Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #351 – The Scarecrow or The Tin Man

The Wizard of Oz is a magical film. Ostensibly a children’s movie, it’s filled with little “morality plays” about good versus evil, the use of power, family, friendship, and the choices we all make.

To me, it boils down to The Scarecrow or the Tin Man. One wants to be smart; the other wants a heart: Brains versus Emotions.

When you think about it, the Scarecrow stands out in our minds because of what we felt about him BEFORE he got brains. The Tin Woodsman cried (which rusted him up, and made him creaky), and as children watching it, we all cried. The lesson: There’s certainly nothing wrong with Smart, but Heart matters more.

Remember this the next time you open the mic. If you’ve left your heart out of the equation, you’ve missed the boat. If I listen for an hour, and don’t learn something about how you FEEL, that was a wasted hour.

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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 #350 – Why Positivity Matters

With the way the so-called “News” is going nowadays, the easiest thing to do is to simply bring a subject up, then mock it or put a cheap punch line at the end.

But here’s the thing…radio – in ALL formats – owes the listener more than that. We’re primarily here to inform, entertain, or both. But I hear music formats that sound lifeless, Imaging in some formats that seems to be sneering in their delivery, “Content” that’s just celebrity gossip flotsam and jetsam, and Talk Radio shows that are just “adopting a posture” and spouting the same one-sided opinions every day.

Radio isn’t dead by any means, but it is largely lacking the one thing it should provide: Positivity. Simply put, it’s a “glass half full” undercurrent, even to things that aren’t necessarily “happy” in nature. Maybe it’s just sounding like you CARE with your delivery. Maybe it’s rejecting the easy-but-negative joke about something. Or maybe it starts with just saying the name of the station like you’re actually proud of it.

In coaching sessions every week, I push air talent to challenge themselves to not settle for the cutting comment, and to COMPEL THE LISTENER TO COME BACK FOR MORE. Even a negative emotion can be expressed in a positive way. (Example: “Normally, I’m not a huge fan of hers…but I LOVE this song…”)

That’s all it takes. So make an effort. Or just continue to let streaming services and Sirius/XM siphon off your listeners. It quite literally is up to you. C’mon, let’s have some fun!

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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 #349 – Revisiting the Apple Credo

Here’s a little tidbit I heard and wrote about years ago, but it bears revisiting.

The story is that Steve Jobs, in an Apple “think tank” meeting, challenged everyone with three questions:
• What would be cool?
• What would be fun?
• What would benefit the life of the customer?

If you want a real “mission statement”, that’s it. And it directly applies to radio. If we’re always thinking “What would be cool?” “What would be fun?” and “What would benefit the life of the listener?” we can’t go wrong.

I would back this up with three questions of my own:
• Does your station even think about this?
• If not, why not?
• And how long do you want to totally miss the whole point of even HAVING a radio station in the first place? 🤪

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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 #348 – Don’t Get Too Far Off the Subject

As you develop your storytelling skills, be wary of getting too far off the subject.

I recall a Yankees vs. Twins baseball game a couple of seasons ago. The difference between the Yankees broadcast team (all of whom are excellent) and the Minnesota Twins broadcasters was never more evident than when a Twins announcer – during an inning – talked ad nauseum to a lady with a bird refuge. ???

I was dumbfounded. It served no purpose whatsoever. A way off target “human interest” interview that went nowhere and had me shouting at the TV. The only thing I could think to ask her that would have been relevant to baseball is “Remember when Randy Johnson exploded that seagull?”

(You Tube it if you haven’t seen it.)

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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 #347 – It’s Always About the Story

It’s ALWAYS about the Story.

I remember a couple of seasons ago, a contestant on “Survivor” told about his getting back home after the show was taped just in time to see his mom before she passed away. Time just STOPPED as I imagined that scenario in my own life. (This is just one reason why Survivor has lasted so long.)

YOUR responsibility as an air talent is to make the story as concise and as easy and logical sounding as you possibly can. Survivor is the best-edited show in the history of television; a perfect model for film editors and writers…and storytellers.

You’ll know a great break, a great story, when it takes virtually NO editing to make a promo out of it.

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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 #346 – Never Fear Bombing

Years ago, when I was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, I found myself sitting with an entire roomful of radio legends. All sorts of “war stories” were flying around that room, and although there was an incredibly wide range of differing personalities, it seemed like we all had one thing in common:

Never Fear Bombing.

Every mistake you make will lead to getting better, because no one wants to make the same mistake a second time.

As a talent coach, I WANT you to jump, THEN see if there’s water in the pool. “Playing it safe” is for people who don’t have very much talent.

Now obviously, you shouldn’t do something that will get you in trouble with a client or the FCC. But those are the only cautions. DO something! TODAY.

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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 #345 — The Opt-In World

My friend and partner John Frost posted this advisory recently:

Frost Advisory #491 – We live in an OPT-IN world

There is a phone in our home that we never answer. Seriously. A constant barrage of robo-calls and “Anonymous” caller ID’s has left that phone to be no more than a nuisance. In fact, we no longer even listen to the voice mails because of so much time wasted checking them.

