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.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #409: A Lesson in Greatness – Robert W. Walker

Radio used to be populated by “big” voices, guys with a cannonlike delivery who ANNOUNCED or PRESENTED things.

But then it changed, and one of the best examples of how is my friend Robert W. Walker. Rob didn’t have a huge voice, but it was an ultra-easy-to-listen-to voice. He wasn’t “jokey” funny, but his insights (especially when he made himself the butt of the joke) were often hilarious. He pulled you in toward him. It seemed intimate, one-on-one.

He also was a brilliant writer and Production talent. Some of his station promos raised chill bumps when you heard them.

But I would classify his main talent as something that sounds very simple: People just LIKED him. He was what everyone in radio thinks they could sound like, but not that many actually can.

I think there are two main things to learn from Rob:
1. Never underestimate being likable.
2. Never think about your voice. Just be 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 #408: The Opposite

Sometimes, something 180 degrees away is what works best. You can’t do it all the time, but it’s one of the first things that I consider. Here are three examples.

1. The opposite of what anyone would think: Homer Simpson, “If Jesus had a gun, he’d be alive today.” (I thought I’d fall off the couch when I heard that.)

2. Wally, on Contemporary Christian Music network WAY-FM: instead of automatically playing an artist’s songs when he’d have that artist on as a guest, he’d do “Win it to Spin it,” meaning that the artist had to do some challenge in less time than Wally did it in order to get his/her song played. One I remember was when he had a singer form a pyramid of Spam “cakes” – without using his HANDS! (The guy had to stack them up into a pyramid with his MOUTH. Ewww! Hilarious on the air, and as a You Tube video.)

3. Once when I was on the air, my boss wanted me to do an all-request hour every Friday night. After doing it the “plain vanilla” way a couple of times, I went in exactly the opposite direction, saying “This is an all-request hour, but I’M doing all the requesting.” Totally unexpected, I had more people call in when they COULDN’T make a request than when they could. (A couple of weeks later, when I got a novelty album with 20 different versions of the song “Louie Louie”, I started the hour with “You can request any song you want…as long as it’s ‘Louie Louie’.” Believe me, there’s nothing funnier than hearing an “anthem” song done in Mariachi band style, or as a waltz…or hearing the same song requested for an entire hour.)

Try the Opposite once in a while. It opens up brand new roads.

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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 #407: The Rule of Three is now the Rule of Two

The old comedy axiom is that the 3rd time gets the biggest laugh: watch any old sitcom or comedy movie and you see it over and over. Something gets a laugh. A few minutes later, it gets repeated, and gets another laugh. Finally, much later, there’s a “call-back” and it gets said again, and that’s the “big” laugh. That’s the Rule of Three.

But now, that’s outdated. Everyone’s attention span is shorter now. The Rule of Three doesn’t apply anymore. Now it’s just 1, 2 instead of 1, 2, 3. To sound like TODAY, you need to shorten that rhythm of yesterday. If you do it a third time now, it usually just sounds like you’re trying too hard. (Or maybe it doesn’t even make sense, because Time Spent Listening is so much shorter now.)

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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 #406: A Lesson from Alex Trebek

Watching ‘Jeopardy’ these days is strange for the millions of people of all ages who grew up watching Alex Trebek emcee the show. First, Ken Jennings, the greatest contestant of all time, hosted. Then the Producer of the show, Mike Richards, came in with his “Don Draper” looks and professionalism. Then Katie Couric, enthusiastic, but…

While we know a little about Jennings and a lot about Couric (but in another setting), we knew a lot more about Alex. He loved travel, his pride in Canada was cute, and just the WAY he conducted the show spoke volumes about his respect for what could have been just another Game Show.

Think about that. Why was it different with Alex? Why didn’t the guest hosts capture us like Trebek did?

Because, over time, we learned about Alex, from his appearance to his demeanor, and through the pancreatic cancer diagnosis and treatment that told us all about his dedication to his job. The way he kept the show moving, but knew when to slow it down and elicit stories from the contestants, tease them, applaud them.

Now think about your audience, and their relationship with you. IS there one? Are you doing anything worth their time? Do you know when to keep it moving? Is there anything happening that shares a little about you and your attitude toward doing your job, and how does that compare to an Alex Trebek?

He’ll be remembered by many as the guy who was so universal that he was parodied for YEARS on Saturday Night Live – a show that prides itself on being about THIS week. Would your listenership even notice it if you left?

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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 #405: Meet the Listener Where He/She Lives

The whole key to Content is one simple thought – “tethering” the Subject to the Listener. You have to meet her or him where they live.

Just recently, I watched an old “Andy Griffith Show” rerun about a Mayberry High School reunion. It touched everything I felt about my own reunion, how it reawakens old feelings, puts things in perspective, etc. (Andy saw his High School girlfriend, wondered why they drifted apart, then realized why when they got into an argument over staying in Mayberry as a “big fish is a small pond” instead of her moving to Chicago to compete in a larger arena.)

Over the years of watching what are now classic sitcoms, two names keep coming up: Everett Greenbaum and Jim Fritzell. Name any big show in that era – Andy Griffith, M*A*S*H, Mary Tyler Moore show, etc. – and they wrote episodes for it.
They had the knack of writing something very particular to each character, but framed by what the viewer had in common with them.

That’s your challenge, too. If you need help, get some coaching. This is an Art, not just a technique.

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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 #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.