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 #336 – The First Thing You Say

The first thing out of your mouth when you open the mic often determines how long someone will listen to you – or if they’re hearing you at all. Almost instantaneously, the Listener will either connect with you…or not. So here’s a tip that almost every air talent ignores:

MATCH THE MUSIC to automatically glue yourself to the Listener’s ear.
If the song is slow and quiet, but you come out loud and blasting words, that’s TOTALLY WRONG.

Fast song = upbeat delivery that matches that rhythm.
Slow song = “right in the pocket” delivery that matches that song’s pace.

Second level thought: Feel the Emotion of the song, and start right there, as if you’re into it.
From that beginning, you can go anywhere else you need to go. But DON’T start like you just threw your headphones on because the song was ending. If you sound like you were just texting or looking at your Facebook page one second ago, you won’t get the result you want.

The listener can feel when you’re engaged and in the moment…and when you’re not.
And remember that you CAN’T feel if the listener is engaged or not. Pull that person toward you by being a PART of what he/she is hearing first.

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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 #335 – Being Entertaining

Being entertaining – which should be every air talent’s #1 goal – isn’t about punch lines. It’s about how you see the world.

George Carlin saw the world as a series of oddities worthy of comments. “A house is just a place where you keep your stuff…while you go get more stuff.”

Jerry Seinfeld sees the world analytically: “What it is with Grape Nuts? No grapes; no nuts.”

Rodney Dangerfield envisioned a life of getting no respect. “I told my dentist my teeth are turning yellow. He told me to wear a brown tie.”

My friend Jon Rivers once listened to an aircheck of a “not there yet” talent, and said “He knows not. And he knows not that he knows not.”

The great Howard Clark, back in the days of playing vinyl records, once started one on the wrong speed, and said, “Hands of a surgeon; mind of a tractor.”

How you see the world, and your place in it, creates your on-air persona. The way you see the world creates your “camera angles” and shapes your vocabulary. (This is what I work on with people more than anything else.)

The odd thing is that you more personal you get in expressing how you see the world differently than anyone else, the more people you connect with.

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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 #334 – Being Authentic

There’s a lot of buzz nowadays about “being authentic.” Some stations even state it as a concrete goal, but come nowhere near it when that mic opens. Here’s why:

Even if you think you’re being authentic, that isn’t determined by YOU. It’s determined by the Listener.

Actors stuck in soap operas, who would love to star in feature films but never get offered any, think they’re being authentic. But of course, they’re only ACTING authentic.

More accomplished actors are just being the character, imagining what they’d feel if they were that person. They’re not acting like him, they’re just “being” him. (Or her.)

Not coincidentally, almost every great actor has had at least one coach who helped him or her find “the firmament” – that place from which the real ability grows.

Ask yourself this: To your listener, are you a truly distinguishable personality, or are you just another voice saying words?

Don’t try to be perfect, and don’t be a clone. Be YOU. If you need help finding out who you are – yes, I’m serious – then get some coaching, or at the least, keep reading these tips. Because as my friend Hank Haney (golf coach extraordinaire) says, “You can’t see your own swing.”

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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 #333 – Friendly Competition

Great radio stations are different from just “radio stations where people work”. Great stations know who they are, who the listener is, and have air talent that competes with each other on who will have the best “moment” that day.

They also root for each other to have their own memorable moments, too. Being the best player on a team with only one or two good players – well, there’s no real joy in that. We should want to lift each other up and challenge each other to do really good radio. Every day.

When that happens, as my dear friend “Brother Jon” Rivers says, you reach “critical mass” and your station explodes in all directions with great ideas and a palpably good morale. And an almost automatic level of success, because it’s actually easier to do good radio than it is to do lame radio. CARING is its own reward, and triggers endorphins that make you feel good about yourself, your life, and your career.

I like to think that coaching is the art of bringing this spirit alive in Talent; showing each air talent what he or she does best, and working on eliminating what we don’t do well. It’s never just about x’s and o’s and techniques. It’s about a sense of the Art of communication. So, if your station lacks coaching, here are three free “starter kit” lessons:

“What can I say about this that the listener might actually notice?” is where it all begins.
“What can I say that won’t be typical?” is the second step.
“What can I say that is unique to me?” is when it starts to really blossom.

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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 #332 – Everyone Has a Story, But…

The saying is that “Everyone has a story.”

That may be true, but the problem is that most people aren’t very good at TELLING it.
That’s why you have to EDIT them.

It’s Beginning > Middle > End.
What it should NOT be (but we hear way too often) is “Meandering” beginning > Middle that’s too long > Ending that’s predictable, or something being repeated that was said earlier in the story.

TAKE OUT what’s nonessential. When you eliminate unnecessary details and nebulous “side roads”, and you don’t try too hard to either make it “meaningful” or to somehow get to some punch line that just comes across as silly or insincere, you’ve left more room for Emotions. And that – the Emotional Core at the center of a story – is what impacts the listener.

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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 #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.