Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #374 – Dog Chasing Its Tail

The other day, I heard a morning team launch into a subject that should have taken about ten seconds to set up, but they took 4 times that. The classic “dog chasing its own tail” scenario. Lots of activity; no real progress.

Without quoting them, let’s compare it to a movie. Where the scene description would be “Doorbell rings. Then cut to the door being opened,” we instead got the meaningless (and uninteresting) details. The wife heard the doorbell ring, then told her husband, who was chilling out on the couch, to answer it, and even though he didn’t want to, he made himself get up and do it anyway…blah, blah, blah.

Cut to the chase, for crying out loud. Remember this:

Too many words “getting started” always leads to a letdown at the end – if the listener even makes it TO the end. The impact will always be reduced, no matter what.

Doorbell rings. You answer it. WHAT HAPPENED? THAT’S the important part.

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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 #373 – Funny Isn’t the Goal

We all want to be entertaining on the air. But “funny” isn’t the only thing that entertains. And for that matter, “punch line” humor is dead, anyway.
It’s the UNEXPECTED remark that cracks people up. But great vocabulary, the ability to paint a picture, and vulnerability are all ingredients of “entertaining”, too. Think “A Christmas Story” about the kid and the B. B. gun. (God bless you, Jean Shepherd, for writing that.)

In coaching hundreds of Personality morning shows, I think these may be two of the main things I’ve learned:

1. Step One is never just to try and be funny. Step One is to be Relevant. THAT’S ALWAYS THE GOAL. Then – and only then – should you turn your sense of humor and your personality traits into something to do on the air. But if the listener can’t see himself/herself in it, then it’s just another deejay telling a joke. Ho hum. (You know, I can just click Amazon Prime on my phone or iPad and see Jim Gaffigan. He’s funnier than you.)

2. You can’t MAKE someone funny. (Partner, caller, etc.) But that can actually work, and become humorous if you put it in the right context. Use your imagination. Instead of going for a joke, go for a funny REACTION.

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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 #372 – How to Use Listener Feedback on the Air

Whenever you’ve got something working, and the phones are active, it’s important to not have responses just blend into only one ‘camera angle’. Varying emotions being expressed and BREVITY are mandatory.

Just like a great movie. Whenever the plot starts to get too familiar, or a scene lasts too long, it doesn’t work.

So…you want a different thought in each call, not just the same premise with different names or details. And all you want to use is a little one-thought “bullet” from the call. Remember that each call you air is a sound bite, and the SUM of the sound bites is the complete conversation.

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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 #371 – There’s Always Another Level

If you’ve had success, it’s easy to think that the learning process is pretty much over. But there’s always another level.

Legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix thought Eric Clapton was stunning, but Clapton thought Hendrix was miles above him. Steven Spielberg thought John Ford was the world’s best movie Director, but Spielberg’s movies will be benchmarks for generations to come.

Great ideas and new approaches are everywhere. The late night talent on a tiny station you pick up driving somewhere may do something so original that it bowls you over.

No matter how good you are, you can get better. And more importantly, you should WANT to get to yet another level. Keep trying to learn more, or you risk becoming a dinosaur.

(From my perspective, this is the essence of coaching. Helping YOU get to the next level.)

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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 #370 – It’s Not Really a Conversation

There’s what you want it to sound like; then there’s what it actually is.

“We just have a conversation with the listener.” Well…not exactly.

It’s NOT really a Conversation. Music radio is at its best is when it’s concise and at least momentarily memorable – or at the VERY least, when it doesn’t waste our time.

This thought helps; it’s NOT a conversation. It’s just an Observation with an Emotion tucked in.
Thinking this way won’t leave you frustrated if you don’t get phone or social media response. Your job is to offer things up that are incisive or entertaining. Getting a reply isn’t the real goal.

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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 #369 – A Goal Without a Plan

Football player and coach Herm Edwards said, “A goal without a plan is nothing but a dream.”

