Tommy Kramer Tip #219: The Listener is NOT Stupid

It’s my mission to make you the most interesting and entertaining person your listener ever hears. I want you to have a job you love to go into each day, for you to have a successful career, and for you to have a happy life as a result.

But once in a while, as part of the process, I have to deal with things that may not be all rainbows and pixie dust, in an effort to get you to be the best version of yourself on the air. Here’s one of the potholes…

A lot of radio people apparently think the Listener is stupid. Some examples:

“Remember, that’s Saturday, August 19th” – after you JUST SAID THAT a few seconds ago. Beating it into the listener’s head with a mallet isn’t really a good plan.

“Get a bumper sticker for your car.” (As opposed to what? A bumper sticker for my microwave?)

“7:12, twelve minutes after seven.” (GAD. I thought we’d put this chestnut to rest a LONG time ago. But…apparently not.)

“It’s Wednesday…” (Thanks. I’ve been in a coma, and was hoping someone would tell me what day it is.) “Happy Tuesday” (something I heard on the air just yesterday) is the same kind of thing – ridiculous, because no one ever says that in real life.

I spend countless hours coaching people in how to avoid being redundant and repetitive on the air – because as long as we treat listeners like they’re stupid, we make OURSELVES sound stupid.

In actual, everyday conversations, telling a person something more than once or saying the obvious is just boring. (Or even worse, it can sound like nagging.)

When you say words that don’t matter, YOU don’t matter. So it’s important to train yourself to say something once – really well – then move on.
About the only exception I can think of would be giving the phone number a couple of times for a contest or soliciting calls about a subject, because people may not get it the first time.

But here’s one thing you should definitely remember: EVERY listener is smart enough to push a button and find something else to listen to.

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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 #215 — Why You Should Never Say “Maybe”

“Maybe” is a word I don’t like to hear, because by definition, it’s ‘conditional’ in nature.

“Maybe you’ve done this…” also carries the flip side (in the listener’s head) of “No, I haven’t.” Click. Disengage.

“IF” is the magic word. It activates the imagination, and doesn’t leave room for the doubting side of the coin.

Example:
“Maybe you’re seven feet tall…” only talks to people who ARE that height.

But “If you were seven feet tall…” opens up the mental possibility – and the ‘buy-in’ factor, as a result.

There’s also the inclusive: “We’ve all done this…” or “We’ve all seen this…” (But it has to be true. It can’t be “We’ve all skinned a buffalo with a butter knife…”)

Anyway, now you’ve got a couple of new arrows in your quiver to help make you sound more CERTAIN – and dynamic – on the air in a very subtle way.

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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 #212 – How it Starts

Probably the most difficult thing for air talent to latch onto is how something starts. Many breaks are dead in the water before the second sentence is uttered.

I teach several core techniques to master really compelling beginnings. Here are 3 of them:

1. Don’t talk about yourself the first thing out of your mouth. Constantly leaning on “I – me – my” beginnings sounds self-absorbed, to say the least.

2. Don’t ask a Question – especially a rhetorical question. As George Carlin said, “Why do people ask rhetorical questions? And do they expect an answer?” The answer to any question, if you could hear it, is almost always “No.” Questions sound weak and disingenuous. Make Statements to make Impact.

3. Don’t be too abrupt. Way too often, I hear someone just launch into a subject for apparently no reason, just plopping it down like somebody walking up to your desk and dropping a squid on it. While that first thing you say CAN be thought of as a “headline” (which is what a lot of people are taught), remember that it should be a “spoken word” headline, not a “print” headline. We want it to be concise, but it also has to sound like something you’d actually say to a friend, not a quote from an article or book.

Like peeling away the layers of an onion, there are many more techniques to learn, but with just those 3 goals in mind, you can separate yourself from all the babbling across the rest of the media choices.

It’s always about ENGAGING 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
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #205 – Make Your Other Audio Sources Worth My Time

We hear about them hundreds of times a month:
Online streaming.
Radio station smartphone apps.
Podcasts.

Let’s take a look at these, one at a time…

Have you ever LISTENED to your online streaming? Often, it’s just awful. And often, it’s okay quality, but crashes and goes to dead air after a few minutes. And you can’t expect one of the multi-station streaming sites to care about your audio like you do…or like you should.

Make sure your phone app works. TEST it. You’d be surprised at how many don’t work well at all. An app that fails, then requires a reset, gets ONE more try – maybe. Then I never try it again; you had your chance.

Podcasts: Check your audio. “It’s only a podcast” doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t deliver a truly quality product. People EXPECT it.

Before you plug your online streaming, your phone app, or your podcast again on the air, make sure that it works effortlessly and consistently. If I go to it and it’s subpar, your credibility in even PROMOTING it is gone.

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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 #200 – The “Too Up” follow-up

In the last tip, I talked about a couple of challenges in being TOO “up” all the time on the air. (Being told to “have more energy” is usually the cause of this.)

