Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #572: The Barbecue Test

Here’s a quick way to measure or grade your on-air performance: Is what you’re saying something you’d say at a backyard barbecue to a person you just met?

If it’s not, then why are you saying it?

“Too inside” is a disease. You potentially have a new person tuning in for the first time right now. What are you going to say to welcome that person in? And more importantly, what will you say that compels that person to stick around today, or come back tomorrow?

The simplest, shortest break you do may the one that catches that listener’s attention; that makes him or her think, “This person is like me.”

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #571: In the Mood

Moods matter. Some shows I’ve heard recently have one – but ONLY one.

We’re humans. We have moods – all sorts of different ones, each day. So, the challenge for you is to not just plaster on a veneer every day, but to have a definable mood to each show.

Tip: Reflect the mood around you – what you feel at home, or when you stop at a store for coffee, or at the place where you work. Feed off that. Let it guide you to be in step with the Listener.

When I sense that you feel what I’m feeling, we bond. And as I always say, we’re not paid by the word; we’re paid by the connection.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #570: All That Matters is What Matters

Here’s a quick check of your Content: I believe that all that matters is what matters.

If you’re just doing “fluff” bits, even if something creates a chuckle, it’s not necessarily gonna make someone come back tomorrow. But that person probably will if you’re the best at talking about what matters to him or her.

Don’t misunderstand me – this doesn’t mean that you have to be “news-ish” or boringly serious all the time. That would go against everything I believe in. If you can make people laugh, that’s a great skill. I’m just saying that if you’re funny about what matters to the listener – the situation that he or she can identify with – not just a Subject that just fell out of the sky, you’ll be much better.

This was a hard lesson for me to learn in my own on-air career. But the great Lee Abrams, my Program Director in both Chicago and Cleveland, said to me one day, “Tommy, you can’t try to be funny every break.” That was a key building block in what I became, and in what I coach today.

EVERY mood is welcome – as long as it matters. And being truly Entertaining certainly isn’t just about punch lines.

Focus. What is your listener waiting to hear your ‘take’ on today?

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #569: Conquering the “One Speed” Thing

“Ear fatigue” can be caused by many different things. I want to refocus on one that I’m hearing way too much – the “one set speed” delivery. It doesn’t seem to matter if the song is “having a stroke” fast or “worm crawling” slow, the air talent is at one speed all the time. No variation. It’s boring. That person is a time filler, rather than a true personality.

(To be fair, this is often the result of a P. D. talking about “momentum”, which is a different thing, and isn’t dependent on speed.)

Anyway, in music formats, the cure to the “one speed” disease is really easy: Your delivery should match the Pace, or the Mood, of the song you’re talking over or coming out of. (Ideally, you’d do both.)

And for my Talk radio friends and clients – you should also watch falling into one set speed. Different subjects require different deliveries. They have a best pace or vibe, too.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #568: The “Me Too” thing for Radio

Years ago, when I was riding my Brontosaurus to work, I was paired with a partner named Rick “The Beamer” Robertson to do a morning team show in Dallas. I drove there from Louisiana to talk to the P. D. about the gig, and met Rick for the first time when he arrived about a half-hour later. The first thing he did was to stick out his to shake, and say, “Hi, I’m Rick, your mail-order bride.”
I knew we were going to get along.

The station, sadly, wasn’t that great, but we worked hard to have a great morning show, and did well. It was a lot of fun.

But here’s where you get something to think about…

There was a galvanizing moment a couple of weeks into the job, when Rick and I had breakfast together after the show. (We did this regularly, and it’s something I recommend.) We were going over some stuff that worked well that morning, and Rick pointed out that when I talked about something personal, we got a lot of “Me, too” reactions. (And those listeners’ stories.)

Beamer was laugh-out-loud hilarious, but more performative. Over the next few weeks, we used his lightning-fast wit and a couple of performance bits, but we made a point of diving into his personal life quite a bit.

Frankly, he didn’t like this at first, but I explained it to him this way:

(1) My family and friends all knew that if they didn’t want something on the air, they shouldn’t let me know about it. Everything, every day, was fair game for Content on the air.

(2) The show couldn’t be just about us. It needed to be about ALL of us. To get people to reveal things about themselves, we talked about what we felt.

It worked really well for him, and brought out things in Rick that made him more familiar and three-dimensional.

That’s the lesson: The reaction that you want is “Me, too. That’s how I feel.”

Note: there’s a trick to this. If you just come across as always talking about yourself, that’s not good. So how do you avoid that, but still share? Specific techniques that, once you master them, lead easily to a “reveal” is a big part of my coaching. If you read these tips regularly, you’ll spot the Easter eggs.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #567: A Lesson from Bobby Flay

“Beat Bobby Flay” is one of my wife’s favorite TV shows, and watching it the other night, a thought struck me.

