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.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #414: Why Coaching is a Good Idea

It’s always amazed me how some people resist coaching. Where would any great actor or any great athlete be without coaching?

They’d be in the minor leagues, or be selling shoes to make money while they did Shakespeare to 10 people in a park for free.

Critique and Coaching are not the same thing, so there is that. Some people have had the “under the microscope” experience that makes them feel like they can’t do anything right. But coaching – real coaching – is always about finding what you do best. The rest is just “weeding the garden”.

Yes, you do want to master “the basics” and understand structure and vocal technique and a hundred other things. But if you’re not trying to identify and cultivate what you do best, you’re not growing. You’re just doing the same show every day.

So if that didn’t sway you, here’s the short version: Not being boring and predictable; that’s why coaching is a good idea.

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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 #413: We Do It a Certain Way

Ask yourself these questions:

What does the Program Director want the station to sound like?
Does the morning team have the same vision? How about the other dayparts? Do YOU know what makes your station sound different, and unique?

I deal with this all the time. Great stations have common factors.
The thread of consistency; the gold bar at the core of the station, should be not only known, but clearly identified and discussed among the staff.

Being reverent in a certain way; being Irreverent in a certain way. The language in the Imaging, the Promos, the standard of Production.

Example: early on in my career, I got onto how any spot or promo should change the music at least once, because there’s at least one place in all ‘copy’ where a momentum or mood change is needed. At my stations, you COULDN’T just use one piece of music in a spot unless the client specified it (like using a jingle with a “donut” for the copy).

But it goes much farther, and deeper, than that. STATIONALITY is what the great ones have. There’s an understood attitude and common values that run through every daypart, even though (of course) each air talent is different.

Like the Beatles. They had this sound that was only theirs, and they all knew what it was, but each singer and each instrument was totally individual in style.

You can tell a great station before you even hear its name said. If your station isn’t like that, get to work. CREATE something unique.

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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 #412: Friend, not Audience

Radio is full of people talking to an audience.

This is a mistake, because we say things differently, more casually, when we’re just talking to a good friend. We repeat points unnecessarily, use language that’s a little too “formal”, and sound just a little distant, when we talk to more than one person.

There is very little space between you and the listener. You’re in my car, two feet away.

ALWAYS say things like you’re talking to ME – a friend – instead of a group of people. Radio is at its best when it’s one-on-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 #411: The Prime Directive for Content

The Prime Directive was the guiding ‘mission statement’ in Star Trek.

Here’s ours, in music radio:

Whatever you want to say needs to be as good as your best song.
If it’s not, why are you saying it?

This manifests in two ways – Subject matter, and Delivery.

Subject matter should be top of mind, and you want the listener to be able to easily see himself/herself in that situation.

Delivery: “as good as your best song” can be in the WAY that you say something. Sounding like you actually care (with some degree of emotional engagement). Painting a good word picture. Or simply being a good companion to the music, rather than an interruption.

Unless I’m working with you, I can’t tell which of these you need to work on. But I’ll bet there is 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 #410 – The Elevator Trip

We’re not taking a car trip together. We’re taking an elevator trip together. I’m gonna go up three floors and then get off. You need to be done by then.

BREVITY. We owe it to the Listener to be concise.

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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.