Tommy Kramer Tip #201 – What TV can learn from Radio, and vice-versa

You would think that TV and Radio are like brothers or cousins, each putting out their product with an all-encompassing view of what the experience is like from the viewer’s or listener’s perspective.

And you would be wrong.

In reality, TV doesn’t care enough (if at all) about SOUND. In my experience of coaching many television air talents, it’s pretty much all about what it LOOKS like. The end result is usually a bunch of talking heads reading words from teleprompters that real people would never say in an actual conversation. (“The alleged suspect was apprehended” instead of “they caught the guy.”) But the time they could use to rewrite it gets spent on their hair and makeup.

Radio, for the most part, doesn’t care enough about the PICTURES it’s creating. Sure, the best talents are all about “word pictures”, but way too often nowadays, in the era of voice-trackers that don’t even live in the market the station is in, they just put a “smile” in their delivery and read things. Ick.

If TV personalities thought more about the WORDS they’re saying, they’d be more three-dimensional. And if radio personalities thought more about creating a PICTURE in the listener’s mind instead of just giving information, they’d draw that listener closer every single day.

Just because you’re ON doesn’t mean that people are actually paying attention to you. You EARN that. Or not. Your choice.

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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 #199 – Too “up” isn’t Real

I’ve been working with a morning show recently that only has one “gear”. The male partner is “Ron Radio”, talking to the listener like she’s 20 feet away (when, in reality, the listener is just a couple of feet away, in the car). The female partner, who’s new to radio, has what I guess a lot of people would call a “bubbly” personality. And, of course, she’s unnaturally loud, too – following his lead.

The problem here is that their too loud, “way too up” approach doesn’t quite sound real. And if you’re ALWAYS “up”, then when something really bad happens that you need to comment on – another school or mall shooting, or God forbid, another plane flies into a building – chances are good that it’s going to sound either sort of bi-polar, or insincere.

I cringe when I hear a PD tell a talent to “have more energy” or to “smile” when they talk. This inevitably results in an almost “terminally giddy” sound, and you’ve got nowhere to GO from there.

You need lots of vocal and emotional “gears” so you can make smooth, believable transitions between different types of subject matter. The minute I hear someone who’s too loud or too “up”, we start working IMMEDIATELY on fleshing out vocal approaches that convey all sorts of different emotions. We already have too many “announcers”, and at least one too many Kathy Lee Gifford.

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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 #198 – What Team Shows can Learn from Curb Your Enthusiasm

This tip is team show-centric, but it actually applies to everyone on the air.

What Team Shows can Learn from Curb Your Enthusiasm:

In every great show, there’s a thin wire to walk between being spontaneous, but still being aware of how it “plays” to the ear. Larry David’s HBO comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is a great example of how ensemble shows should work.

Everyone in that cast knows what the circumstance (the scene) is, but it’s not scripted. They may not even have a concrete idea of exactly how the scene will end, but what made that show so successful, to me, is that they’re sensitive to those “don’t try to do more” moments. That’s how you get that perfect form of being Consistent, but NOT being Predictable.

“Curb” is something every team show could study, learn from, and get better as a result. You might want to re-watch a few episodes.

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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 #195: Laughter, the Best – or Worst – Medicine

There used to be a thing in Reader’s Digest called “Laughter, the Best Medicine.”

But often, at least to someone my age (I was a kid then), it was lame.

Think about this, as it applies to radio.

Genuine, “can’t help it” laughter IS great “medicine”.
But laughter that comes across as some sort of “default setting” reflex, or that icky “trying to MAKE me think it’s funny” laughter is POISON.

People can tell when it’s real. Go ahead and argue if you want, but it’s true.
I tell people to try NOT to laugh, so when you do, it’ll be genuine “snot bubble” laughter.

George Carlin once said the goal in school was to make the guy next to him at the lunch table laugh so hard that he snorted an entire cheese sandwich up his nose.

Listen to some audio of your show and ask yourself this: “Did the laughter sound real?”
(Hint: If you really need to ask that, it didn’t.)

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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 #194 – THE Role Model for Team Shows

Often in coaching, I find that the best examples may lie outside the radio arena. A lot of the techniques and strategies I teach come from movies, music, and Sports.

At one station I work with, finding the right partner in a team show has been an ongoing issue. Having worked with literally hundreds of team shows, I was brought into the discussion of “what to look for.”

My example had nothing to do with radio: John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Here’s why…

Lennon was primarily known for aggressive, edgy songs like “Revolution”, “Day Tripper”, “I Am the Walrus”, “Help!”, “A Hard Day’s Night”, etc.

McCartney was mostly known for pretty songs, like “Yesterday”, “And I Love Her”, “Let It Be”, “The Long and Winding Road”, “Hey Jude”, etc.

But Lennon also wrote beautiful songs: “In My Life”, “Girl”, “If I Fell”, and “All You Need is Love”. And McCartney wrote some really powerful, straightforward rockers, like “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Helter Skelter”, “Back in the USSR”, and “Drive My Car”.

And THAT’S what you want in a team show: people who may be defined by ONE thing each of them does, but they CAN do other things. Picture the Olympic rings – slightly overlapping circles with a common area they share, and a larger area that’s unique to each.

Two people who are nothing alike can result in a tug-of-war on the air. Two people who at least have SOMETHING in common, but come to that only once in a while to join forces – well, there’s that “extra dimension” that you should be looking for.

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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 #193 – Just the 3 of Us

This is a team show tip, and there’s a special bonus prize included.

Okay, let’s say that you’re in a 2-person team show. Here’s how the listener sees it: It’s just the three of us, over lunch together (or over breakfast, if you prefer), and once in a while, a caller joins us.
Just like in real life, the third person at the table (me, the listener) may not be saying anything, but I’m still here.

Now here’s the Easter egg – a hidden secret from my vault:

You can have an exchange between the two of you with me at the table – but you can’t ever IGNORE that I’m at the table.

Read that last point again. The minute it feels like you’re JUST talking to each other, I might as well leave.

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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.