Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #432: MEAN Something

There’s this great scene in the old Paul Newman/Robert Redford movie “The Sting”. Redford’s character is questioning about the scam they’re pulling on the bad guy (played by Robert Shaw), and asks, “Do you think it’ll work?” Newman’s character answers, “Relax, kid. We had him twenty years ago when he decided to BE somebody.”

This has actually become a microcosm of the world we’re living in. Everyone hungers to “BE something” even if it’s just for a few seconds. A Twitter posting, a picture that gets “liked” by some social media throng.

Let’s apply this to radio. In coaching over 1700 air talents, I’ve found that it’s always a challenge when someone says he or she wants to ‘be’ somebody (to the listener). While you can certainly strive for that, that’s the shallow end of the pool. The real aim should be to MEAN something to the listener. When you’re the person who weighs in on what’s relevant in my life consistently, that emotional connection IS the point. You don’t just have ‘name value’; you have actual value.

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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 #431: Fewer Words

It’s never a bad time to work on using fewer words. Here’s why…

When you pare down the word count, it helps you cut through the ‘blah blah’ all over the dial and sound more specific, which tends to “imprint” more on the mind.

It’s a paradox, but using more words rarely makes something clearer.

(Note: This tip started out as a full page of 240+ words, but I cut it down to just 55.)

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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 #430 – We Have To Sound Smart

In the course of some coaching sessions, I sometimes have to discuss grammar with an air talent. It’s painful to correct “between he and I” (which should be “between him and me,” of course) or “Us guys love Fantasy Football.” (Uh huh. So I guess the Queen song was “Us Will Rock You”?)

More than once, I’ve been met with how that’s “nitpicking” or asked “Why does it matter?”

Here’s why it matters…unless we sound intelligent, like we actually passed seventh-grade English, we can’t be taken seriously. Think about that. Maybe in a time of true darkness, when something really serious has happened, you won’t be the listener’s first choice. Because serious events or issues need serious and uplifting thoughts, and it takes a thorough knowledge of vocabulary, sentence structure, and grammar to be able to inform or comfort people.

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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 #429: Turn Down the Volume

We don’t broadcast in a vacuum. Turn on the radio or the TV (or any audio streaming service), and maybe the first thing you’ll notice is how LOUD things are nowadays. Screaming commercials, “big voice” ANNOUNCEMENTS, local commercials where some car dealership’s relative who’s never had any coaching bleats out the ad copy, commercials or promos that seem twice as loud as the TV show…Sports announcers screaming at you because the crowd noise around them apparently makes them forget that they have a microphone – it’s just an assault on the senses sometimes.

Here’s how you avoid being part of that noise monsoon: Turn down the volume. Be emotionally invested, and trust that being enough. Yes, you want to be ‘animated’ in what you say, but “energy” is overbilled. To be truly heard, you should cultivate an ear-friendly delivery.

More expression, less volume.

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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 #428: The Thing About Short Breaks

In the course of a “reboot” for a station, the first tactic is often to limit the length of breaks, and/or limit how many “Content” breaks there are in the hour.

The reaction is almost always the same: the air talent gripes about being “held back” or “not being given the time I need” to do Content.

I wish every air talent had taken a creative writing course in school, and/or written a LOT of commercials. It’s really important to learn about story construction – how to pull the listener in quickly, how a story moves from one point to another, how to be concise, and how to provide an ending that takes us somewhere, instead of just some lame “moral of the story” wrap-up or obvious punch line.
And it’s equally important to be able to fit something over a song intro, where you only have a few seconds.

The bottom line is that skill in constructing and telling a story + having time restrictions = expertise in written or spoken word. Sounding relaxed, but being as brief as possible, can quickly make everyone ELSE sound like they can’t shut up. That’s a huge advantage for you!

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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 #427 – I Can Read Facebook Without You

No doubt about it, Content is the biggest challenge for any air talent. RELEVANCE to the listener is the key. Not settling for something that your listener only has a passing interest in is a huge step in making your show different from all the others.

I can read Facebook without you.
I can see “filler stories” on any website without you.
I can get stories about other people, in other places, that bear no resemblance to where and how I live my life…without you.

True Content is simple, really. If I can see myself in whatever ‘scene’ or situation you talk about, it’s good. If I can’t, you’re just talking to someone else – or maybe just talking to no one.

There are only two lanes:
1. Things that are relevant to how I live.
2. Things I might NEED to know, but haven’t heard about them yet.

As Roy Williams (“the Wizard of Ads”) said, “Nobody wants to see your home movies unless they’re IN them.”

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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 #426: A Quick Phone Call Guide

Three simple rules for great phone calls in music radio:

1. Have a clear ending in mind. ‘Real’ people can be entertaining…but not all that often. 😄

2. Let the caller finish his sentence before you jump in. If two people are both talking at the same time, it’s hard to make out what either one of them says. You’re going to edit the call anyway, so be patient. That makes for good audio. (If you’re taking live calls, that’s like rolling a grenade into the room.)

3. Remember that to the listener, it’s a conversation. But to us, it’s a sound bite. Do a nice, compact setup (or reset), hit the call, take the “out”.

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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 #425: The Condensed Version

My friend and associate John Frost says I’m the only one he knows who can talk for an hour about editing, so I’ll try to keep this short: Keep things short.

Condense. The fewer words you can use, the easier it is to follow. You don’t have to feel restricted, but as you put a break together, throw out words that aren’t really necessary. That makes what you leave in stand out more.

Think about it; very few long quotes ever get cited by anyone. It’s usually the short, most direct one that gets remembered and repeated.

Note for Talk Radio: this does apply. It’s amazing how short, impactful sentences get the best response. Longer, wordier diatribes tend to get more placid response…or the same person who called yesterday with the same type of comment he’s making today. Three short sentences get better reaction than one sentence three times as long.

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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 #424: Two Questions to Ask Yourself

I don’t like asking questions, but here are two that you should ask yourself, whether you’re an air talent, Programmer, or GM:

1. What do you have that I can’t get everywhere else?
In the current era of “cookie cutter” formats, this is crucial. If all you are is a corporate playlist and people reading liners and crap from the internet, the answer to that question is “nothing.”

2. What do you have that I can’t get ANYWHERE else?
And remember, it has to be relevant. Just being “different” isn’t enough.

The answers to these two questions will decide your future. There are too many entertainment alternatives available today for you to expect people to waste their time listening to boring radio. Do SOMETHING…rather than do nothing.

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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 #423: What Makes You Matter

So in a nutshell, here’s the biggest thing about Content:

You will not matter to anyone unless you talk about something that matters to that person.

I know – this sounds so simple, so the question is, “Why do so many stations fill the air with things that don’t matter to the listener?”

My theory is that they just don’t know yet what the whole purpose of radio is. Or they’re ego-driven, which is the wrong road. Let’s be clear – nobody cares about what you want, or what the board of directors’ goals are. They care only about what you do that entertains them, or informs them about something they might need to know, but maybe they haven’t heard yet.

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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.