About tommykramer

Tommy Kramer has spent over 35 years in radio as an on-air talent, Programmer, and Talent Coach, and has worked with over 300 stations in all formats, specializing in coaching morning team shows, but also working with entire staffs. In addition, he works with many premium voice actors that you hear every day on Imaging, Radio and TV commercials, and Hollywood Movie Trailers. Tommy was elected to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2003. Call Tommy @ 214-632-3090 (iPhone), or email coachtommykramer@gmail.com

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.

– – – – – – –
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.

– – – – – – –
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.)

– – – – – – –
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.

– – – – – – –
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”.

– – – – – – –
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.

– – – – – – –
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 #321 – One of the Biggest Challenges with Voice Tracking

The voice tracker scenario isn’t going away any time soon. It’s the nature of the game in today’s radio world. And that’s not really good, because there are many weak things about having a voice-tracked show on the air.

The voice-tracking jock doesn’t know that a tornado is heading toward town. While he or she is doing a “partly sunny” forecast, a warehouse is in danger of losing its roof.

They can’t take phone calls. And since radio is about AUDIO, we get the lame “fix” of jocks reading social media posts on the air instead of having a person call. That leads to mostly boring Content, done in a pretty boring way, and losing the immediacy of someone replying to something you did last break – in their voice, not yours.

But one of the biggest “fails” is seemingly small, but extremely important: we lose the connection to the music. A comment about a song doesn’t get made when a voice tracker doesn’t even know what song just played. So what made the experience special in the first place – an air personality weighing in on a song, or giving you some background that might be really interesting – is missing from the equation.

That’s why we hear so many voice trackers just doing the “basics”, making announcements, and reading crap from a computer screen. Little, if any, real personality or bonding with the listener is going on, and there’s a lack of “something happening here” for hours at a time. And that makes for no – repeat NO – spontaneity.

COACH your voice-trackers. Raise their level of CARING, so we don’t just get “voices saying words” and a “floating head with a name” instead of someone trying to connect with us and being right here, right now, in this minute, and at least knowing what song just played when they stop down.

– – – – – – –
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 #320 – The Female Voice

The last tip was about a challenge that skews mostly male – the “big” voice. So now, let’s talk about the female voice.

There are some incredible female voice actors and air talents, but the percentage of women who actually get coaching in radio that’s specific to their voices is staggeringly small.

Often, this is the result of today’s radio world. Like many of my friends, I started out doing all-nights, then moved to evenings, etc. where we had time to get our arms around what our voices were most capable of, and how to eliminate the less ear-friendly parts of our voices and deliveries by simply putting in the ten thousand hours that becoming really good at something requires. But a lot of women on the air today haven’t had that luxury. Often, they’re immediately plopped down in middays, or made a partner in a morning team show, with virtually no preparation in what that SOUND should be.

LEARN what you can do with your voice. Try to sound like a mom, a sister, a friend, a lawyer presenting a case in court, a doctor talking to a patient, etc. Each of those requires a slightly different delivery, with tiny nuances that are either going to be three-dimensional and pull people toward you, or they’re just going to fizzle. Mad, sweet, informative (but not lecturing), smart (but not smarmy), forceful but not shrill – these are all little “roles” you can play to find out just what arrows you really have in your vocal “quiver”. It takes a good ear, first of all; then an absolute honesty about what you’re hearing yourself do. Breathing when you should (at the end of a thought), caressing a message to the listener rather than “announcing” it – these things take time, and training. You can self-train, and If you want to accelerate the program, get a coach. Often, a “hire” comes down to which person just has more vocal “chops”.

– – – – – – –
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 #319 – The 80% Rule for Big Voices

This happens fairly regularly when I start working with someone who’s been blessed with a “big” voice.

Almost without fail, these guys have been told all their lives what wonderful voices they have, and it’s really hard for a lot of them, especially in smaller markets, to resist “using” that big chamber too much, or in the wrong way, or for the wrong reasons.

Some thoughts to help you:

1. You’ll never be “king of the hill”. There’s always someone with a bigger voice than you.

2. Often, big voices, when they try to sound excited, come across too “over the top” because it’s not the range they’ve worked on the most. It’s easy to slide into the “circus barker” delivery. (Ick.)

3. And almost always, the very lowest register of the Big Voice Guy isn’t very ear-friendly. Yes, a big, powerful voice on a Classic Rock station’s Imaging SEEMS like the way to go, but really…not so much. It’s become more of a cliché – even a cartoon, now. So I tell those guys to AVOID the very lowest they can go.

When you chop off the “not really authentic” top of the range, and then lop off the “fake Morgan Williamson or James Earl Jones” wannabe sound, all you’ve really done is take out the 10% from the top and the 10% from the bottom that makes you sound less real, anyway. That still leaves you with plenty of room in the remaining 80% of your range to do the real work – exploring and LEARNING about your voice…what your real strengths are, how to improve (but not overdo) your inflection, how to just “be the guy who would say that” instead of trying to “impress” someone with how beautiful your so-called “pipes” are. And as I’ve said many times over the years in various tips, you automatically take away two areas of concern that only great big voices have – sounding either tired, or angry.

You can always “go to the well” for effect when you need it, but chances are you never will. The guys with huge voices who learn NOT to “use” them, and just talk, instead, sound much more real and approachable.

– – – – – – –
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 #318 – Where You NEVER Want to Go

In essence, the air talent’s job is to take us somewhere…a journey, from beginning to end. One break at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time.

As you do, either you leave a mental “imprint” on the listener, or you just go by unnoticed, a mosquito making a noise in the background.

While there have been tons of books written about this, one thought, originally from the great acting coach Stella Adler, and used to perfection by my friend Valerie Geller in the Talk radio world, sums it all up: Never be boring.

Stella Adler put it this way:
“You can’t be boring. Life is boring. The weather is boring. Actors must not be boring.”

There’s an easy way to avoid being boring. Simply ask yourself this: “What do I have to offer that won’t be ‘typical’?” Because THAT is what will set you apart from almost everyone else across the dial.

– – – – – – –
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.