Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #404: More Music Shouldn’t Mean Less Personality

It’s a big challenge for a Programmer. You want people to listen, so you play their favorite songs. But if all you are is a playlist, you’re not even competing in the radio world. You’re competing with entities like Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, iTunes music, etc. (Even my cable TV network has dozens of music channels.)

What every station should want is effortless flow and momentum, but still having (or taking) time to DO something. “More music” can often mean “less Personality”. That’s a death trap.

But on the other hand, “No restrictions”, the opposite side of the coin, is a trap of a different kind. Great personalities have to be as good as the best song you play, too.

Music. Personality. You don’t want one without the other – in ANY daypart.

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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 #403: The Big Goal, and How to Get It

It’s easy to wonder why radio stations sometimes decay, or never really become top stations. This needn’t happen. Bill Young, PD of KILT in Houston for many years, was a major influence on me and countless others who worked for him. Before it became okay to own a zillion stations, Bill had an AM and an FM that were both hugely successful for one reason: he filled the hallways with the most talented people he could find. Then he let them do what they do: create great radio, great Production, great Promotions, and come up with great ideas that challenged the “We’ve always done it this way” prison.

My friend “Brother Jon” Rivers, a great Top 40 jock who then became probably the best-known personality and Programmer in Contemporary Christian radio at KLTY in Dallas, put it this way: “If you hire enough really talented people, you eventually reach ‘critical mass’, where the station EXPLODES – in a good way. It gets so good in every area that success is just a byproduct.” That’s the Big Goal.

If your station isn’t this way, I would recommend doing everything you can to change it. Hire the brightest minds. If budget is a challenge, hire young, less experienced people and let them grow under this umbrella.

I’m not one of those “everything was better in the old days” people, but in radio, that certainly can sometimes be true. ALWAYS look for the creative “spark” when you make a hire.

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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 #402: Team Shows are like a Marriage

Anyone who’s done a team show knows that it’s very similar to a marriage. As a matter of fact, I know many air talents who refer to their partner as “my work wife” (or husband).

You spend a lot of time together. (If you don’t, you won’t be very good.)
You’re working toward shared goals.
You want it to last. (Especially now, “movement” isn’t nearly the same as it was 20 years ago. A new job is pretty hard to find when one company owns multiple stations. If you divorce one station, you probably divorce all the stations in that cluster, or maybe even all the stations in that company.)

So, remember this: If you “cheat” on a team show, it may bring on a divorce. Here’s how I define “cheating” in the radio context:
Hold your ego in check. If you don’t, resentment sets in.
If you habitually talk over a partner, resentment sets in.
If you don’t share the credit, resentment sets in.

And remember that nobody goes to a party to hear someone fight with his wife.

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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 #401: TEAM Ego, not Individual Ego

One of the main things I watch out for as a coach is when someone’s ego gets overblown. Here’s why…

The Beatles squabbled often, and George Harrison and Ringo Starr grew to resent how John Lennon and Paul McCartney were making a LOT more money than they were – when often, George, in particular, contributed lyrics or musical ideas that played a big part in fleshing out a song that John or Paul “wrote”.

Many groups, like U2 for example, learned from this, and simply listed “U2” as the writers of their songs. Problem solved.

As a team show, or as a radio station. a COLLECTIVE ego, where you have pride as a whole, as a TEAM – but not one person’s ego dominating everything – always works best.

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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 #400: One Story at a Time

You hear a great story. Then you hear another one. But the odds are overwhelming that you’ll only remember one of them.

A story can’t set up a story. That should be TWO breaks.

In Music Radio, the reason for this is usually just a lack of discipline. Or ego.

The cure: ONE story per break.

In Talk Radio, we often hear the host tell a story, then bring on a guest, who then tells another story. Or even worse, we often hear the host tell most of the story while introducing the guest, then that person comes on and tells the longer, more detailed, and often more boring version.

The cure: Make it simpler; more compact. Do a SHORT intro, then just let the guest tell his (or her) story. Then, INSTEAD of launching into a story of your own (which can come across like you’re trying to “top” the other person), simply REACT to the other person’s story.