You want to get better. We all do. But how? If you don’t have a plan, you may luck into something, but probably not. And even then, you’ll be tested. Something will come up, like a hurricane, or the Coronavirus, or the Black Lives Matter movement, and you’d better have some process in place that’ll work for you. As we’ve seen, people often blurt something out that backfires on them.

Herm Edwards can tell you the answer: Coaching.
If you can’t afford coaching, ask your PD to do regular aircheck sessions with you.
If that isn’t feasible, get together with a friend – or multiple friends – and listen to great radio. Or even better, do group aircheck listening sessions in a “safe room” environment where everyone’s thoughts are considered. (Great staffs are often the result of this.)

But don’t just assume that experience alone will transform you into a top-level Talent. Like football, like golf, like playing a musical instrument, it takes work. But ours is a creative profession, so the “work” can actually be 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 #368 -Mean It

When you open that mic, the most important thing to do is what seems like the easiest one: MEAN IT.

But this is actually very difficult to do without some training. If you sound even the slightest bit insincere, or like you’re just serving up information with no real emotional investment in it…well, that’s why everyone’s impression of an air talent is that kind of pukey, surface-level-but-no-deeper “announcer guy” (or vapid nitwit).

ESPECIALLY if you’ve been blessed with an exceptional voice, remember that Emotions top “a great voice” every time. If you sound like you actually MEAN what you’re saying, your listener will feel it. If you don’t, in baseball terminology you “just fouled one off your own foot.” A lack of credibility is never anyone’s first choice.

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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 #367 – Promos: Stop Telling Me what to Think or Feel

Not long ago, I saw a TV ad for a European car, and the voiceover began with “The thrill you’ll feel when you sit down behind the wheel…”
No. I’ve driven one of those cars, and because it sits about 4 inches off the ground, I didn’t feel the “thrill,” I felt like I was getting a colorectal exam at sixty miles an hour.

This ‘telling people what they think or feel’ (or what their reaction should be) is really annoying. Al Ries and Jack Trout call it “Marketing your aspirations.”

It’s rampant in radio, too. Just this week, I heard a morning show promo that said “Great stories, and lots of laughs” (or some other bragging drivel). Not true. I heard them, and their stories were “pat” and predictable, and the farthest thing from “laughs” I could imagine. They just recycled stories from the internet, and plugged their Facebook page.

Instead of constantly telling your listeners what you WANT them to think or feel about your show or your station, just promote the Benefits of listening to you. The best show promo just plays me a clip of the show, then tags it with who you are and when you’re on.

Let the listeners decide for themselves. Let go of the hype. No one believes 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 #366 – A Tip from Paul Newman

This is a “Next Level” tip.

A lot of what I coach comes from the acting world, not specifically from radio. Last week’s tip was a thought from Marlon Brando, and then I was reminded of this great piece of advice from an appearance the great Paul Newman made on an episode of “Inside the Actors’ Studio”:

“You can’t have a dramatic pause if you always pause. You can’t get someone’s attention by being loud if you’re always loud.”

When you “stretch” yourself and get different “reads” you start pre-selecting in real time. You have CHOICES, and avoid just “doing what you always do”.

Remember: Consistency is great, but Predictability is death.

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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 #365 – A Tip from Marlon Brando

Widely considered to be the best actor ever, Marlon Brando once said a key was “Never let them catch you acting.”

There are a ton of air talents who obviously haven’t ever considered this.

Never let ‘em catch you “listening to your voice” as you speak.
Never let ‘em catch you TRYING to be funny.
Never let ‘em catch you feigning an emotion.
Never let ‘em catch the mood you were in when you were arguing with your partner a few minutes ago off-mic.
Never let ‘em catch you sounding insincere when you’re talking about something serious.

Great actors make the roles they play look effortless, the same way that Michael Jordan made it look like he could jump up and just STAY up until he felt like coming down. You never see all the insanely hard work it took to make it seem that way. We already have the phrase “Be like Mike.” I’d think “Be like Brando” too.

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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.