Tommy Kramer Tip #254 – Think With Your Heart

A lot of shows struggle with getting any really viable phone call feedback from listeners. They tap into a subject, maybe offer an opinion, do a solicitation for feedback, give the phone number, then…nothing. Waves of silence. No phone lines lighting up. Or if there is a call, it’s pretty much the same type of call they got last time (often from the same tiny pool of callers) with pretty much the same type of comment they always get. The safe, predictable, no-new-ground-broken feedback loop.

Here’s one way you might be able to change that: think with your heart. Analytical subjects with “left brain” solicitations tend to lie there, flat as a pancake.

But when an EMOTION is at the center of the subject – and especially when you express an emotion instead of just an analytical opinion – people react differently. (Both callers and people who don’t call, but actually start listening more closely.)

This is based on an acting tip. When you focus on the Emotion that the scene is trying to convey, a blown line doesn’t hurt the flow. When you’re married to the words, a blown line causes an awkward pause that the audience can feel.

This is why I often ask “What emotion is this break about?” Because without emotion, there’s very little chance of connection. And CONNECTING with the listener IS the job.

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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 #251 – Talking to Your Best Friend

Something happens when the mic goes on. Most people assume a delivery that’s either “giving information” or “making an announcement” or “presenting” something to the listener.

…as if the listener is some distant stranger who has this break arrive like an unwanted, slick, glossy ad for life insurance – for your pet goldfish.

But the great talents all know that no matter how important or significant a thought is, you still want to say it like you’d say it to your best friend, over a cup of coffee, like he or she is just 2 or 3 feet away (not 15).

By trying to sound more “important”, you become less important. By simply sharing a thought in a normal tone of voice (and normal volume level), you imply that “Hey, we’re buddies. Let me tell you something.”

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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 #247 – The Pause

Recently, I had a session with a very good talent who struggles occasionally at the very beginning of a break. I played her a couple of breaks where the hemming and hawing was noticeable; she just couldn’t get any real traction in getting started.

Here’s a possible cause — the tendency to think that every second has to be filled with words. Nothing could be farther from the truth. JFK, Martin Luther King, and dozens of actors known for their timing realized that sometimes a pause to “gather” your next thought is THE most powerful moment.

Example:
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” is not the same as “Ask not….what your country can do for you. (Another pause) Ask what you can do for your country.”

When the anxiety is taken away, and you come to trust that conversations need pauses, the tendency to just add more words, or over-explain, will dissipate.

– – – – – – –
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 #245 – What You Can Do in Six Seconds

The other day, I was having to teach someone how to talk over a song intro. This is a modern phenomenon, apparently, because most people on the radio today never heard the Drake Format or the “Q” Format that revolutionized radio in the late sixties and early seventies.

Before those, jocks just talked whenever and wherever they wanted to, so you heard a song end, the jock blather for a few seconds (or longer), and then start another song, talking up to the vocal.

Bill Drake changed that. Jocks fit the song intro, instead of starting early. Momentum increased exponentially.
The Q stations (KCBQ in San Diego first, others later) took it another step further. But jocks tended to lose contact with the pace of the song, doing every break in a high-powered delivery.
Stations like KNUS in Dallas, Y95 in Miami and others took it beyond that, maintaining the momentum, but also introducing a sensitivity to the pace and “vibe” of the song and matching it with the delivery.

Enough with the history lesson. Jocks today grew up hearing a song end, the talent talking for much too long, then another song starting. Momentum ceased to exist under the guise of “respecting the music,” primarily an Album Rock approach. Stop – Start – Stop – Start. The definition of NO true momentum.

So back to the recent session. I told the man/woman team “start the next song, THEN talk” every other song or every third song, with Imaging pieces (fully produced, no “dry voice” at the end that stopped the momentum in its tracks) between the other songs within a music ‘sweep’.

The female partner said, “What if the song only has about a six-second intro? What can we do except just give the name of the station and introduce the song?”

Here’s what you can do:
You can sound ENGAGED with the music, like YOU’RE listening to it, too. You can give an opinion about the song or the artist.
You can promote something coming up. You can avoid sounding like a robot, trying to get this over with as soon as possible.
And you can learn the value of words, how to edit yourself, and that you can reveal an Emotion instead of just giving information.

Then you might not sound like just “a voice saying words”. And you’ll have flexibility, instead of just trying to jam something in. And most importantly, you’ll sound like you’re sharing the experience, in the moment, WITH me (the listener). You know, like friends.

– – – – – – –
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 #233 – What Did I Learn About You Today, and Why Does it Matter?

