Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #397: Taking Credit for NOT Talking About it

In view of what happened at the nation’s capitol on January 6th, there’s an important caution – and concept – concerning what you should do when something like this dominates the news.

A lot of stations in some formats (like A/C or Contemporary Christian Music, or any music format, actually) choose to simply not talk about it. The danger here is coming across like an ostrich with your head stuck in the sand, like you don’t even know about what happened. This is not something I recommend, although it is better than alienating your audience by sounding off with an opinion that could severely damage your listenership.

The 2nd – and better – way to handle it is to take credit for NOT talking about it. A simple statement like “We’ve all seen what’s in the news right now, but just know that this morning when you’re taking the kids to school, we’re NOT going to be talking about that.” (Same for “picking up the kids” in the afternoon, or “running errands today.”)

You get credit in the mind of the listener for (1) being aware of it, even though you’re not talking about it, and (2) co-parenting, in a way, or at least being someone who’s not going to force the listener to discuss something with their kids that they might not want to discuss yet.

Believe me, this works. It builds TRUST, a huge factor that you should want in your favor.

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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 #396 – Production tip: Avoid Dead Silence

The digital Production world is so much fun. I first went headlong into it with Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, Next Gen, and now Logic Pro X. More tools now than ever before. (I also have Twisted Wave and Garage Band in my phone and iPad.)

Then I turn on the radio, and I hear a commercial or a station promo where it’s edited too tightly. No breaths; the pauses not quite long enough. Probably one of those 63-second “sixties” sped up or read at blinding speed to barely make it. “Avoiding silence” gone mad.

And the other side of the coin is where the spacing is right, but there’s this totally empty silence between sentences. That’s where a flub happened, or something was pasted together, and the resulting eerie, totally dead silence is noticed by the brain.

So here’s the overview: By all means, use the incredible Production tools that we have available. But remember that it still has to have an ‘organic’ factor to actually work.

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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 #395: When to Plan the Next Break

Shows that “fly by the seat of their pants” inevitably sound loose and have ‘dead’ time that needn’t be there.

Now, some 355 stations into this talent coaching stuff, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: people need to plan, not just “wing it”.

Here’s the easiest way to get a simple system in place…

Right after you finish a break, lay out the NEXT break. If you’re in a team show, it’s doubly important. A quick run-through (“Okay, next we’ll do the rodeo thing; I’ll start. Remember your line that we’re going to get out on…”). Now, with that done, you now have several minutes to relax, chat, etc.

The old saying is “if you fail to plan, your plan is to fail,” and by and large, it’s true.

Note: This does NOT kill spontaneity; it just kills uncertainty. And sounding SURE is what creates the “command presence” that all great air talents have.

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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 #394: Confidence vs. Ego

There’s a huge difference between Confidence and having a big Ego. A great Talent needs confidence. Without it, you’d never try anything different, never find the things that are unique to you.

And confidence shows. Think Sean Connery as James Bond. Tiger Woods. Paul McCartney.

But ego shows more – and usually it’s not a flattering image. At all.

The great Gary Larson dealt with how suddenly Ego can come tumbling down:

In radio, it’s not ego that kills. It’s DISPLAYS of ego that kill radio stations. Be careful how you define yourself, what claims you make in your Imaging, and how the air talents handle things.

*Note to Gary Larson: you’re the best cartoonist who ever lived. I’m only borrowing your one-panel here to make a point. Please don’t sue me. 😇

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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 #393 – Tasks vs. Creativity

If you’re so busy doing so many things – so many contests, so many (management) “initiatives”, so many other jobs (podcasts, voice tracking another station, writing website articles, social media postings) – you will inevitably lose Creativity.

You only have so many breaks during a show to talk about ANYTHING. There are always things to plug, but you can’t plug everything equally.
The winning template is to only have one “big” thing and one “little” thing. Say a major contest as your Big thing, and something else as your little thing. That way, you still have time to do something creative on a regular basis as a main ingredient of your show.

Look, it’s a challenge for an air talent to talk about something for the millionth time and still breathe some creativity into it, but they’ll do much better at that than they will trying to fit an impossible number of things into the show to the point that there’s no time left to do ANYTHING creative.

