Tommy Kramer Tip #235 – Never End with the Left Brain

A very good talent I work with did a contest the other day, and had a great winner, who was really surprised and happy about winning lunch for her office from a local deli. He did a good job with her in the winner call he played on the air, but at the end, he added a whole bunch of “blah blah blah” about the specific hoops the winner had to jump through to get her prize, and along the way, he mentioned the name of a person in the office that no listener would know or care about.

This is what I sent him in his coaching session recap:

Here’s how it should have unfolded: Right after you told her she had won lunch, compliments of Jackson Street Deli and she said, “I can do that,” you said “Sweet.”
GO!! Right there! No person listening needs to hear the inner mechanics of how you get the prize.

Anytime you end with a “left brain” thought, you suck the wind out of that moment of winning. You can do the other stuff off the air.

By the way, I’d also wait to do the “next time we’ll play” plug until the NEXT break, not glomp it onto the end of the winner call. CELEBRATE THE WIN, then GO.

This “never end with the ‘left brain’” thing applies to everything you do. When you revert to data, numbers, times, etc. at the end, you’re just a buzz kill.

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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 #221 – Another Seinfeld Content Tip

Cruising around You Tube yesterday, I saw an interview with Jerry Seinfeld by Norm MacDonald.

Norm brought up a hypothetical scene: Two people go to a bowling alley and….what happens next?

If you’ve seen Seinfeld much at all, you know about his ‘internal radar’ as to what makes something funny – or not. So he interrupted MacDonald at that point and said “Why are they in the bowling alley?”
He went on to dismiss the “future plot development” idea that (and I’m paraphrasing here) “if you’re doing the scene because that’s where he meets this person who becomes a significant figure in his life, that’s not gonna work.” The answer to ‘why are they there?’ has to be funny IN ITSELF, not just as a tool for some future plot development.

This is a really important thing that goes directly to Purpose, and not just leading the listener down some garden path.

Coincidentally, I had a session yesterday with a female talent who brought up the factoid that “we all spend ten minutes a day looking for stuff that we’ve misplaced,” and then went on to tell a story about her husband being so used to her losing her phone that he instantly replied “Babe, it’s right here” when she mentioned that she didn’t know where she had left it.

But see, that doesn’t answer the fundamental question that Seinfeld alludes to – why are we there, in that scenario? WHY are you talking about it?
For radio purposes, something has to be entertaining in itself, right off the bat, in order to further the show in a non-random way and to make your Content relevant.

This is why just launching into a story about yourself isn’t necessarily a slam-dunk when it comes to scoring score points with the listener. If you’re working hard at trying to be “transparent” and to “tell stories” (things we hear all the time, but usually get no instructions as to exactly HOW to do that), remember that if the only reason you bring something up is to “fill the page” with something, or to talk about yourself, that’s not enough. Dig deeper. There’s another FOUNDATIONAL level – the one that guided Seinfeld’s career – that needs to be considered.

If this seems too nebulous, too obvious, or too introspective…well, sorry. But radio is in a dangerous place right now where “items” and “stories” that don’t resonate with the listener have replaced actual sharing and bonding. You can’t just do “bits”. I can get those off You Tube.

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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 #217 — More Words, Less Impact

We all now that one windbag who’s always at the party, telling stories that never seem to end.

And we all avoid getting sucked into a conversation with that person.

The reason is simple, but more important today than ever in the Twitter, L8R for “later”, emoji world.

Time is a person’s most precious commodity. We’re all too busy; we have things to do, and anything that impedes that is resented. The more words you use, the less effective the message is.

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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 #197 – Quips, Comments, and Stories

The primary ingredients of any really good talent in a music format are Quips, Comments, and Stories. A little more about each…

A quip: My morning show partner years ago in Dallas, Rick “the Beamer” Robertson once came out of “Billie Jean” with “Well, what can you say about Michael Jackson…that hasn’t been operated on.” (I don’t even know that this made sense, but it was just plain funny.)

A comment: a remark about something that may or may not be funny, but it is YOURS. Comments can’t be in every single thing that you do, but there should be a healthy dose of them in each show. Friendships are formed through the exchange of opinions. If you don’t HAVE any, we can’t be friends.

A story: I think of stories as “little plays” about “adventures” we have. Note: Please avoid the “Christmas newsletter” mentality. Make sure that the listener CARES about the subject, or you’re just a car going as fast as it can toward an oak tree.

