Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #331 – The Best Thing You Can Hear…and Do

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also made for great musicians, explorers, writers, painters, and radio staffs.

When you have a bunch of people who are all continuously curious about how to get better, you have lightning in a bottle. And you can feel it in the hallways. It shows on the air. And people listen to you simply because they WANT to. You don’t have to dangle a lot of incentives in front of them, although contests are fun. You don’t have to pander to them and compliment them all the time – especially not for their good taste in listening to you. And you don’t have to worry about what your competition is doing, because if you’re talented and still working to get better, the other guys are already dead men walking.

Give me the people who come up with ideas for better systems, who want to try something on the air they haven’t done before, and want to have FUN doing their jobs.

But here’s the deal: every person you have who doesn’t think like this holds you back. Hire wisely. Interview the person, not the job posting. Find the ones who want to help you do GREAT radio. Then coach them up.

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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.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #330 – Avoiding California Airhead Language

“And I was like…”
“Then she was like…”
“So I was like…”

Like what? Like someone who never passed seventh grade English?

“She was TOTALLY not going there…” (Could she partially go there?)
“I’m SO doing that…” (Well, all I can say is “You SO sound like a dolt.”)

Look, I’m all about “street language” and I definitely don’t think we should speak “The King’s English” – but we need to sound like we’re not 14-year California airheads.

Here’s why: Someday, a plane might fly into another building. Or another “quiet guy” is going to walk into a mall and start shooting people. And when that happens, you want people to take you seriously if you’re going to comment on it. Radio is about having fun, and being topical; but at times, it’s also about being CREDIBLE.

Note to anyone in California: feel free to do all the Texas and Louisiana jokes you want. (Louisiana is my home state. Texas is where I spent the majority of my adult life.)

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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.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #329 – Check Your Online/App Streaming

Here’s a question for you: Have you listened to your station’s online streaming lately?
Chances are, it pretty much blows.

Most of the time, I record station audio to use for coaching sessions. And it’s amazing how many stations promote how you can “take us to work with you” or “keep up with us with the app” when in reality, the signal crashes without any warning whatsoever. Or the app makes us jump through hoops, pushing multiple buttons or wading through “join our music team” come-ons, before we finally just get to what we want – the audio.

And even then, it seems like stations have a budget of about three dollars for the QUALITY of the audio signal, so it’s only a little better than listening to the station through a tin can. Even something as simple as volume levels can be either insanely low or REALLY LOUD by default.

So look, if you’re going to take the trouble to stream online or have an app, make sure that it delivers the very best audio, with the least hassle, that you can provide. Otherwise, it I try it the first time and it’s a drag, I’m not going to try it a second time. Life’s too short. I can noodle around with my fantasy football team instead. And my wife will probably just turn it off and start surfing Etsy or Pinterest.

As in all facets of radio, BE WORTH IT when someone comes to you.

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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.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #328 – What You Can Learn From Ron Jacobs

Back in the heyday of Top 40 radio, there were a handful of stations that became the icons; the stations we wanted to work at, or at least have our station sound like.

One of the giants was KHJ in Los Angeles, a Drake-Chenault consulted station with the brilliant Ron Jacobs as its Program Director.

Jacobs had three primary rules:
Preparation.
Concentration.
Moderation.

Preparation: Being absolutely sure of what this break was going to be about. Working on your “camera angle”, your vocabulary, and putting things in the right order, so information or a story unfolded in the easiest-sounding way.

Concentration: No distractions, no second thoughts at the last minute, no stumbling around verbally.

Moderation: Staying “in the pocket” and not trying to do too much, or add details that don’t matter, or take too much of the listener’s time.

If this worked for some of the greatest air talents of an entire generation, it certainly can work for you, too. And these principles would be such a breath of fresh air in today’s voice-tracked, kind of distanced sound that we hear on way too many stations. WORK ON YOUR CRAFT. Radio is NOT dead – but bad radio is.

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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.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #327 – A Shoe Store With No Shoes

My friend and associate John Frost and I have one huge pet peeve – when we walk into a client station and can’t hear it playing in the building.

When we ask why this is so (and we do), we get these really lame answers:

“People are working, and the music distracts them.”

“We want people doing their jobs, not just listening to the radio.”

“The people in the office can’t talk to each other if the station is on.”

And the one I found most insane – “You can hear it in the bathroom.” (Wow! Let’s all go in there!)

No one wants to walk into a shoe store that has no shoes. If I can’t hear your station in the lobby or in the hallway, apparently you don’t have one worth listening to.

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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.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #326 – Where’s the Benefit?

Stations that are only an assemblage of “Attributes” are just ducks quacking into a strong wind. You’ve heard these so-called “Positioning” claims: “50-Minute Music Hours,” “12 in a Row,” “Commercial-free hours,” etc. What programmers fail to realize is that there’s no real Benefit to any of these claims, because we all know that at some point, we’re going to pay for these with an incomprehensibly long clot of commercials. And “commercial-free” isn’t true anyway if you run promos or recorded liners between songs, because SURPRISE!…those are thought of as COMMERCIALS for you.