Just fyi, the “example” in the tip wasn’t really any specific morning team; it was drawn from several different teams I’ve coached. (But it’s always interesting to see which of the people I work with will THINK that a tip was written about them.)

Here’s the follow-up. In just one or two sessions, this “shot from a cannon, everything at one constant energy level” thing almost always changes.

The biggest factor in trying to help anyone improve is the natural resistance to change. But there’s nothing to fear if the motive behind it is simply to help you sound more three-dimensional and natural on the air. The era of “presenting” and “announcing” is GONE. The world is too full of shouting, noisy hype to believe anything done with that approach anymore.

In every way you can think of, make things more HUMAN. Being a constant piston-engine, frantically energetic noise doesn’t REVEAL anything about you. And let’s be clear: the listener has to LIKE you, or he/she won’t listen. There are too many other places to turn for information and entertainment to think that your station is going to succeed without being Personality-driven.

Radio will need to up our game to be valid as technology continues to change the landscape in terms of what the listener’s options are. But we’re still first in line for the listener’s time – IF we have Personality.

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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 #177 – Being Local Does NOT Always Win

There’s this myth going around these days when a station faces a syndicated show as a competitor. A lot of stations think, “Well, they’re not local, so they can’t beat us.”

WRONG.

Being Local does NOT always win. You have to be the best CHOICE. Just because you know street names and buildings doesn’t mean that you’re the most compelling, the most fun, or the most desirable companion in my car, or my office, or at home when I want the radio to keep me company.

I’ve coached many syndicated shows over the years in several different formats, and frankly, we’ve made a habit of blowing right past people who think that because they can “get out and shake hands” with listeners, they’re not in any trouble. But of course, the TINY percentage of your listeners that you’ll meet – or will EVER come to a station event – makes this idea totally outdated.

Whoever’s the most intriguing, the most entertaining, or just the most likable will win. Heritage, especially to Millennials, doesn’t mean much (if anything). It’s all about who’s the most relevant to THEIR lives.

And surprisingly, what we’ve seen for years now is that this is true for almost ALL age groups. In the internet/twitter/snapchat/instant information age, AUTHENTICITY is the only thing that plays well to everyone. The air talents who have that (regardless of their own age) always do well.

Drop “be local” as your focus and substitute “be GREAT AND local” and you’ll be on the right track.

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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 #174 – Establish the Touchstone EARLY

“I never knew that a lawn mower could make a guy so happy.” That was the opening line of a break I heard the other day.

My reaction was instantaneous – but not the one this talent would have wanted: So? Who cares?

Content has to be facilitated by establishing some sort of relevance to the listener EARLY – as early as possible.

This particular break was completely self-absorbed. A guy talking about how his riding lawn mower had broken, so he had to cut his huge lawn with the old-fashioned “push it to the end of the earth” mower. I suppose he considered it to be “sharing”, but it missed the mark on several levels:

1. It wasn’t top of mind.
2. It wasn’t particularly interesting.
3. It didn’t lead to any conclusion that informed or surprised me. It was just all about him.

Unless you can connect it to MY life (as a listener), I don’t care. And if I don’t care, I’m likely to just hit a button and go to a different station. Or, for that matter, I could just turn the radio off entirely.

It’s easy. “We’re all kind of like real estate agents. As we drive through the neighborhood we survey it – see which neighbor’s house needs some paint, or who hasn’t mowed his lawn in a month…”

Now you’ve gotten my attention, because I certainly CAN identify with that. (I had a neighbor whose stoned-out teenage son would leave their stinky trash cans out in the driveway for DAYS at a time, wafting their noxious fumes through the air. Not exactly the scent you want to inhale while you’re grilling some burgers. Unless you’re making them out of feet.)

Establish the “touchstone” EARLY. The quicker, the better. Really think about that first line out of your mouth that kicks off Content. You only have a few seconds to engage the listener…or not.

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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.

Tommy Kramer Tip #171 – Learn from Mike Nichols, Part 2

Legendary film and theater director, actor, producer, and comedian Mike Nichols did an interview just before he passed away, sharing many of his unique perspectives on what makes people watch and listen to you.

One of them was this thought: There are only 3 scenes: Negotiations, Seductions, and Fights.

For radio purposes, Negotiations – with the listener or with a partner – work if they’re well done. Events, Contests, etc. need to be worth the listener’s time; that’s what we’re negotiating for.

Our “Seductions” aren’t about sexiness. Our “seduction” is about attracting the listener to you and making him or her want to come back again, or for more time, or more frequently.

And our Fights are really just situational banter. Unlike a play or movie, we may only have the audience for a few minutes. So while emotions play a huge part in pulling the listener one step closer, remember that we have to be “friends at the end”. Nobody goes to a party to see a guy fight with his wife.

If you want to learn more about this, well…just click or call.

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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.