Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #566: Speaking Well = Success and Respect

Okay, this tip is for radio and TV talent, but it’s also kind of for life in general.

I wholly believe that if you want to be successful – and be respected – the key is speaking well. This will get you ahead in almost any profession, but I believe it especially applies to radio and TV.

In my work with hundreds of on-air talents, and particularly with the TV personalities I’ve coached, we stress two essential ingredients:

1. You should have a wide and expansive vocabulary. Falling back on stock phrases over and over again just makes you sound like you can’t think of another way to say something. And clichés are called clichés for a reason. Today’s cool new phrase is tomorrow’s “Okay, boomer” dismissal.

2. You should also have (or develop) the ability to choose just the right words ‘in the moment’ as you’re talking. Prep is one thing, but being live under fire is another.

No matter what profession you work in, but especially in any media format, there’s no advantage to sounding undereducated. Like NFL Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson said, “The next time I draft a dumb player, hit me over the head with a hammer.”

That’s not what you want them to feel about you.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #565: A Tip from Robert Redford

While flipping around You Tube the other night, I rewatched the “Inside the Actors Studio” episode with the great Robert Redford. I hadn’t seen it in a long time.

At one point, host James Lipton asked Redford what he looked for in a movie that he might want to act in or direct. Redford noted three things, to which I’ve added my thoughts as it applies to Content on the radio:

1. Story. If it’s not intriguing, no one will want to watch it. (Or listen to it.)

2. Character. Is the main character – in this case, you – a recognizable, three-dimensional human being? (To become this on the air, you have to crack your chest open and show us what’s in there. Share your thoughts on stuff that your listener cares about.)

3. Conflict. In Redford’s description, he said, “…the character changes because of the conflict.” (This is something I don’t always hear on the radio. How did what you’re talking about affect or change what you felt?)

If all he ever did as an actor was “The Natural” or “The Sting”, I’d still love Redford. And his beautiful “A River Runs Through It” is my favorite film that he’s directed. Robert Redford takes his art seriously, and refused, as he put it, to just “stand there and be handsome.”

And in that last paragraph, you saw the Story (his becoming not just a fine actor, but an excellent director), the Character (Redford), and the Conflict (not being labeled as just another pretty face).

You also learned a little about me.

See how easy it is?

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #564: How to Make a Subject Work on the Air

I coach show prep and Content constantly. One of the questions I get asked about most is, “How do I make a subject work on the air?” Sometimes it’s a good idea, but that air talent just can’t seem to find the “connective tissue” that really clicks with the audience.

So, a couple of simple guidelines about Content:

1. Keep in mind that if it’s not Relevant, it WON’T work. I’m listening for the things that apply to my life, today. Period. A story about “Growing wheat on Mars” is of no relevance to me. (I’m hesitant to even get on a plane these days. Someone might decide to open the door at 25,000 feet.)

2. But if it IS relevant, simply tap into an Emotion that we have in common about it, and it WILL work. Every time.

It’s a drag hearing emotionless conversation or a lame attempt at trying to make something matter just because you thought of a punch line.

Answer this question and you’ll be on the right track: “How does it affect me (as a listener)?”

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #563: Talk About People’s Feelings

Years ago at a radio gathering in Nashville, a dear friend and outstanding morning show talent and I did a Content seminar.

My friend had himself drifted a bit himself, doing old creaky bits like “This Day in History” and “Stupid Criminal Stories”.

…until I started coaching him. In the seminar, we talked about dropping stuff like that, and being more real-life and specific to his area, when a person in the audience asked what was wrong with trying to get a little humor out of something like “This Day in History”.

I explained that it’s “empty calories” in diet-speak, because it doesn’t really tell us anything about you. And since it’s just factoids, there’s no connection between you and the listener doing stuff like that.

Then I said, “You need to be talking to the woman who’s in the grocery store and has a hundred dollars…but the bill just rang up as 120 dollars, so she’s having to take some things out of the shopping cart, and she’s embarrassed.”

Talk about what people FEEL. It cannot fail. You’ll be a star.
Yes, there are techniques involved, but I’ve seen this work for literally hundreds of people that I’ve coached.

What do you have to lose by throwing away stock bits that don’t mean anything to anyone now? Crack your chest open and let us see what’s in there.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #562: A Useful Key to Using Social Media Posts on the Air

It’s hard to understand why an air talent thinks that reading social media posts on the air can somehow be inherently interesting in itself.

Sure, some postings are good, cool, funny, sweet. And we can certainly use those. But we all know that most “normal” people – who aren’t trained in how to communicate or entertain – are pretty boring. Bless their hearts, they use too many words and include insignificant details. The first sentence we hear can make you not want to hear the second one.

However, I never point out an issue without giving you a solution. Here’s a simple cure that will make this work for you:

Just use the good part – the one “quote” worth repeating. It’ll just be a sentence or two. We don’t need to know their dogs’ names.

Then you continue – if you want to – with your words, not more of theirs.

Start today in disciplining yourself to quit reading too much of it. Just using the one relevant part as a springboard, with your supplying the rest, lets us know how YOU feel. (We bond when that happens.) And the bonus is that this process actually makes the person who posted it look smarter.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #561: I’m a Ramblin’ Guy

At the start of his career, *Steve Martin’s standup routine included a “Ramblin’ Guy” parody folk song that started well, and then just kind of drifted off into the ozone layer for a while.

