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.

Tommy Kramer Tip #163 – Fun Grows out of Relevance

The future of radio – no matter how it’s delivered – is going to be about Personalities. Air Talent that seems like your best, most entertaining friend; that person that always finds just the right word to describe something that we’re both going through or thinking about.

But radio isn’t the Chuckle Shack. We’re not standup comedians, and shouldn’t really want to seem like that, anyway. You just want to be that one person that always gets invited to the party because you’ll be interesting and amusing, and make the person who’s hosting the party look good for inviting you.

Here’s the way it works:

Job One is to only talk about things that are relevant and top-of-mind to the listener. Once you’re zeroed in on “narrow focusing” your Content to that degree, Fun grows out of that.

But there’s a difference between being perceived as fun versus seeming like someone “trying to be funny”.
I think that the very core of “trying to be funny” is when you take something that ISN’T relevant and attempt to make it entertaining.

You have to CHOOSE. One way leads to tremendous, never-ending growth. The other leads to actually having to WORK for a living. Ewww.

Work joyfully on getting better. If you hit a wall, get a coach.

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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 #137 – The Hammer and Chisel

To do great radio, you have to Entertain. In its simplest form, this just means that what you say has to stand out.

Here’s the “secret formula”—two ingredients: (1) camera angles, and (2) vocabulary.

Those two things are the hammer and the chisel. They carve out of life specific shapes and descriptions that weren’t there before.

It starts with a camera angle that isn’t obvious; something that’s slightly askew or unique to you. The vocabulary brings it to full bloom. Here are ten great examples from some of the greatest comic minds in history:

George Carlin: “One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.”

Jonathan Winters: “If God had really intended man to fly, He’d have made it easier to get to the airport.”

Rodney Dangerfield: “I told my dentist ‘My teeth are going yellow.’ He told me to wear a brown tie.”

Robin Williams: “If it’s the Psychic Network, why do they need a phone number?”

Woody Allen: “Some guy hit my fender. I told him to ‘Be fruitful, and multiply’…but not in those words.”

Steve Martin: “Don’t have sex, man. It leads to kissing, and pretty soon you have to start talking to them.”

Jerry Seinfeld: “That’s the true spirit of Christmas—people being helped by people other than me.”

Louis C. K.: “I don’t stop eating when I’m full. The meal isn’t over when I’m full. It’s over when I hate myself.”

Chris Rock: “Black people dominate sports in the United States. 20 percent of the population; 90 percent of the Final Four.”

Steven Wright: “I have a paper cut from writing my suicide note. It’s a start.”

Some people think these skills can’t be taught. That, of course, isn’t true. There IS a way to cultivate these skills. Call me, and we’ll start.

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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.