Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #310 – Why You Want To Talk To ONE Person

Every time I hear an air talent talk to a “plurality” with words like “folks,” “ladies,” “all of you” (or “some of you”), etc. I want to call them up and do a coaching session right NOW on why this is ineffective.

Maybe you can best understand it through Bob Dylan’s acceptance speech when he received the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. In part, he said “As a performer, I’ve played for 50,000 people and I’ve played for 50 people, and I can tell you that it is harder to play for 50 people. 50,000 people have a singular persona; not so with 50. (With fifty) they can perceive things more clearly. Your honesty and how it relates to the depth of your talent is tried.” He added, “The fact that the Nobel committee is so small is not lost on me.”

The smaller the target, the more clear the perception, the more you can reveal. “Hello, Cleveland” doesn’t address anyone in particular.

When I worked at a female-targeted station, I just talked to my wife. When I worked a male-targeted station, I talked to my cousin Ricky, who was like a brother to me.

Put a picture of someone who personifies your target listener in the Control Room where you can’t miss it – like taping it to a chair in front of you.

Now….reveal.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #309 – Jump Into The Pool

The other day, during a session, we were talking about what to do for Mother’s Day. I mentioned having my mother do my show one Mother’s Day years ago, and the talent I was working with said, “I could bring my daughter on with me…which she would hate.”

I replied, “And that – her being resistant to it – would be something EVERY listener could identify with.”

Continuing, I suggested that she act out – complete with sound effects – her dragging her daughter into the room. Like…with a chain, scraping across the floor. Dripping with reluctance.

So here’s the lesson: Don’t be afraid to make things theatrical. The more you create that “theater of the mind” thing, where the listener can PICTURE it, the better.

Unlike real life, JUMP INTO THE POOL.
DON’T look to see if there’s any water in it first.
Because all people are going to remember is that you jumped.

Note: My friend Ron Chapman, legendary Dallas morning man, once jumped out of an airplane on the air. THAT was GREAT radio.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #308 – I Want People to Know When They’re Good

Because of a recent conversation with my partner and friend John Frost, maybe it’s a good idea to talk about why coaching is so essential to an air talent’s growth.

When I first set out on this path more than 20 years ago, I had only heard of two people that specifically worked on coaching talent – Valerie Geller and Randy Lane. Each of them has credentials a mile long, and I’ve learned things from each of them. Valerie is the Great Guru of Talk radio, with clients all over the world, and – among others – Rush Limbaugh as one of her first projects. Randy is a master psychologist, with a gentle touch and a large dollop of personal magnetism.

We’re all a little different, though. I purposely chose to build an image of frankness (bordering on bluntness) because it’s intense, man. My process is very personal, and – despite what the reputation might lead you to believe – I mainly just want people to know when they’re good. Yes, I point out flaws in execution when needed, and definitely want to have a Strategic reason for everything that we do, but my own mentors always took time to make sure that I knew whatever my strengths were.

And if you’re not getting that kind of support, you should be. No one makes it alone, we all start off making every mistake in the book, and Strategy and Tactics are very different things. But we all share one thing: the ability to LEARN.

As you read these tips every week, I hope you glean something from each one that helps you get better.

Next week, we’ll put the hammer down on something – don’t know what yet, but remember where it’s coming from. And thanks to everyone that helped me get to where I can help you.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #307 – Team Spirit, as it applies to Your Station

In the last tip, I referred to basketball coaching legend John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success” – something you should read, if you haven’t already done so.
Here’s another prime tenet of his teaching: Team Spirit. About that, he says “The star of the team is the team. ‘We’ supercedes ‘me.’”

So ask yourself this: When’s the last time you even MENTIONED someone else on your station? And even if you did, did you offer any real insight as to why I should listen? We’ve all heard those “Rocky Gomez plays more of your favorites this afternoon at 3” plugs, and these do NOT work. The fact that Ol’ Rock is gonna show up for work is NOT a reason for me to listen to him. I can “play more of my favorites” on my phone. I don’t need him.

