Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #424: Two Questions to Ask Yourself

I don’t like asking questions, but here are two that you should ask yourself, whether you’re an air talent, Programmer, or GM:

1. What do you have that I can’t get everywhere else?
In the current era of “cookie cutter” formats, this is crucial. If all you are is a corporate playlist and people reading liners and crap from the internet, the answer to that question is “nothing.”

2. What do you have that I can’t get ANYWHERE else?
And remember, it has to be relevant. Just being “different” isn’t enough.

The answers to these two questions will decide your future. There are too many entertainment alternatives available today for you to expect people to waste their time listening to boring radio. Do SOMETHING…rather than do nothing.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2021 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #423: What Makes You Matter

So in a nutshell, here’s the biggest thing about Content:

You will not matter to anyone unless you talk about something that matters to that person.

I know – this sounds so simple, so the question is, “Why do so many stations fill the air with things that don’t matter to the listener?”

My theory is that they just don’t know yet what the whole purpose of radio is. Or they’re ego-driven, which is the wrong road. Let’s be clear – nobody cares about what you want, or what the board of directors’ goals are. They care only about what you do that entertains them, or informs them about something they might need to know, but maybe they haven’t heard yet.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2021 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip $422: Inside Out, Outside In

There are basically two styles – Inside out, or Outside in.

“Inside out” shows are first fueled by the people in the Control Room thinking “What interests us will interest the Listener.” Maybe, but these shows are often asleep at the wheel in terms of welcoming in new listeners.

“Outside in” shows are a bit more interactive in terms of listener participation (getting more phone calls, social media response, etc.), but you’d better make sure that you engage people emotionally. As a listener, a “topic” that doesn’t touch my life is a waste of my time.

Either philosophy can work, but either type can fail, too. The key? Content choices, of course. It might help you to remember that merely “interesting” is never the same as Compelling.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2021 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #421: Proximity, and what it Means for you

It’s probably only natural to not want to be coached. But the air talents I’ve encountered who feel that way (at first) are usually the ones who just don’t see past trying to be funny, or think that “trending” in social media is a goal. (It’s not. Connecting with the Listener is.) And those things will come as a byproduct of your skills improving.

I’ve always seen coaching – at least the way I do it – as being like an acting coach working with actors, and most of the things I teach come from an acting or writing background, in addition to decades of radio experience. We start with the radio stuff – how to do the “basics” (giving the station’s name, artist info, time, etc.), then, when that’s really solid and varied, it’s all about the Art.

So here’s a lesson: Proximity is the decider of delivery.

Think about it. Where you “see” the listener being determines how you say something. If you see me just a couple of feet away from you in my car, that’s one thing. If you picture me as 10 feet away in an office full of noise, that’s different. Or maybe you picture me driving in traffic with my head on a swivel, trying not to get killed by some clod with his ear buds in, yakking on the phone while he eats a breakfast burrito. (You may need to talk louder.)

If you don’t know, make it up. Give yourself a proximity “setting” that fits what you’re going to talk about. All of a sudden, you’re not just another ‘voice saying words’ in the background. You’re talking to me. Every great talent – and every great station – has this ingredient.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2021 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #420: Keep on Sharing

What you bring to the table besides your voice and the ability to read things off a computer screen is what decides whether people actually listen to you or not. Here’s a tip taken from a recent coaching session recap:

Keep on sharing. What you have in common with the listener is what brings her/him a step closer. Always bringing the listener closer makes the station a star, and each Personality a star.

The rest of the time, it’s just about being a good ambassador for the station, and being a good voice actor.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2021 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #419: Start with the Name, then Add

Better voice acting is always part of the quest, and that starts with how you say the station’s name.

On my stations, we put it first (the first thing out of your mouth) for a reason, like the Jif label on the outside of the jar. So it’s important that you have an “I like peanut butter” sound. With that thought in mind, then all you have to do in MusicRadio is simply match the tempo and emotional ‘vibe’ of the song, and you’ll be right in the pocket….a part of – and logical extension of – the music, instead of interrupting it to sell something. From there, you just continue with whatever the Content is. But you’re already more “ear friendly” from this one technique.

Note: I believe in the name of the station first in all formats. Not every market has PPM. If you’re a diary market, it’s important to get CREDIT for what you do. So plant that seed.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2021 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #418: Composition!

With the emphasis put on storytelling nowadays, a lot of air talent is left in the dark, with no real coaching on HOW to become better at it. COMPOSITION is the missing skill a lot of the time. So here are three guidelines that I coach:

1. As you prep the break (or podcast), pay attention to what needs to be left OUT. Most C-level stories have too many “scenes”, too many names, or too many plot points that really aren’t necessary. Weed them out.

