Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #450: Show, Visit, or Nothing

Ideally, you’re doing a Show. (Not just a ‘shift’.)

But at least, you should do a Visit.

…and if you’re just reading liners, promoting stuff, and intro’ing songs, you’re doing….nothing.

As I wrote about in the last tip, the goal should be both a Visit AND a Show. That’s what I coach, because historically, that’s what works the best. The combination of both of those elements will compel people to listen.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2022 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #449: Another Lesson from George Carlin

It would be hard, if not impossible, for any comedian to even remotely approach the vast volume of material that George Carlin had. One of his pieces is a real lesson for radio (which is where George began his career, in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana). The routine was about “saving the planet,” with George pointing out that “The planet will outlive you, and will heal itself.”

But he had an interesting take on how that piece affected his performance, saying “That piece was very thoughtful, and very interesting, and I loved it, but I had to learn that there were times in the show when it was okay NOT to get laughs. Because one of the jobs I have besides getting laughs is to engage the imagination. If I make them laugh along the way, that’s part of the deal for me.”

That’s part of the deal for you, too.

If all you have to offer is “funny,” you’re going to be one-dimensional. If a plane flies into a building again, no one’s going to turn to you for your thoughts on it. A show needs changes of gear and depth, at least some of the time, to become great.

I was fortunate to be half of a team show in Houston (“Hudson & Harrigan”) that was known for laughs – lots of them – but we could do sincere and down-to-earth, too.

If you don’t have those elements, you need some coaching.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2022 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip $448: The First Step Up

In coaching young air talent, there’s always that moment when you assess what their specific gift is – that one thing that stands out about each person – and you have to find a way to broaden their vision.

That’s when the first challenge is issued – to become more consistent. Anyone can have a good hour or a good show, but getting that to be EVERY hour, EVERY day, is “the first step up.”

Some people think the work is done with a good week, or a good month. But that’s just scratching the surface. Take any TV show that runs for years, and you see this challenge met. The first episode hopefully makes people like the show, and want to see it again. But it also sets a standard of what the viewer expects FROM the show every time they tune in.
It’s the same in radio, and “raising the bar” is the first hurdle. And it all starts with Content. Since you can’t do the same thing every day (“benchmarks” aside), you have to reinvent how you approach the show. The Beatles didn’t just stop with “She Loves You.” Only three years later, they did the “Sgt. Pepper” album. Then along came further experiments, instrumentation, and nuances. There’s a huge distance between “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

So…work on your craft, EVERY SINGLE DAY. As my friend and associate Alan Mason says, “Good enough….isn’t.”

You want to be Consistent, yes, but you also want to be consistently GOOD.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2022 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #447: The Touchstone Factor

A touchstone is something that serves as a conduit between two people. It connects them. I touch this end, you touch that end.

Content on the air is exactly the same – or it fails. If something you talk about is something I can identify with, or see myself doing, that “touchstone” is a winner.

So ask yourself this question: Why would you talk about something that’s only about you?

If I’m not in the picture (as a listener), you’re not going to be very successful.

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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 #446 — Momentum: What it Really Means

Momentum is defined in the dictionary as “force or speed of movement; impetus,” with these examples:

The car gained momentum going downhill.
Her career lost momentum after two unsuccessful films.

I wonder whether most radio stations understand this. I hear “pace” often – but not necessarily any momentum. Pace is just going faster or slower. That’s not momentum.

Technically, it’s when one thing seamlessly flows into another. But Content-wise, it’s also about your listeners feeling that something is going on – something that compels them to hear more of your show (or your station). THAT’S when you have momentum.

I’ve learned a lot of ways to inject momentum into formatics, and the mechanics of how to construct and run the various elements so “the big wheel keeps on turning,” and those definitely do help turn stations around. But momentum as a Personality, and within a show, is a deeper dive.

That’s why concentrating on pace is an incomplete thought, and focusing on ratings is always the wrong focus. You have to create an entity that defines momentum – an inexorable forward flow – first. Then the ratings will come.

