities and they become friends; companions in their lives. With whatever available time they have, they listen. It’s just that simple.

A brief aside: the guy Jerry was talking about is Hal Jay. He’s one of the most gifted air talents I’ve ever heard, and he’s been that way for decades. The station went from Country to NEWS-TALK, and still kept the same morning show – and never missed a beat! Hats off to you, Hal.

I can’t remember exactly when stations first decided that you didn’t need to keep pumping out personality past 9 AM, because “Everybody’s in the office; it’s wasted energy.”
But it wasn’t long before it became “Let’s go ahead and put it on autopilot at 8 AM, because everybody goes into work earlier now.”

This is the wrong way to think. Not only does this make for boring, plastic radio; it’s also cheating on your talent, and on your ability to keep getting better by firing a few more ‘Content bullets’.

I came up in the era when the midday guy (or girl) was great – entertaining, having fun, and not just checking their email while three more songs segued, then a blithering, overproduced “Imaging” piece snarled something out over a bunch of Star Wars sound effects.

If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse – because someone who read this is getting better while you sit on your duff.

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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.