Sadly, we’ve all heard this (or done it ourselves), but it wasn’t funny. It was just someone starting something, then losing the center of it, then trying to steer it back onto the road, but adding too many words, using too many examples – all things I’ve written about in recent tips.

Here’s how to stop the “ramblin’ guy’ syndrome: Figure out how you’re going to END first. THEN figure out how you’re going to start; how you’ll get into the Subject.

Like a lot of things I coach, this seems too simple. It might seem backwards. But it instantly leads to developing a true awareness, in the moment, of how straight a line you’re going in – how many words you’re throwing at something.

Cut it down to the bone, then just relax into it and “let it breathe” a bit when you do it on the air. There’s room for a little leeway, but you have to stop yourself from the “adding one more thing” impulse.

(*We love you, Steve. Thanks for all the brilliant work. And for those who’ve heard that song, “.…blinnnnnnn.”)

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #560: Overcoming Low Expectations

My dear friend Beau Weaver, Voice Actor extraordinaire, recently expressed some interesting thoughts about today’s radio.
One of the things he said was that most young people he talks to think of a deejay as that person who mixes music at a club. Younger demos don’t care much about radio; they care more about podcasts and You Tube influencers. Radio, as usual, gets little respect.

So okay, how do you change this impression? How do you avoid being thought of as less than we were a decade or two ago?

It’s simple: be about the Listener’s life. (And yours.)

Lots of air talents are quick to talk about their lives. But remember that you…come second. The listener’s life is the springboard; your story is the complimentary piece. Most stations seem to get this order wrong. “I – me – my” is the language of the self-obsessed “all about me” people that we would avoid in daily life.

The minute I found this principle in my own career, everything after that was easy. So I’m passing it on to you – free. Now the question is whether or not you’ll do it.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #559: Two Thoughts About Imaging

Your station’s Imaging is on 24/7/365. More, by FAR, than any individual air talent is on.

It sends out your message to the listener; how you want to be thought of. Or as everyone says today, “Your Brand.” (Ick. What a stupid label.)

So, let me help you with two related thoughts:

1. Tell the truth.
Enough with the empty bragging. “The best of today and yesterday” sounds like a butcher shop trying to get rid of some hamburger that looks kind of gray.

2. Tell me what makes you different.
We’ve heard all the “blah blah” about “your favorites” or “50-minute music hours” or “12 in a row”. What separates you from every other station? What’s the Benefit for my spending time with you? (“Traffic on the 8s” worked for KRLD in Dallas, and became a mainstay for many other stations after they saw how this worked.)

If I consider every time your Imaging plays to be an unnecessary commercial for you, that’s not going to form the basis of a long-term relationship. Why you, instead of someone else? THAT should be your message.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #558: Now and Then – A Lesson from the Beatles

Right at the end of 2023, an amazing thing happened. The great movie director Peter Jackson got with Giles Martin, son of the Beatles’ producer George Martin, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr, and using ‘computer learning’, salvaged a John Lennon demo of a song called “Now and Then”.

It became a massive hit (#1 in England, 54 years after their last #1, and the same type of reception all over the world). And the video Jackson created was remarkable. Using today’s technology, it “placed” John Lennon and George Harrison alongside Paul and Ringo, and truly felt like a new Beatles song, with a message that resonated everywhere — how we miss those that we love, and how much they affect our lives.

But it also fleshed out an interesting phenomenon. Thousands of people, from 76 years old, to people 7 years old, went online or made You Tube comments about how much the Beatles changed their lives.

The reason: When you move people emotionally, when they feel like someone else is feeling the same things they’re going through, that’s when they bond with you.

I talk all the time about finding the core Emotion of a Subject, and making sure that nothing you do on the air LACKS an emotion of some sort. The Beatles – almost 60 years after we first heard them – made that case.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #557: What’s Better on the Other Side of the Radio?

Radio personalities tend to think only of what works in the Control Room, not necessarily what works better on the OTHER side of the radio – you know, the Listener’s side.

My brilliant friend John Frost and I had a challenge once in Orlando. Together, we ran five stations, one of which was a rather dormant AM station that we wanted to resurrect as a Sports Talk station.

But we didn’t have a budget to make a splash, and get people to sample this new baby that was one of the very first Sports Talk stations in that day to really open up the so-called rules. We wanted big personalities, parody commercials, a station Imaging voice (Jeff Lawrence) who was crazy inventive. But that was all just on the air. How to get noticed was the challenge.

So…

Gary “Zippy” Wallace was a budding talent, but we didn’t know where to put him, so he landed on the Sports station’s morning show as a “stunt” guy.
We worked with Krispy Kreme to give us a mountain of donuts to give away, and placed Gary at the busiest intersection in the city, by the arena where the Orlando Magic basketball team played. (They were a BIG deal then, with Shaquille O’Neal at center.) Gary had a small basketball and rim that he could hang on his chest, and when people stopped at the longest-duration stoplight I’ve ever sen, he offered them the chance to sink a basket with a nerf basketball – and if they did, they got a free donut!

Several hundred donuts later, people had something to REMEMBER about our new Sports station – and Gary Wallace.

Sometimes, the best way to connect with people is on the street, where they live and work.

What have you done OUTSIDE the studio to attract people to the station?

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.