We live in an OPT-IN world, defined by Merriam-Webster online dictionary as “to choose to do or be involved in something.” If I didn’t give you permission to communicate with me then your efforts, automated as they be, will be met with an unanswered ring.

While you may not have directly asked your listeners to OPT IN, ultimately they have. They have expectations. They have experiences with your station perhaps they desire to have again.

Maybe they heard something, felt something, or realized something that they wouldn’t have without your radio station in their life.

So….have your listeners OPTED IN for songs they don’t know by artists they’ve never heard of, deejays that talk too much, traffic reports for traffic they’re not in, or newscasts about politics and bad things happening to people?

The more you do what your listeners have OPTED IN for, the more impact you’ll have.

John Frost, Partner
Goodratings Strategic Services
561-625-4211 office
561-676-5559 cell

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John and I have worked together for almost 25 years, and he never fails to inspire. Let me add another camera angle to his tip – what it means to YOU as an air talent.

The question to ask yourself is “Do I opt in?” Think about it. Have you opted in to carrying out the Strategy of your station? Have you opted in for the work ethic it requires to really give it your best effort every day?

Show Prep, Performance, Awareness of what the unspoken bargain is with your listeners – if you don’t choose to opt in for the best performance you can give, why would you expect to be rewarded for it, in terms of the all-important Time Spent Listening?

We’re at the start of a New Year. It could be the best year you’ve ever had in connecting with the listener. Or it could be just another year of not really doing what you’re capable of to EARN the listener’s time. Do you opt in to being great, or are you in danger of being just another “Voice Saying Words”?

Here’s the good news: it’s actually easier – FAR easier – to do great radio than it is to do “average” radio. Read the Frost Advisories, my tips, and the Mason Morning Minute each week at www.goodratings.com, and you’ll see how easy it is to make the listener opt in to your show every day.

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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 #344 – Why “Crunch and Roll” is Essential

It’s a Top 40 “basic” mechanic: “Crunch & Roll,” which means that in a song-to-song music sweep, you want to hit the NEXT song, THEN talk, not “start early” over the end of the first song, and then continue blabbing over the intro of the next song.

It matters because when that next song begins, then you start, it “turns the page” – meaning that the listener can FEEL the Forward Movement. (Momentum.)

When you start early, we don’t feel that page turn. No momentum. And a station without good forward flow will get beat by a station that HAS it almost every time. There are some exceptions, but very few.

This concentration on Momentum (not pace; that’s a different thing) is most evident in the movie world, where George Lucas and Steven Spielberg ushered in a totally new era in the seventies with movies that ALWAYS churned relentlessly forward. (Think Star Wars, or Raiders of the Lost Ark.)

Never get so “comfortable” that you forget about Momentum. The world moves ahead faster all the time. (Remember your first cell phone; your first computer? Ick.)

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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 #343 – A Lesson from Author Sandra Brown

If you’ve never read any of the red-hot thriller novels of Sandra Brown, you’ve missed out on a truly gifted storyteller. My wife and I have read dozens of her books, and since radio is essentially storytelling in microcosm, you might learn something from this comment recently in her book ‘Standoff’, which is a short book she wrote for a Book Club. She said it was daunting because most of the action takes place in a confined space, adding “With each book, I challenge myself to try something I’ve never tried before. Can I pull this off? This self-imposed fear factor is a positive thing. It stimulates creativity and urges me to step outside comfortable boundaries. It makes each book different. Most important, it keeps readers from getting tired of the same ol’ same ol’.”

YES. EXACTLY. You should ALWAYS be willing to try something new; something you haven’t done before. This is something I push every air talent I work with to do, and I usually have to prod them once or twice a year to KEEP doing.

Honestly, when it comes to Talent Coaching, this is essential. As you’ve heard from me many times in these tips, Consistency is fine, but Predictability is Death. You’ve got to turn things upside down once in a while and shake them until change falls out of their pockets. When you stop trying new things, you stop making progress.

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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 #342 – The Odds

We’re in a world of numbers now. Sabermetrics dominate Sports. Take baseball, for example. “He hits .372 against lefthanded pitchers with men on third base and less than two out when it’s raining…”

Well, okay…but that’s not predictive. It’s just a measurement of what ALREADY happened.

The REAL odds are this: every time you step up to the plate, it’s 50/50. You’ll get a hit, or you won’t. This MATTERS, and it’s why Sports is such a great teacher, because every player or team will have its day sometimes, no matter what the percentages say.

You’ve got an incredible opportunity in radio, because every time you open the mic, the odds are dead even. You have a really good chance of saying something that’s cool, entertaining, or informative – not just “blah”. (Queen called it “Radio Ga Ga.”)

To continue the baseball analogy, you can’t get a hit if you don’t swing the bat. TRY SOMETHING. Phrase it uniquely, or come up with a “camera angle” that’s NOT like every other air talent would say.

If you do, you’ll have a great career. If not, you’ll just be a noise in the background.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.