There needs to be some Benefit to the Listener in whatever you promote – or talk about on the air. If there isn’t one, I (as a listener) don’t care – and I’m not going to do whatever it is that you want me to do.

“Well, that tells people what we are.” No, it doesn’t. It tells people that you’re grasping for something that’s not capable of being owned anymore (if it ever was). Spotify, Pandora, Amazon music, iTunes music, and You Tube are alternative places to get all the music you play – and more – without having to hear you quack.

Offer something tangible. How does what you’re doing benefit my life? How is it unique? Until you can answer those questions, you’re not really offering anything except slogans. Ewww.

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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.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #325 – The Conversation

Several times in these tips, I’ve referred to being on the air as like having a conversation with a friend. But of course, someone who’s just tuning into your show for the first time isn’t a friend – yet.

So if you want to pull that person toward you, follow these two guidelines religiously:

1. Never go so fast that you lose being conversational.

And…

2. Never let the conversation go longer than it should.

It’s pretty obvious that people are tired of fast-talking deejays (particularly in the voice-tracking arena) who don’t sound engaged with us at all. And in coaching somewhere over 1700 people over the years, I’d guess that maybe – MAYBE – one percent of them have a good sense of “how much is too much.” (Hint: “too much” = a lot less than you might think.)

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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.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #324 – The 2 Fastest Ways to Lose the Listener

There are two things that will make someone tune OUT fast:

1. Playing a song he or she doesn’t like. This is why you should definitely want to do music research. The charts don’t say it all, because they’re too general. And what the label reps say is sometimes just a “quacking” noise. My dear friend Randy Brown, an excellent programmer, put it best when he was accosted by a label rep for not playing a certain song. When Randy told him he didn’t think it fit his station, the rep said, “It’s just one song.” To which Randy replied, “Yes, but when it’s playing, it’s the ONLY song.”

2. Two people talking at the same time. This is just annoying, and carries lots of negatives…
It can seem like you’re trying to “top” each other. Or “shout down” each other. Or just that you’re a couple of knuckleheads who don’t “get” that I CAN’T UNDERSTAND EITHER ONE OF YOU WHEN BOTH OF YOU ARE TALKING AT ONCE. (Especially in the car.)

Talk stations should heed these warnings, too. But in Talk, the “song” no one cares for is the Subject that your listener doesn’t care about. If it doesn’t matter to me (as a listener), then I don’t care what you have to say about it. Hello, Sirius/XM…or Pandora…or Spotify…or my iPhone’s playlists.

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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.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #323 — Kick Out “Kicker” Stories

The main challenge in bringing great Content to the table each day is that it takes a little work – something that it seems like the vast majority of air talents now see as more of a nuisance than anything else.

So what we get a lot of the time is the “kicker” story – one of those supposedly “amusing” stories like the “stupid criminal of the day” tripe, or innocuous, space-filling items like one I saw the day of this writing, “What your crush on Keanu Reeves actually means, according to science.”

This is the lamest form of show prep. Here’s why:

1. No one really cares.

2. Anybody who DID care already saw it. (You’re not the only one with internet service, you know.)

3. There’s nothing personally revealing in it. You’re just reading something, then maybe throwing in a comment. Any idiot can do that.

If you really want to improve your show’s Content, start right now by refusing to do ANYTHING that doesn’t matter to – or isn’t relatable to – your listener. Those “kicker” stories are just things to take up space on the page between the ads anyway. You won’t miss them, and your listener CERTAINLY won’t miss them.

When what you talk about actually matters to the listener, you have a real chance to build a solid career. “Radio personality” is a different definition than just “disc jockey”.

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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.

Tommy Kramer Tip #322 – What You Can Learn from Star Wars

There are many things to learn from great movies, TV shows, and books – all excellent examples of storytelling. And one of the simplest lessons came from the very first Star Wars movie (and continues today): the FIRST LINE sets the stage…

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”

Bam! In ONE line, you’ve justified everything that follows. And of course, each movie in the franchise then has the “crawl” that explains what’s happening at the precise time of that episode.

But way too often in radio we hear the opposite. Longish setups, too many details, sometimes longwinded explanations of who people are (“my sister’s first college roommate, Christie, who used to date my best friend before that…”). UGH. And anyone who has to say “First, let me give you some background…” deserves your tuning out immediately. That’s like a large sign that says ‘BORING’.

Remember, people bought a ticket to see the Star Wars movie. They didn’t buy a ticket to hear you.

So you OWE the listener a concise, relatable beginning. “That old Barnes & Noble building has been bought…” tells me the bookstore that closed a year ago isn’t going to be abandoned anymore. Maybe I’ll check it out, after you tell me a little bit more about what it’s going to be. But you got my ATTENTION with the first line.

That George Lucas guy was kind of smart. I’ve seen the “a long time ago” line – by itself – get applause in the theater at the beginning of each new Star Wars movie. You don’t have to get applause, but you do have to get noticed. Hopefully, using this tip will help you.

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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.