The format is that two chefs compete with each other to see who then goes up against Bobby Flay. Then Flay has to make that chef’s standout dish, and it’s amazing how many times Bobby wins. (Then again, he is an Iron Chef. He was the first American chef to compete in the original Iron Chef competition in Japan, and he defeated the great Masaharu Morimoto – not an easy thing to do.)

Anyway, the interesting part came in the first round, when it was a hard decision to pick which chef would go forward to face Bobby. The person who lost, as he was exiting, said that he didn’t look at like he failed. He said, “It’s not failure; it’s learning.”

This is a thing I constantly use in coaching when I have to correct something, or point out a fundamental error. WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES. But what you LEARN from a mistake determines how well your career will go.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #566: Speaking Well = Success and Respect

Okay, this tip is for radio and TV talent, but it’s also kind of for life in general.

I wholly believe that if you want to be successful – and be respected – the key is speaking well. This will get you ahead in almost any profession, but I believe it especially applies to radio and TV.

In my work with hundreds of on-air talents, and particularly with the TV personalities I’ve coached, we stress two essential ingredients:

1. You should have a wide and expansive vocabulary. Falling back on stock phrases over and over again just makes you sound like you can’t think of another way to say something. And clichés are called clichés for a reason. Today’s cool new phrase is tomorrow’s “Okay, boomer” dismissal.

2. You should also have (or develop) the ability to choose just the right words ‘in the moment’ as you’re talking. Prep is one thing, but being live under fire is another.

No matter what profession you work in, but especially in any media format, there’s no advantage to sounding undereducated. Like NFL Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson said, “The next time I draft a dumb player, hit me over the head with a hammer.”

That’s not what you want them to feel about you.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #565: A Tip from Robert Redford

While flipping around You Tube the other night, I rewatched the “Inside the Actors Studio” episode with the great Robert Redford. I hadn’t seen it in a long time.

At one point, host James Lipton asked Redford what he looked for in a movie that he might want to act in or direct. Redford noted three things, to which I’ve added my thoughts as it applies to Content on the radio:

1. Story. If it’s not intriguing, no one will want to watch it. (Or listen to it.)

2. Character. Is the main character – in this case, you – a recognizable, three-dimensional human being? (To become this on the air, you have to crack your chest open and show us what’s in there. Share your thoughts on stuff that your listener cares about.)

3. Conflict. In Redford’s description, he said, “…the character changes because of the conflict.” (This is something I don’t always hear on the radio. How did what you’re talking about affect or change what you felt?)

If all he ever did as an actor was “The Natural” or “The Sting”, I’d still love Redford. And his beautiful “A River Runs Through It” is my favorite film that he’s directed. Robert Redford takes his art seriously, and refused, as he put it, to just “stand there and be handsome.”

And in that last paragraph, you saw the Story (his becoming not just a fine actor, but an excellent director), the Character (Redford), and the Conflict (not being labeled as just another pretty face).

You also learned a little about me.

See how easy it is?

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #564: How to Make a Subject Work on the Air

I coach show prep and Content constantly. One of the questions I get asked about most is, “How do I make a subject work on the air?” Sometimes it’s a good idea, but that air talent just can’t seem to find the “connective tissue” that really clicks with the audience.

So, a couple of simple guidelines about Content:

1. Keep in mind that if it’s not Relevant, it WON’T work. I’m listening for the things that apply to my life, today. Period. A story about “Growing wheat on Mars” is of no relevance to me. (I’m hesitant to even get on a plane these days. Someone might decide to open the door at 25,000 feet.)

2. But if it IS relevant, simply tap into an Emotion that we have in common about it, and it WILL work. Every time.

It’s a drag hearing emotionless conversation or a lame attempt at trying to make something matter just because you thought of a punch line.

Answer this question and you’ll be on the right track: “How does it affect me (as a listener)?”

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #563: Talk About People’s Feelings

Years ago at a radio gathering in Nashville, a dear friend and outstanding morning show talent and I did a Content seminar.

My friend had himself drifted a bit himself, doing old creaky bits like “This Day in History” and “Stupid Criminal Stories”.

…until I started coaching him. In the seminar, we talked about dropping stuff like that, and being more real-life and specific to his area, when a person in the audience asked what was wrong with trying to get a little humor out of something like “This Day in History”.

I explained that it’s “empty calories” in diet-speak, because it doesn’t really tell us anything about you. And since it’s just factoids, there’s no connection between you and the listener doing stuff like that.

Then I said, “You need to be talking to the woman who’s in the grocery store and has a hundred dollars…but the bill just rang up as 120 dollars, so she’s having to take some things out of the shopping cart, and she’s embarrassed.”

Talk about what people FEEL. It cannot fail. You’ll be a star.
Yes, there are techniques involved, but I’ve seen this work for literally hundreds of people that I’ve coached.

What do you have to lose by throwing away stock bits that don’t mean anything to anyone now? Crack your chest open and let us see what’s in there.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.