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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 $445: Reinventing the Wheel

It seems like sometimes the message is, “We’re not reinventing the wheel here.”

I always thought, “Why not?”

You could argue that the wheel is the perfect example of something that’s only stayed around as long as it has BECAUSE it’s been continually reinvented. (Nobody’s having to stop and put a patch on an inner tube on their Mustang Mach-E these days.)

How this applies to music radio:

In the early 1950s, Todd Storz in Kansas City and Gordon McLendon in Dallas got away from what was, up until then, “block programming” or “middle of the road” music to try a new idea: Top 40. Wheel, meet new wheel.

Some years later, people wanted to hear more than just the “hit singles”, so Album Rock was born. New wheel.

Modern Country, Smooth Jazz, Progressive Rock, Rap, Hip-hop…new wheels.

And look at the growth of Contemporary Christian Radio, with stations like KLTY in Dallas, birthed by “Brother” Jon Rivers – who, years before, had worked for Gordon McLendon at KNUS. (And the wheel goes ‘round.)

Each of these changes was dictated by what people wanted, and smart people reinventing radio to accommodate that. As the world changed, the tastes and preferences changed. More things had to be invented and reinvented to feed them.

Now we have the digital “wheel”, and are thinking up new ways to use the digital and social media world in my client stations.

ALWAYS reinvent the wheel. If you’re not trying to innovate, to come up with new ideas, always diving deeper into how to make someone want to come back and listen again, you’re just patching an inner tube for a tire you have to put on a Hupmobile in 1920.

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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 #444: Everything is Local, or It’s Not

Sometimes, in an effort to seem “bigger,” we lose focus.

Here’s a question for you: If I hear your station for the first time, does it sound and feel local, or not? (And I’m not talking about street names. I mean things that we share with the listener, things that the listener can picture himself or herself going through, too.)

If you don’t feel local – personal – then you’re generic. (Think generic food, as opposed to “brand name” food. “Corn chips” don’t translate the same as “Fritos.”)

Local = emotional engagement.

Generic = who cares?

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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 #443: The 3 Questions

(This is a companion piece to Tip #24, “The 5 Subjects.”)

With any piece of Content, ask yourself these three questions:

1. Why is this on? “Because it’ll be funny” shouldn’t be the primary reason. Lots of shows are fairly funny at times, but aren’t really connective or transformative.

2. Where am I going with it? Think of an Ending FIRST, then figure out how to start it, and then how to shape it. This doesn’t kill spontaneity; it clarifies it and cleans it up. When you know where you’re going, you go in more of a straight line.

3. What does this mean to the listener – TODAY? If something you say actually resonates with me, I’m more likely to come back and listen to you again. But if it’s just generic “any day” Content, or flimsy jokes based on “click bait” postings, you’re probably not going to have much of an audience.

You earn the listener’s attention one connection at a time.

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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 $442: Be More Than Just a Playlist

Since there are so many places to get the music now, you have to be more than just a playlist.

COMPANIONSHIP (especially in the car) is still really important.
PERSONALITY should be mandatory in EVERY daypart.
There should be “something going on” ALL the time, in every hour of the show – both “station things” and your own Content.

What you have in common with the Listener is what binds you together. If you’re generic, you’re invisible.

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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 #441: The Simplest Possible Way

The more words are used, the less the Personality stands out. The more complicated a Promotion or Contest is, the less effective it is. Keeping things simple from a formatic perspective should be married to keeping things as simple as possible in coaching talent, so they can perform in a way that truly resonates with the listener.

My methods, and the formatics I recommend are all about keeping it simple so there’s more “meat” in the Content – and even in the STYLE of the Content. Our job in the coaching arena is to make it EASY to sound consistently top-notch every day.

Poisonous things can slip in – too many words in a forecast, the name of the station redundantly said again by rote at the end of a break (taking away any possibility of the First Exit that surprises the listener), goofy names for promotions that don’t tell us what the Promotion or Contest IS, reading crappy liners (that the station Imaging voice should read, if you simply must do them), etc. Guard against these.

It’s not just “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” It’s “Keep it simple or I listen to something else.”

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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.