2. Endings are the second-most pressing need for improved storytelling. Avoid trying to “tie a neat bow around it” at the end. “Aesop’s Fable” endings are fine for children, but can sound sappy or redundant to most people. You’ll stand out more by NOT doing this. The same goes for the “self-help book” type of ending. Ick. Knock off the moralizing, please. And the ending should always be something that WASN’T said earlier in the break. Surprise me.

3. The first place where something unexpected is said is probably going to be the best ‘exit’. Taking the First Exit is surprising in itself, because most people drive right past it.

Hope this helps you.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2021 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #417: A Basic Storytelling Kit

This came up in a music radio session the other day with a morning team. Here’s an excerpt from their recap…

A key to the telling of any story is to think about how it unfolds. Just “winging it” is what real people do, but that’s not what sets apart air personalities and storytellers. You want to be constantly pointing forward, moving forward, to the next thing – that “reveal” that advances the story.

Example: You started the second News story with “…and alligators do not make good teammates…” followed by “(City) FC is based in Orlando Florida this year, and during Monday’s practice the team got a surprise…”

Gee, wonder what it will be? It’s certainly not a ’surprise’ anymore, because of the opening sentence. Flip those two lines around, and you tell a story. Say them in the order you did, and it lands with a thud.

This is the simplest example of the art of storytelling, and, as a result, pulling people closer to you.

Here are three ‘bonus crayons’…
(1) leading to the obvious will kill the story.
(2) So will repetition.
(3) And the Ending should always be something that wasn’t said earlier in the break.

You want to get concise, but still sound conversational and spontaneous.

Even if this is just a refresher course for you, I hope these thoughts help you. Be great today. Do something that someone might remember.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2021 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #416: Team Show Tip — What’s Your Partner’s Role?

So many team shows are “the funny person, and the person who laughs at the jokes”.

But often, the funny person isn’t all that funny. And the person who laughs sounds insincere, or even reluctant to live that role.

First of all, there’s a difference between saying funny things (which is pretty rare) and “saying things funny”, which is all about “camera angles” and vocabulary.

But usually, it’s about a lack of “blocking” in the theater sense of knowing what you’re going to do, and where and when that will happen.

“We can’t rehearse. It always seems flat when we do it a second time” is an excuse I hear often, but it’s not about knowing exactly what the other person will say. If you talk about a break beforehand, you don’t have to know what they’ll say. You just need to know WHEN they’ll say it. (And you should know what KIND of comment to expect. That just grows out of knowing each other well.)

Hand signals – which most teams are reluctant to use – make this ultra-easy. It’s stunning how many people think they don’t need them. (And they’re wrong.)

And being willing to get out on the first “reveal” (the First Exit) is another technique that will guarantee success. (Because it’s a surprise even to YOU.)

If you’re just making your partner into an information giver and/or a laugh track, I wish you well, but I won’t be listening. It’s just too predictable.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2021 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #415: Another Tip from Roy London

Roy London: Actor, writer, teacher and coach.
If you watch the Academy Awards, you’ve heard his name. Brad Pitt, Sharon Stone, Forrest Whitaker, Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and dozens of other actors have spoken about his coaching’s impact on their careers. At one point, he taught over 250 actors weekly, and coached many more privately.

I’m a radio talent coach, and have worked with over 1500 radio personalities and a few TV personalities and anchors, but my background is in acting. And believe me, radio IS about acting.

So here’s a piece of advice from Roy London:
“You have to live in your vulnerability.”

If you’re not showing some sort of vulnerability on the air, if you just want to be seen as pleasant, funny, a “got it all together” person, you’re going to be limited in how big an audience you can grow.

Steve Sunshine at Spirit 105.9 in Austin and I spent two entire coaching sessions working on how Steve would reveal on the air that he had been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s.

Brant Hansen has always been brilliant and thought-provoking, but he and I also worked on showing his quirkiness by his playing “Smoke on the Water” on his accordion on the air – and cultivating his love of…wait for it…toast.

I have an air talent now whose husband has ultra-serious health issues. There are days when it’s difficult for her to go on the air at all, and other days when being on the air is a relief and an emotional release. We talk a lot.

NBA coach Don Nelson was known for being a good interview and being funny, but one time he came on the air with me and revealed that he was incredibly nervous because he was heading to the airport in just a few minutes to meet the twenty-something year old daughter he had just found out he hadI

Your vulnerability is also a strength, if you know how to reveal it without chasing people away. It also adds to the “one thing I know about you that I don’t know about your competition” factor that I think makes a huge difference in anyone’s career.

If you have a coach and you’re working on this, great. If you have a coach and you’re NOT working on this, get a new coach.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2021 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.