Here’s part of a post-Halloween coaching session recap with a morning team I work with in Austin, Texas…

Steve and Amy,

Well, look at what we learned about you in Tuesday’s show…

You’re aware of what’s going on, and you have hearts (coverage of the New York City tragedy).

Amy has managed to rationalize not wanting to go out in the cold to ‘Trick or Treat’ with her kids as THEIR decision. (And Steve called her on it.)

Steve’s son considers “Mr. Blue” – a character that is apparently only about wearing blue clothing – to an acceptable Trick or Treat costume. (But he ended up wearing a Coke bottle costume instead. Not really sure if that’s better.)

Yes, Houston’s being in the World Series is great for the morale of the city, etc. — but to Amy, it’s all about a stolen base meaning she gets a free taco.

This is what engaging shows are made of.

Every person on the air should ask himself/herself two questions:

What did the listener learn about me today?
And why does it matter?

If you just did a show where I didn’t learn anything about you, it was a wasted opportunity. And it matters because if I don’t learn about you, we’re not friends. It’s about the common ground between you and me. If we don’t have any, there’s no real point in listening to you.

I can put every song you play into my iPhone. I have the Weather Channel app. News is everywhere, at the push of a button. And my car has built-in navigation with turn-by-turn instructions.
Yes, the music, News, Weather, and Traffic are part of a good station. But that isn’t enough. However, YOU…ARE…enough – if you REVEAL. The broadcast world is full of nameless, personality-less voices. No one remembers who they are.

– – – – – – –
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 #228 – Lessons from Leta

On Friday, October 13th 2017, Leta Hopwood passed away, two months to the day after her 92nd birthday.

Hopwood was her maiden name. She was my mother.
She taught me to read when I was three years old. (By the time I entered 1st grade, I was reading at 7th grade level.)

She taught me to sing harmony when I was nine, as we drove from Shreveport, Louisiana to Colorado Springs after my dad was drafted into the Army. (I later sang in a very popular band, and have sung on dozens of jingles that you might have heard.)

She worked as a legal secretary when I was young, probably only making $400-$500 per month during that era, but still managed to save back $10 a week for me to take guitar lessons. (I’ve played guitar on quite a few records, and dozens of jingles.)

And she taught me about Jesus, and how even if you’re perfect, there will be someone who doesn’t particularly like you or agree with your opinions. And she taught me how to get over being hurt by that, and to forgive them, regardless of how they felt.

But most importantly, she taught me that your personal feelings are more powerful than your opinions, and that no matter what you think, your feelings are almost always evident – and they should be.

When you go on the air today, if all you do is quote somebody else’s thoughts, read liners, or be “nice” and “easy to listen to”, you’re not living up to what Leta would think was your full potential.

But more importantly, you’re not really giving of yourself, and you’re not really making any personal impact on the listener.

Leta had an impact on everyone she ever met. And if you ever work with me, her teachings will impact your life, too.

And I believe she’d be pleased with that as part of her legacy.

– – – – – – –
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 #222 – Stage versus Film, and which one you should emulate

A subject came up in a session recently that I’ve written about before, but want to pursue a little further in an effort to help you find your vocal “pocket”.

A very talented jock I’ve worked with for a few months told a good story on the air about how after you marry, you find out what things you and your spouse see differently. In this case, his wife had ordered takeout food, and to his surprise, there was an extra pork shop that he didn’t expect. So he put it in the refrigerator to have for lunch the next day.

However, his wife can’t stand having leftovers in the fridge, so she threw it out!
Seeing this, he became indignant, fished it out of the top layer of the trashcan (yes, like George Costanza in that “Seinfeld” episode with the chocolate éclair), and then he put it back in the fridge.

Here’s where it went sideways, when he overacted the finish, declaring “OF COURSE I’m gonna eat it,” then following that up with a way over-the-top “Now, in order to WIN this argument, I actually have to EAT a pork chop that was THROWN AWAY!”

Too emphatic, too loud, and he lost the reality of the story as a result. Here’s what I told him…

I thought the story was something that everyone can identify with, but the ending was LOUD and a little overly strident. You want to watch overacting, and simply ‘give yourself’ to the words like a film actor, as opposed to a stage actor. Stage actors are concerned with the people in the last row being able to hear the lines, and their movements and gestures are usually a little exaggerated. But film actors — who often have a camera literally just a foot or two away, and have the audience much closer to them because of the big screen they’re on — play it “not so large”, letting inflection and a more real and more nuanced vocal approach pull the audience in.

This is absolutely essential to becoming a truly great talent.

– – – – – – –
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 #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.

– – – – – – –
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.

– – – – – – –
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.

– – – – – – –
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.