Radio pioneer Gordon McLendon used to say “Make stars of the morning show. Then they should make stars of everybody else.” This seems to have been forgotten. And great staffs carried it much further; we ALL made stars of everyone else. And it wasn’t just perfunctory mentions of a name and when he or she would be on the air. We’d borrow quotes we heard them do, joke about quirks in their personalities, share little things about our relationships, eating out together, what they wore to work. Back during the final throes of the Viet Nam conflict, I even promoted Christopher Haze, our night guy on KNUS in Dallas, as being ABLE to show up for work because he had swallowed some aluminum foil coated in peanut butter to get out of the draft.

WE…are a radio station. YOU…are one person on it.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #306 – Little Things Make Big Things Happen: A lesson from John Wooden

This tip is for music stations.

If you don’t know who John Wooden is, you’re probably not a basketball fan. Wooden, called “The Wizard of Westwood,” won TEN NCAA national championships in a 12-year period as head coach at UCLA, including a record seven in a ROW. (No other team has won more than four in a row.) Many of his players became NBA stars, often Hall of Famers like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Gail Goodrich, and Bill Walton.

Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success” has become the Bible to dozens of present-day coaches, and one of the things adjacent to it is his list of “12 Lessons in Leadership”, one of which is “Little things make big things happen”.

This directly applies to radio, with the current generation of radio talents who grew up with the computer running everything, voice-tracked shows taking away timing and “right here/right now” presence, and a total lack of understanding that sixty seconds is a LONG time.

So let’s concentrate on just one aspect of how your radio station can benefit from John Wooden’s lesson. Something simple, like whether or not the jock talking – or an imaging piece or a jingle – occurs TOO SOON on the end of a “cold ending” song.

Too soon = not a good thing. On a “cold” end, the listener wants to HEAR that last word or chord hit, not hear it stomped on. WAIT for it. You don’t want “dead air” (of course), but impatience is a drag, and a good reason for someone to go to a streaming service instead of you.
(This actually includes songs with fade-out endings, too. You want to end on a particular word or phrase, not in the middle of a sentence in the lyrics. And BEFORE it goes to virtually nothing that can be heard in the car.)

Too late = creates the immediate impression that you’re either not paying attention, or you just don’t have very good motor skills.

Just right = respecting the music in a way that leads to the next element hitting at the perfect time, so your voice or your Imaging piece or your jingle isn’t seen as an INTRUSION on my favorite song.

Do this all the time, every time, and I promise you’ll have a competitive advantage that other stations won’t even notice, and even if they did, they’re too lazy to raise their standard.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #305 – The Modified Q Format

This is what I hear a lot of the time nowadays: A jock stops down in the middle of two songs for no apparent reason. Then he or she reads some idiotic story from the internet that most people saw five days ago, adding a C-minus punch line. (Or the jock does some piece of trivia, or some “cheerful thought for the day”.) Then they lurch forward into another song.

But back in the day, when radio had tons of forward momentum and much bigger ratings, there was this thing called the “Q” format. It was somewhat the same as the Drake format, in that jocks talked over song intros (and at the end of a music sweep, the jock talked at the end of the last song, of course, and did some Content into a commercial break).
But the Q format was often thought of as screaming, hundred-mile-an-hour jocks cramming as much as they could into an intro before the vocal hit.

So over the next few years, it morphed into a modified Q format, where we were more conversational and real-sounding. A song ended, the next song started, and we did a thought over the intro. Easy-peasy.

And it MOVED. “The big wheel kept on turning” (the music didn’t stop until we were going to a commercial break), and “Imaging” was more sparse than it is now, better produced, and brief – so it stood out more.

Guess what. It still works. And if you’re the “stop down and kill the momentum” station, you’d better hope that the modified Q format isn’t your competitor.

This is what can save radio today. Podcasts aren’t the answer; they’re used in a different way. (And with hundreds of thousands of podcasts available, the podcast ADDICT still only downloads about seven.) Spotify can’t compete, because when you have Momentum plus Content, you have something they don’t. And streaming (iTunes, Amazon music, Pandora, etc.) doesn’t comment on anything local, or tell me it’s going to hail tonight at 2am.