These three things, along with the more “plain vanilla” Content – promoting things, sponsor liners, whatever – are pretty much all you’re going to do, and they should be balanced. And remember, there’s an art to making “plain vanilla” stuff stand out and be different from the last time you talked about it.

If you know what arrows you have in your quiver, you won’t waste your time trying to use something else.

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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 #196 – A Deeper Dive into Camera Angles

One of the two of three most game-changing tips I’ve coached over the years is “camera angles”. It grew out of film classes in college, and a lifelong love of great movies, directors, and actors. In short, it’s about the perspectives you gain – like the Director of a movie decides – from a different point of view.

But, as with everything that’s artistic at its core, there are layers and colors inside that technique.

So here’s another way to look at it that may help you: It’s not just where you put the camera. It’s about what you SEE when you put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s Emotional, rather than just technical.

It’s not a fact-finding mission. It’s a way to see inside something from a perspective that can tell a different story.

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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 #188 – No “Hallmark Card” Content, please

Even very bright talents will slip up once in a while and do “pap for the masses”, thinking that it works.

This is what I heard one jock say recently:
“I love this…‘good moms let their kids lick the beaters; great moms remember to turn off the mixer first.’ Yeah, I’ve been there.”

Really? This sounds like a Hallmark Card for Mother’s Day, or something Ann Landers or Erma Bombeck might have written—in 1981. And no, you haven’t “been there,” or we’d have noticed the Child Protective Services van outside that house. (Because, apparently at some point, that mixer was left ON.)

Let’s be clear: I’m certainly not against doing things that are heartwarming or encouraging. That’s fine, but NOT if it sounds insipid or obsequious.

If you don’t know what those words mean, just ask Siri. Because, contrary to what that air talent thought, it’s not 1981 anymore.

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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 #183 – Recycling Material

I get asked a lot about whether or not to recycle something within a show. Almost everybody seems to think it’s okay, but it’s really not. Here’s why:

Because you’ll never do something as well a second time. Or you’ll do it well the second time after having done it poorly the first time. Unless you’re one of the greatest voice actors in the world, you’ve only got one really good performance in you. Live with it. You may not want to hear this, but artistically, you want to burn material like jet fuel, and keep coming up with more things to do – every show. Recycling the same bit a couple of hours later actually clogs up the creative process.

Note: You CAN recycle a Subject. But come up with a new “camera angle” the second time, so it’s not just you on autopilot.

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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 #181 – Catch and Release

The whole concept of subtlety seems to have died out in the back yard, because no one heard it scratching against the door.

Go to “Catch and Release”, like in fishing. You catch a Moment, then you let it go. Trying to reach a second Moment is too far a “reach” for most air talents. We’re not standup comedians, who work tirelessly on “constructs” where each step leads to another one. Louis C. K. talks often about George Carlin’s process of writing for a special, then tossing that material out, which shocked Louis. He felt like “I’ve worked for 14 years to get this one hour of good stuff. How do you just throw that away?!”

Over time (and mustering up all his courage), he learned that you have to clear the slate to open up the mental space to create more.

Radio’s not really the medium for that “Construct” formula anyway. Quick hits, then movement, define great radio.

I hear so many shows that sound like the people in the studio are having a good time, but like kids at recess, they don’t want to come back into the classroom and settle down.

Catch, then Release. Stop hanging onto a falling satellite. Your listeners will really appreciate it.

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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 #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 #173 – Happy Generic Fluff

It’s so different on the other end of the radio.

Recently, a morning show I just starting working with did a break on “Words to not use with kids.” Obviously, it was some article they plucked off the internet, and it sounded like it. They thought it was “interesting”, but to me it was just the easiest road to take, pumping something into the show that was actually just “filler” stuff to take up space between the banner ads on some website.

What I told them:
This isn’t a break that we “make better”. It’s a break that we don’t do.

“Happy generic fluff” is NOT meaningful Content, especially when it just sounds like a self-help or “motivational” book. Be better than that. You’re here to share your thoughts and feelings on things that matter most to the listener TODAY. Not “The 16 Most Important Foods to Avoid” which is usually subtitled something like “Number 9 will amaze you!” (It never does. And I’m going to keep eating hot sauce until it flows out of my ears, no matter what it does to my stomach lining.)

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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.