Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #384 – Choose ONE

In a recent session, I went over a break the air talent had done with a nice message: how just saying “hi” to someone who’s been emotionally damaged or mistreated may be ‘revolutionary’ to that person.

But he loaded it down with too many examples before settling on that one gesture. There’s a tendency for us to be like lawyers, “stacking up evidence” to fortify our point. But you’re not paid by the example; you’re paid by the CONNECTION.

So whenever you could give a “laundry list” of examples, just choose one to draw a smaller, more precise target for the Emotion to center on.

A closer “sphere of vision” will bring out the more personal, visual, and emotional elements in your Content and its delivery.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #383 – Nothing is Worse than Being Ignored

One of the main things to keep in mind for any air talent is something that strikes to our very core as human beings: nothing is worse than being ignored.

If you’re on the air, but nothing you do or say really “grabs” the listener, it’s a waste of time.

Here’s a litmus test: What stood out today about your show? (Or any day’s show, for that matter?) You should be able to think “Oh yeah, yesterday was when we did this…”

If you can’t recall something memorable from your show, neither can the listener. We all know about stations who’ve been in a market for years, but with no real success. Let’s not be one of them.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #382 – Memories and Shared Experiences

When you do something on the air that makes the listener think “Me too,” you hit the jackpot. Memories and shared experiences aren’t just about what happened and when it happened. They’re about the Emotions that people feel when they go (or went) through them.

This is why “interesting” isn’t the same as “relevant”.

When you tap into Emotions, you gain DEPTH.

Most of the subpar shows are just about things, data, facts, and “fluff” srories. These are almost always boring. But when an emotion is called up, people “lean in” with their ears.

Emotions are the goal of everything that we do.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #381 – What you CAN do that TV CAN’T do

One of the main arguments against radio today is that “people would rather watch TV.” Or stare at a computer, tablet, or cell phone screen. For our purposes, let’s just use TV as an example.

I watch an NBA game, and BETWEEN TWO FREE THROWS (!) they run a commercial. (The game itself, of course, is shrunk down so that my 70-inch screen might just as well be the 24-inch screen I had in 1988.) This is SO invasive. Announcers in every sport talk right up to the moment a pass or pitch is thrown. And baseball has been so ruined by TV directors that you see a pitcher, then – in the middle of his windup – they change cameras to show the batter, then another switch is flipped and you see a player field the ball. They could all be from separate games, and you wouldn’t even know it. And NFL games? Don’t even start. TV directors are so intent on “filling the screen” that you can see the pores of a quarterback’s face. I want to see more of the field (or court) so I can see where each player IS, and what they’re doing.

Here’s where radio is still magic: we’re not bound by what the Director decides to show. We can create “word pictures” that those screaming, big-voiced announcers don’t seem able to do, and we don’t have to listen to some broken-down ex-player describe things in such minute detail and in terminology that we don’t understand. We can do whatever we want to make something visceral and emotional.

But only IF:

*You’re not just some idiot reading crap off a computer screen with no emotional investment in what you’re saying.
*Or you’re not just endlessly intro’ing artists and song titles. (BORING.)
*Or what you’re talking about is timely, and connects with the listener’s life.

You have everything you need to succeed and be a true Personality, someone who seems like a good friend…someone I (as a listener) want to hear give your “take” on a subject.

I get asked a lot about what one thing I’d say to someone who hasn’t “gotten it” yet, and the answer is always the same: WAKE UP and say something worth hearing. Don’t let TV and Facebook be more valuable than radio, because there’s no way they can be as entertaining and as personal as you.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #380 – A Tip from Acting Teacher Roy London

If you’ve worked with me or read any significant amount of my stuff, you know that a lot of what I coach comes from the acting world. Although he only lived to be 50 years old, Roy London has been a heavy influence on me. A fine actor himself, over the last fifteen years of his life, Mr. London became one of the premier acting teachers in Hollywood, a profound influence on the likes of Sharon Stone, Jeff Goldblum, Hank Azaria, Geena Davis, and Garry Shandling, just to name a few.

One of London’s main tenets is “It’s all about Love. Every choice comes from trying to connect with Love.”

Man, that is spot-on. While some radio talents have had success being negative and snarky, the ones that most people hold dear are the ones who are consciously trying to connect on a human level. And Love is the highest of human values.

Carry this forward. Even if you joke about someone, make sure that it’s always coming from a loving place. Garry Shandling illustrated this perfectly, describing the relationships between his character on “The Larry Sanders Show” (which I think may have been the best show ever on American television) and his Ed McMahon-like sidekick “Hank Kingsley” (played by the wonderful Jeffrey Tambor). Shandling said a line such as “You’re an idiot” couldn’t be delivered like he hated Hank. Instead, it carried a “but I still love you” vibe – and if hadn’t, it wouldn’t have worked. It was important that we understood that the two characters had a mutual love and respect, even when one of them acted like a moron.

Listen to your show. Is this coming across? Or are you just another tiresome jock looking for someone or something to be the butt of a joke?

The answer will define your career.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #379 – Why Your Slogan Can Mess Up the Air Talent

My brilliant friend and associate John Frost recently heard a station that used the slogan “We Actually Care.”

These people are obviously…well, stupid. As a coach, this concerns me, because the air talent that has to live UP to what the station says about itself is virtually crippled by it.

First of all, the only possible inference of that phrase is that they’re better than the stations that DON’T “actually” care. (But I’m not familiar with any station that has “We Actually Don’t Care” as their slogan.)