I would say “Let’s Make Radio Great Again,” but I don’t have orange hair and don’t want to build a wall around Spotify. So let’s just try Momentum + Personality.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #304 – How Stories Work

Telling a story is like being on a see-saw. On one end is that you want to share something. On the other end is not wasting the listener’s time.

Here are some rules to help you NOT be the person who takes a long time to tell a story that doesn’t matter:

The first line or two will be what “tethers” your subject matter to the listener – or not. Start abruptly into something that isn’t timely or relevant to the listener, and you’re dead in the water already. Spend too long getting into it, again…dead.

Add only the essential details, and let vocabulary and attitude, fueled by Emotions, fill it out. More facts than we need, names we don’t know, too much setting up who someone is, etc. will kill the story.

End with something we DIDN’T hear earlier in the story. The ending should surprise, delight, or inform. Try not to use cornball punch lines. The “that’s what SHE said” type of line is beaten to death.

Here’s an example, from a team show I worked with:

T: Oh, check your mail today. You may get the coupon that I got yesterday. It was for a new product, called “Spam lite.”

B: What do they leave out…to make Spam lite?

T: I don’t know…the snout?

That’s how easy it is, and how little time it takes, to serve up something that the listener will REMEMBER. (On the air, even with the station’s name, artist, song title, and the team’s name leading off the break, this took only about 20 seconds. But it’s never really about length. It’s about IMPACT.)

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #303 – Doing the Wrong Thing Well

Believe it or not, there are some instances when a really good talent will foul the ball off his own shin. It happens to baseball players, and it most assuredly happens to air talent.

Case in point, recently a wonderful talent spent time (a setup, followed by two phone calls) setting up a little factoid about how we really only use about 13% of the things we learned in school.

Right at the outset, there are several things wrong with this:

  1. It’s not particularly timely, which means it’s largely irrelevant, because it’s not top-of-mind TODAY. (Where does this rank on the list of the things that are most important to your listener today, 150th? 250th?)
  2. It relies on using a percentage, which automatically makes it sound “left-brain” driven, as opposed to something more “right-brain” and visual and creative, and…
  3. Trying to get phone call response will inevitably lead to one decent reaction or story. Any call that follows will basically be just the same story with a different example.

I call this “doing the wrong thing well.” It sounded “professional”, and it got some reaction from the listeners (although it was limited). But literally anyone on any station could have done it, so it doesn’t really give you any way to stand out, or to offer something unique. So while it “ticks all the boxes” for filling some time, it’s not really very compelling.

As I told this talent in a coaching session afterwards, instead of doing the wrong thing well, let’s do the RIGHT thing really well. By “right thing”, I mean something that the listener is already thinking about – something top of mind that you can share a perspective on. Only then can you pique interest and reveal something about yourself in a compelling and unique way.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #302 – Looking in the Window

Here’s a little something that happened in a recent session with a great morning team in Austin. I always try to do video sessions, and during this one, they were on location somewhere.

As we talked, I could see people behind them looking in the window. The people were just curious, wonder what they were doing, and what the two of them were like.

And that’s what happens every time someone tunes in, too.

It’s kind of like a remark that Garry Shandling made to Jerry Seinfeld in a “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” episode, when they talked about seeing Robin Williams for the first time: “You don’t remember what he SAID so much as you remember what he WAS.”

So think about who YOU are, to the listener. Are you just another person “broad stroke” over-performing, larger than life – but not in a good way? Or are you someone I can identify with, who’s entertaining, but also surprisingly down to earth and someone I’d like to hang out with? What you project is a choice. Choose wisely, because Shandling was right.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #301 – Stop TRYING to be Noticed

One of the prime ingredients in all truly great talents is that they connect with the listener on a daily basis.

And one of the keys in getting to that place is:

Stop TRYING to be noticed.

Instead of constantly trying for punch lines, or “talking points” that just get the same five people to call in with the same types of reactions we always hear, the ‘Real Deal’ is to just be part of the listener’s life each day. Talk about things that we all have in common, then put your individual spin on it.

Think about this…the more you try to be noticed, the more it’s just about YOU. But the more you just try to be part of something that we share together, the more it’s about US.

And that’s what gets ratings. If you build your show around having something going on that I can relate to each day, I’ll come back – over and over again.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.