This discipline is what I often refer to as “The Barney Fife Method” – meaning, like the deputy on the old Andy Griffith Show, Barney only HAD one bullet. I constantly tell people “Fire your one bullet. Then you have to ‘go back to the courthouse’ to get another one.”

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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 #399: MEAN it

It’s essential that you have some sort of emotional investment in what you’re saying, whether it’s just reading copy, giving an opinion, etc. In short, you need to sound like you MEAN it.

Yes, it’s a challenge, especially with something you’ve talked about a zillion times on the air, like a station promotion, feature, or contest.

But if you don’t sound like you mean it, no one is going to pay much attention to it.

Here’s a tip: when I go through “copy”, I mentally highlight (or even physically underline) the ONE word in each sentence that I want to stress. It only takes a few seconds of this prep work to make sure that it “imprints” on the mind of the listener.

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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 #398: Never Underestimate Companionship

There’s so much emphasis put on specific areas of Content. Stories. Stuff from social media posts, blogs, Pinterest…whatever. You can become inundated with well-intended thoughts that lead to aimless, largely punch-less stuff on the air.

Don’t forget about why radio succeeded in the first place: Companionship.
It’s still a huge factor. The morning team that entertains you. The midday jock that’s always in a good mood and makes you laugh now and then. The afternoon jock who makes slogging home after work easier.

I coach hundreds of things to make that factor ever-present in not just what you do, but in how you do it – carving out an identity along the way.

Remember: “If I want to spend time with you”…is the listener’s bottom line.

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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 #397: Taking Credit for NOT Talking About it

In view of what happened at the nation’s capitol on January 6th, there’s an important caution – and concept – concerning what you should do when something like this dominates the news.

A lot of stations in some formats (like A/C or Contemporary Christian Music, or any music format, actually) choose to simply not talk about it. The danger here is coming across like an ostrich with your head stuck in the sand, like you don’t even know about what happened. This is not something I recommend, although it is better than alienating your audience by sounding off with an opinion that could severely damage your listenership.

The 2nd – and better – way to handle it is to take credit for NOT talking about it. A simple statement like “We’ve all seen what’s in the news right now, but just know that this morning when you’re taking the kids to school, we’re NOT going to be talking about that.” (Same for “picking up the kids” in the afternoon, or “running errands today.”)

You get credit in the mind of the listener for (1) being aware of it, even though you’re not talking about it, and (2) co-parenting, in a way, or at least being someone who’s not going to force the listener to discuss something with their kids that they might not want to discuss yet.

Believe me, this works. It builds TRUST, a huge factor that you should want in your favor.

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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 #396 – Production tip: Avoid Dead Silence

The digital Production world is so much fun. I first went headlong into it with Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, Next Gen, and now Logic Pro X. More tools now than ever before. (I also have Twisted Wave and Garage Band in my phone and iPad.)

Then I turn on the radio, and I hear a commercial or a station promo where it’s edited too tightly. No breaths; the pauses not quite long enough. Probably one of those 63-second “sixties” sped up or read at blinding speed to barely make it. “Avoiding silence” gone mad.

And the other side of the coin is where the spacing is right, but there’s this totally empty silence between sentences. That’s where a flub happened, or something was pasted together, and the resulting eerie, totally dead silence is noticed by the brain.

So here’s the overview: By all means, use the incredible Production tools that we have available. But remember that it still has to have an ‘organic’ factor to actually work.

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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 #395: When to Plan the Next Break

Shows that “fly by the seat of their pants” inevitably sound loose and have ‘dead’ time that needn’t be there.

Now, some 355 stations into this talent coaching stuff, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: people need to plan, not just “wing it”.

Here’s the easiest way to get a simple system in place…

Right after you finish a break, lay out the NEXT break. If you’re in a team show, it’s doubly important. A quick run-through (“Okay, next we’ll do the rodeo thing; I’ll start. Remember your line that we’re going to get out on…”). Now, with that done, you now have several minutes to relax, chat, etc.

The old saying is “if you fail to plan, your plan is to fail,” and by and large, it’s true.

Note: This does NOT kill spontaneity; it just kills uncertainty. And sounding SURE is what creates the “command presence” that all great air talents have.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.