Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #548: Why “More Music” Doesn’t Really Work Anymore

“More Music” used to be a big thing. Talk – of any kind – was pretty much the enemy. (One station in Dallas promoted “No Disc Jockeys”.) And a lot of stations had the goal of playing as many songs as possible in every single hour.

That approach just won’t work very well anymore. Here’s why:
I can get the music you play on any number of platforms – SiriusXM, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music, iTunes, You Tube, etc. etc. etc. And I can hear all those songs WITHOUT YOU.

People hunger to be entertained. They hunger to connect with air talents who talk about our lives, what we each go through every day, what amuses us, what makes us sad, even.

Music can’t win by itself. CONTENT wins. Make me laugh, make me cry, make me feel like we have something in common.
And on top of that, play songs that I like a lot. Simple.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #547: The Attention Span of a Hummingbird

Radio isn’t the same as 20 years ago – or even 10 years ago. It can’t be. There are so many other entertainment options, from wasting hours reading nameless, faceless people’s comments on social media to a gazillion channels on TV, You Tube, etc.

Radio listeners today have the attention span of a hummingbird. A couple of minutes (or less) and “click” – off they go.

This is why, as an air talent, you need to do something compelling or entertaining NOW. If there’s nothing going on for a few minutes, the listener is gone. The average “listen” is now less than 20 minutes, and people want to be engaged – or you’re dead in the water.

If you’re a PD, you’d better be encouraging everyone to be a full-blown Personality. This doesn’t necessarily mean trying to be funny. CONNECTING with the listener is what works. What do you and I have in common? Talk about that.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #546: All Morning how Hosts, All the Time

When I was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, several of the people attending got into a discussion of how we got there. It was surprising to me that many other inductees felt the same way I did, that at the start of our careers, we might have been the worst air talent at the station.

My big break came when I got out of college, after working at the local station there, and graduated to Top 40 monster KEEL in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana.

The morning guy was Larry Ryan, a legend in those parts, just as Ron Chapman (and later Kidd Kraddick and Terry Dorsey) were legends in my next stop, Dallas.

But at KEEL – BESIDES Larry Ryan, we had Howard Clark, long a mainstay at powerhouse Drake-consulted KFRC in San Francisco, Steve Kelly (who’s probably been on every concert promo you’ve noticed in the last 20 years), and a guy named Ronald F. Montgomery, maybe the most popular deejay on the staff.

Anyone in that lineup could have just slid into the morning slot if Larry Ryan left. (Howard did. And I eventually did mornings in both Dallas and Houston, which led to the Hall of Fame thing.)

Later, as Corporate Talent Coach for the 45 Paxson stations (now iHeart) in Florida, I encouraged every one of our PDs to hire PERSONALITIES in every single daypart. When you’ve got a whole staff of potential morning drive candidates, life gets a lot easier.

Two questions:
Is this your philosophy?
If not, why not?

“We don’t have the budget” is the typical excuse, but that’s why you hire people with potential and then TRAIN them.

This is why I went into coaching. I want every single person I work with to have an excellent, enjoyable career. And I want every one of them to be capable of stepping into a Morning Drive slot if that’s their desire.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #545: You’re Not the Expert

You hear this all the time – an air talent weighing in on something, drawing conclusions or espousing opinions without any clinical background.

Here’s a message for you: Stay in your lane. You’re a deejay (or Talk show host), not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. The EXPERT is the expert. You’re the conduit for putting the Subject on the air.

Don’t try to be what you’re not. Try to be the best at what you are.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #544: Topics – The Deeper End of the Pool

Geez, I hate the word “topic”. It sounds so cold and formal. (I use “subject” in coaching.)

Here’s why – nothing is a “topic” in or by itself. The deeper end of the pool in the search for on-air Content is when you add YOUR FEELINGS (or story), so you’re not just reading a social media posting, then asking for people to call in and do your show for you.

When it becomes personal, that’s when it’s actual Content. Without that, it’s just noise.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #543: Respecting the Music – A Subtle Way to Stand Out

Some radio stations make it kind of hard to listen to your favorite songs. A few examples of how that can happen:

Cue tones that fire too early, so that nice soft ending is CRASHED into by an Imaging piece or the next song.

Air talent that comes in too early on the end of a song. (Do we EVER get to hear a song end?) There’s a “last, logical place” to come in or for the next element to fire. On every single song.