Be careful as a PD or GM not to put too many things on the plate, because past a certain number, you’ll not only lose creativity, but you’ll also lose spontaneity – leaving nothing to listen FOR.

Remember, I can look at your website and see all the crap you want to promote. Your primary job should be to ENTERTAIN me at LEAST as much as you inform me. When you lose that balance, Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon Prime music take your place in line for my time spent listening.

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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 #392: The Gordon McLendon News Test

It’s said that radio pioneer Gordon McLendon used to put prospective news people through a simple, but incredibly revealing test.

He’d hand you a story off the AP wire and say “Read this…to yourself.” After the talent read it (silently), Gordon would turn the page face down on the desk and say, “Now tell me what it said.”

He wanted Storytellers. Writers who could take “facts” and turn them into stories, with an “arc” to them.

All the McLendon stations had incredible News talents who, even in Top 40 (the format that he and Todd Storz invented), compelled listeners to stay with the station instead of going somewhere else to keep up with what was happening.

Obviously, this isn’t just a technique to use for News. It plays into everything we do. Any idiot can read to me, but not everyone can ENGAGE me.

This is THE point of even being on the air 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 #391: The Significance of Bubblegum

Connecting with the listener – as soon as possible in any given break – is Job One. I’ve spent hundreds of hours doing sessions about this one thing with air talent in every English-speaking format, and the best example is the simplest one:

I like bubblegum. You like bubblegum, too. Let’s be friends.

That’s the way we form relationships as kids. We start with what we have in common. The problem with so much of radio today, where some faceless voice selects an article or a subject from the internet or social media, then adds a lame punch line to it, is that it lacks that fundamental “bubblegum” ingredient.

This is why “News of the Weird”, “Trivia”, “Stupid Criminal Stories”, “This Day in History”, and contests that are too complicated and don’t sound like I can win the prize anyway are massive “Fails” today.

Reject all those. START with what you and the listener have in common. If you don’t really know who the station is targeting, ask your PD today. If you need help learning how to do this, well, there’s always coaching…

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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 #390: “Slug lines” on Promos

Often, promos get waylaid by trying too hard to say too much. In particular, “slug lines” (tags) on the end try WAY too hard.

“He’s a little bit goofy. She’s a little bit ditzy…”
“Making you laugh every day…”
“They’re here to lift you up…”

Blah, blah, blah.

You don’t need these. Here’s the template…

1. A quick intro: “Jack and Belinda…”
2. A sound bite from the show.
3. Then a tag: “Jack and Belinda, Mornings on 93.9 KBGL…”

Cut out the adjectives and superlatives. Let the clip do the work.

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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 #389: Selling versus Telling

There’s a huge difference between “selling” and “telling”.

“Selling” something isn’t nearly as effective as simply Telling me about it; sharing. There’s a built-in resistance to someone pounding a message home.

Disc jockeys are told to “sell” liners, copy points, etc. But you don’t “sell” your friends on something. You just share what you know or believe. (If you do “sell” all the time, believe me, your friends are tired of it and you need to stop.) This is why disc jockeys aren’t doing movie trailers and national ads.

In working with many voice actors that you hear every day on national spots, I’ve often stressed just talking to the listener/viewer. A great example from the past is voiceover master Mason Adams, famous for “With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good.”

Just talk to me. It works.

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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 #388: Degree of Fit

When a break is too wordy, you have to rush. And that’ll usually mean you’re going faster than the song, which the listener may not consciously think about, but the ear notices.

Being concise cures this. Only do what fits, conversationally.

Follow this rule: if what you want to say won’t fit over an intro, SAY LESS. Being concise is an art. When it comes to Content, the person who doesn’t waste the listener’s time wins.

Talk radio hosts: you might want to think about being more concise, too. Beating a subject to death doesn’t work as well as a more concise, better organized statement. Past a certain point, you’re in danger of just coming across as a loud, droning noise.

Remember…
The most recorded song in our lifetime is “Yesterday” by the Beatles. It’s only two minutes long.

The most quoted speech in history by an American President is the Gettysburg Address. It’s also the shortest.

The most powerful piece of scripture in the Bible is only two words long.

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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.