Second, there’s a language lesson in this – let’s call it “the unnecessary adverb” rule. The word “actually” is superfluous, and doesn’t strengthen anything.

But third — and most important — how is the air talent supposed to back this up? The result, if they even try, will be sugary soap opera-ish B. S. that has little chance of any real success.

Be wary of what your “Positioning Statement” says. If it’s just “marketing your aspirations” or nebulous word salad, it’ll just lie there flat.

This is why I don’t believe in positioning statements at all. Let your ACTIONS define your station, and simply let your NAME be the Brand. Be clear that an IDENTIFIER, like “The Classic Rock Station…92.5 KZPS” is fine, but let’s get away from meaningless “sloganeering”.

Then the air talent can “Actually” just pour effort into being relevant and entertaining. What a concept.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #378 – The Boulder in the Lobby

If you listen to the air staff, way too many stations nowadays have what I call “a boulder in the lobby.”

“The PD has no power, so we can’t do things we want to do.”
“The wrong people DO have power, so the best ideas can’t even get heard.”
“The GM is just a Sales Guy, and doesn’t understand Programming.”
“The new owner is just a financial guy, and doesn’t know anything about radio.”

In one station I worked at, a person they hired to fill a key position lived on a houseboat, and bathed in a lake. He always smelled like catfish dung. It got so bad that several coworkers left various deodorants on his DESK, and many complained to the boss – who did nothing about it. Slowly but surely, people left the station. I know that sounds kind of gross, but it happened.

So here’s the deal: as a Talent, when you come into the station every day, you have a decision to make. You can walk around whatever the “boulder” is and give it your best effort to do radio that’s worth listening to. Or you can go work somewhere else.

What you should NOT do is stick around, but have a grousing or negative attitude.

New York Yankee great Joe DiMaggio, in his last season, once ran hard on painful bone spurs to make a difficult catch. Mickey Mantle (who was in right field as a rookie) told Joe that he needn’t have done it because Mickey had it in his sights. But DiMaggio answered, “There’s always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time; I owe him my best.”

So do you.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #377 – The Film Editor’s Eye

In the movie world, a lot rests on the Film Editor’s “eye”.

“Errors of continuity” – like a shirt tucked in one moment, then untucked in the next shot, then a moment later it’s tucked in again – can ruin the film. The Editor is always on the lookout for things that, somewhere in the brain, just don’t “add up”. Those little things destroy credibility.

I hear the same type of things all the time in radio, but of course, they’re spoken rather than pictured. For example:

An air talent refers to something that I wouldn’t have a clue about unless I was listening 15 minutes ago.

Or a jock goes to a contestant or a caller and says “Hi, Marsha…” How did you already know her name? Not logical.

The jock says “Jennifer tripped over it….” Who’s Jennifer? Your wife? Your daughter? Your dog?

Keep in mind that my timeline (as a listener) isn’t the same as yours. Don’t assume that I know what you’re referencing.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #376 – Be a Part OF the Music

What really works in any field isn’t much about finding something completely new as it is about finding a way to build on something old, but making it better. We’ve had phones forever, for instance. But the Blackberry, then the iPhone changed what we can do with them – and what we now EXPECT from them.

The point is, there’s a tendency to categorically reject “old” ideas, and that’s often the biggest mistake. Radio is making one now. With all the technology we have available, and all the “sabermetric” data we now use, we’ve largely lost one thing that used to be the core of every great station – the connection to the music we play. Simply put, I rarely hear a station anymore that respects the music at ALL.

Imaging pieces blare right over the last word of a “cold”-end song. Fades are either ignored, where the air talent jumps in too soon, or the other extreme, where the song dies out completely. Or a “cold” end song ends abruptly, and then there’s dead air. The computer’s running everything. The talent is asleep at the wheel.

It’s not cured by something as simple as putting the cue tones in the right place (although this is ESSENTIAL). It’s also about a sensibility that we want to be PART OF the music, not have the music just be noise that plays until we make our next ‘brilliant’ remark.

If you don’t show an awareness of the music you’re playing – not just the lyrical content or little trivia pieces about the artists, but the “vibe” that song creates – you’re only giving the listener a “playlist” with jibber-jabber thrown in.

Remember, the listener can go to iTunes or You Tube or Amazon Music, etc. and get the music WITHOUT YOU. Be part OF it, and it’s just a lot easier to connect.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #375 – The “Chopped” Criteria

“Chopped” – the TV show on The Food Network – wasn’t in my sphere of awareness until just a couple of years ago. My wife is addicted to watching people compete in this cooking competition where contestants are asked to take “basket ingredients” like yak thighs, pine cones, elderberry stems, and the bumper from a 1964 Buick, and make a meal out of them.

It’s fun, and the competition is serious, presented in a “steel cage gladiator death match” format. But since I’m always looking for ways to help people sound better, what resonates with me is the “Chopped” criteria: Presentation, Taste, and Creativity.

In radio terms, you can always work on Presentation – even when the goal is to avoid sounding “presentational”.

Taste is any easy one. It’s mirroring the taste of your listener. You’re “cooking” for her or him.

And Creativity is simply the biggest dividing line in radio. If you haven’t found your creative “muscle” yet, listen to great stations, read great books, watch great movies. Soak it up. Just like you would that redeye gravy that girl from Louisiana just made on Chopped. Yum.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.