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 #437: No News is Good News – and Here’s Why

We can probably all agree that ideally, everything you do on the air should play to a strength. If not, it’s probably best to eliminate it.

I feel sorry for air talent with no training in News writing or delivery being forced to do headlines.

Really, except for All-News or NewsTalk stations, News – I’m talking about actually doing a newscast – seems kind of outdated, to me. Not that many people come to a music station for News these days, because there are so many other sources to get it from.

Please understand that this shouldn’t mean that you ignore the News. But what I’m recommending is that if there’s a significant story, you just do a break about it when you stop down, without the formality of a News structure. It’s my opinion that we turn what’s likely to be a liability into a true strength this way.

Obviously, this is something that Programming has to okay.

We’ll address another so-called ‘service element’ – the Weather – in the next tip.

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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 #436: The Learner’s Heart

One of the benefits of doing this talent coaching thing for a long time is that you learn how to appraise talent quickly. After just a couple of coaching sessions, one thing always stands out: the person with the learner’s heart is going to get better. The person whose ego gets in the way of learning isn’t going to progress much unless that changes.

So which one are you? Are you open to suggestion, to change, to experimenting? You can still have your opinions, of course, but to have that be a closed circuit just means standing still. If nothing else, getting thoughts from a different perspective from someone you trust will make your decision-making quicker and more certain.

Lebron James has a coach. So does Tom Brady. So has every Olympic champion.

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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 #435: Don’t Marry the Information; Marry the Story

Overwhelmingly, especially in Music radio, News sounds like News – the facts. (Boring.) And Information from a print source SOUNDS like it’s being read.

Here’s how to eliminate that: Don’t marry the Information; marry the STORY.
Any idiot can read the facts. But it rarely sounds natural. It rarely sounds conversational. And “print words” poison any exchange.

What happened, or is likely to happen? How would it (or does it, or did it) make people FEEL? Only when you plug into the core Emotion of the story will it really connect with people.

I start there. Then I strip away anything that sounds too “official” when it’s said out loud.

People don’t connect with facts. They connect with Emotions. That’s why some “stories” aren’t interesting or compelling. They fill the air with words, but don’t say much.

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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 #434: Your Neediness is Not a Reason for Me to Respond

Seems like I hear more people trying to put callers on the air these days, but fewer callers’ comments are very interesting…if they get any calls at all. I believe the fundamental reason for this is that the way they solicit caller input (or social media input) is flawed.

The easiest way to get good response is first of all, to make the solicitation sound off-the-cuff, instead of seeming “needy” or sounding like the only reason you brought the Subject up in the first place was to get calls about it. That’s disingenuous.

As a listener, I’m not here to do the show for you, and your neediness is certainly not a reason for me to respond.

So try these…

“If you want to share…” (then give the phone number or social media address)

“If you’ve got a thought…” (phone #)

“If you see something I don’t…” or “Maybe you know something I don’t…” (Those last two are the most powerful ones; but be careful not to overuse them.)

More casual invitation = more down-to-earth response.

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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 #433: Two Workshop Thoughts

Some coaching sessions are what I call “workshop” sessions, where instead of concentrating on one thing, we talk more about the bigger picture, and how to reach a higher level.
It’s not all pie in the sky, though. Even the best air talents need foundational reminders now and then. Returning to our overall vision clarifies things and takes us out of the “critique” space. Here’s an example, an excerpt from a recap of a recent session with Dave & Tristi, the fine morning team on 89.5 KTSY in Boise:

1. Always have a solid ending in mind first. If you do, constructing the story will be far easier. Trying to tie a bunch of divergent facts together at the end is why writers and performers get stumped. Knowing that the Ending is going to resonate relaxes the whole writing (or composing in your head) process.

2. An economy of words results in fewer overreactions, phone solicitations get easier and more natural-sounding, and you weed out phrases that sound like ‘liners’. You don’t want to constrict yourself so much as just trim things down, so they make more impact.

Sessions like today’s, with two premium talents who are always receptive…well, that’s why I enjoy the ‘workshop’ environment so much. (As opposed to the actual Shop classes in school, where the instructor always seemed to be missing a finger.)

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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 #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.