Deejays that talk really fast over a slow-paced song. This comes across like you’re not listening to the music at all.

The “talk right up to the vocal” disease. Ugh. Say what you have to say. Then shut up.

Or someone finishes a Content break, then a dreadfully slow and/or low-level song plays.

You may think these things don’t matter much, but if you don’t respect the music, or you’re not sensitive to it, that shows. And some people sound like they’re just waiting for the song to end so they can talk, like the song is some sort of minor annoyance. (Actually, YOU are the annoyance.)

Keep in mind that with all the streaming services available today, I can hear every single song you play – without you.

Stations that have some sort of sensibility to the music just resonate better with the listener. It’s subtle, but it’s true. When you’re that station, people notice. It may be subconscious, but it makes a tangible difference.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #542: A Tip for Anyone Who’s New to a Market

New to a market? Here’s a great tip:
Take a different route to work each day. You’ll see where construction is going on, what stores are opening (or closing), etc.

It’s easy. Just turn one street sooner, or one street later from your normal route. Learn the neighborhood, then learn the city. It’s much better to see and feel the vibe than it is to just be given some claptrap about who the “average” listener is.

Dallas radio legend Ron Chapman was a great example. One day, he was plugging a station event, and instead of just giving the name of the location or street address, he added, “You know…it used to be the bank building, and before that it was the Mexican restaurant…”

Genius. Immediately, you know that he’s the guy from HERE, and everybody else ISN’T.

You could be that guy, too. It just takes a little exploring.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #541: Think Like an Artist

You may not think of it this way, but radio IS performance art. It’s not an “exercise”, it’s not just about mechanics. Yes, you want to play the right songs, the right number of them, and a solid rotation….blah blah-blah blah-blah.

But it’s really all just about connecting with the Listener.

Great stations seem to just sort of “hatch” themselves, and they sound different from everything else. They may have a new format for that market, or new production elements, but the differentiating factor is almost always that at its core, they see it as Art. They’re trying to entertain you. That’s the only way it really creates magic.

Watch great movies, read great books, develop a vast vocabulary and the ability to pick just the right wording on the spur of the moment. Get some coaching. It’s not just a job. (But of course it can be, IF you want to limit your own development.)

Most of the truly great air talents I’ve worked with have been constantly learning and developing the ART of engaging and entertaining people. And if I start working with someone who doesn’t get this, after the “basics”, the Art becomes the #1 agenda.

Think like an artist, not like a robot.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #540: Why “Happy Accidents” Happen

The great movie director Arthur Penn (Bonnie & Clyde, Little Big Man, The Missouri Breaks, etc.) often spoke of what he called ‘happy accidents’ occurring during the filming. Little movements or reactions or lines that weren’t in the script, but were magical.

I see the same thing in radio – breaks that just “appear” out of nowhere and crack people up.

An example comes from my friend Wally, of The Wally Show on WAY-FM. He sent me this break with a note saying, “It works because everyone played their role perfectly and organically. I set it up with a polarizing statement for our audience. Betty (his female partner) provides the correct balance for the listener, and then (Producer) Gavin knew when to subtly add something that led me to an ‘out’ that was pretty funny. None of it planned, just a show firing on all the right cylinders.”
Here it is:

Then, with a different style, a break from Morgan Smith, afternoon personality on KSBJ in Houston. (*Salute to PD Randy Fox, who really gets this stuff):

Each of these just sort of “popped up”, but I think there’s a reason WHY:

When you get fully used to preparing breaks well, some breaks will just prepare themselves.

I’ve found that the more you prep well, the more “happy accidents” seem to happen. Shows that “wing it” more are usually sort of “hit and miss”.

It always pays to be good at constructing breaks. The improv moments “land” better as a result.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #539: A Lesson from Derek Jeter

New York Yankees Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter recently played in his first “Oldtimers Game”. At one point he was asked about the current Yankees team bringing up some young players, and how to handle the pressure of playing in New York.

I think it resonates to anyone in radio who’s looking to move up to a larger market.

He said, “It’s the same game, there are just more people in the stands. I think sometimes when you get up to this level you try to do things a little bit differently, but you have to be yourself. Don’t try to do something that you’re not accustomed to. You have to enjoy yourself, and try to improve each and every day. The bottom line here is you gotta win.”

Amen.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.