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 #537: The Simplest Thought for Getting Great Phone Calls

One of the things I’m always getting asked about is phone calls – how to get listeners to call, how to get better calls, and how to build a dependable core of really good callers. Over the years, I’ve coached hundreds of people on this, so if you want the phones to ring, here you go…

The first challenge for a large number of stations is simply how to get phone response – at all, in some cases. The easiest answer is from my friend Wally (WAY-FM) who says “If you’re not getting calls, it’s because you’re not interesting.”
The fast path to “interesting” is knowing who your target listener is, then talking about what he or she thinks actually matters today. People bond with people who share their likes and concerns. Of course.

But to get high-quality calls, “highlight reel” stuff, is a different level.
Here’s what I believe is the simplest thought to get more and better calls. Remember…

People will rarely have anything great to say about something that’s speculative in nature – “What if…” stuff. What people are best at is talking about something they’ve already experienced.

Games are fine; they’ll get calls. But soft or formulaic-sounding “topics and phone calls” bits are like fast food. That’ll satisfy some people. But if that’s all you’re aiming for, it’s not enough. Callers, or really good callers?

The next level:
Legendary shows know that tapping into people’s home movies always works. And the more you do that, the more a caller “culture” is created; one that’s funny and more substantial. And it ends up being always available.

It’s SO easy. But it’s an art, too, and it takes discipline.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #536: The End of the Table

This is primarily a team show tip, based on an aircheck a friend sent me of him and his new female partner.

He’s very conversational. She’s LOUD. And this is something I hear a lot. People (regardless of gender) on the radio seem to get LOUD when they’re talking to each other.

I don’t understand that. You’re supposed to be friends. Why are you shouting at each other? And why are both of you shouting at me?

You want to talk loud enough to be heard at the end of the dinner table, not to be heard at the end of the continent.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #535: It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere

In honor of Jimmy Buffett’s passing, I’m using his song “”It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” (sung with Alan Jackson) as the starting point for this tip.

Some questions for you:

When you get off work, is what you want to here “somewhere” radio? You know…generic playlist, generic Content. Or would you rather hear songs that you love, and songs we think you’ll grow to love, and Content that relates to your life, today?

On a great radio station, it’s 5 o’clock HERE. NOW.

God bless you, Jimmy Buffett. And everyone else, wear sunscreen.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #534: A Lesson from Coach Jimmy Johnson

If you’re not familiar with NFL Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson, watch the pregame and halftime shows on Fox. To be brief, Johnson won a National championship in college, then, in just 5 years from starting 1-15, he won back-to-back Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys.

He’s also a powerful motivational speaker, and one thing he told a group of athletes several years ago really struck me: “Fatigue…makes cowards of us all.”

If you’re out of gas in the 4th quarter, you’re liable to lose.

Radio is the same way, but not physically. Since a lot of what we do is repetitive, it’s easy to slip into mental fatigue. Reading that thing on the screen for the 90th time can lead to sounding “dead” or perfunctory. You may paste a smile on it, but since people FEEL far more than they hear, you can’t really hide from everyone.

Keep this in mind: there are people in jobs so much worse than yours, they’d trade places with you in a second. We’re lucky – blessed, actually – to make a living by talking.
Let that thought be your extra mental ‘fuel tank’ when you feel out of gas. Be right here, right now, talking to me when that mic opens. Every time. You can rest during the commercial breaks.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #533: Grammar Police Stuff

“They had to choose between him and I.”
No…just no. It was between him and me. “Between he and I” isn’t right either. “He and I applied for the same job. And it came down to that. They had to choose between him and me.” This is called the object of the preposition.

“And I was like, ‘I don’t want to go,’ and he was like, ‘But you have to.’”
The word “like” flies into every conversation like sand at the beach – useless, but people can’t seem to stop it. Try, “I said, ‘I don’t want to go.’ Then he shouted, ‘But you have to!’”

“So…I went to college on a scholarship.”
Why does everyone start a story with the word “So…?” “So” is the result of something. “I bashed my thumb with a hammer, so I needed a really big Band-Aid.”

All of these things are fine if you’re a 15-year old ‘Valley Girl’ in 1983. But 40 years, later, sounding reasonably educated is a must. If you can’t express yourself in a way that shows that you passed 7th grade English, you may never get that great job that went to someone else. And you may never know why you didn’t get it, because no one’s going to bother to tell you. They’re just going to go on to the next resume or demo.

However, it’s surprising how easy it is to correct things, if you just accept them and work on them. And if you don’t think this stuff matters, then don’t do it. Maybe that’ll work out…but what if it limits you?

This wasn’t meant to be a scolding. Anyone I’ve ever worked with knows that I want everyone to get a great job, and to love doing it. Life is just better when you like what you’re doing. So sound smart. See where that leads.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #532: Talking vs. Talking TO Someone

We’ve all heard the station that thinks talking LOUD works, and that people like that.
And we’ve all heard a massive number of air talents that just read stuff off a computer screen with no emotional investment at all. They rattle it off, then move on the next thing.

Shout, Rattle, and Roll.

These things, of course, do nothing for the listener. (Or a client or a sponsor.)

So here’s this week’s tip – ask yourself this question:

Are you just talking, or are you talking to someone?

Some people don’t sound like they’re talking to anyone, or certainly to no one in particular.
Others do okay, but then go on ‘automatic pilot’ when they read something.

This is the starting place. First you “see” (or at least imagine) the listener. Then you simply talk to that person. Not “announce” or “present” to them. Just talk.

Easy, right?

Yeah, so easy that the finest actors in the world spend years learning how to do it better. (Most of them have a coach.)

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #531: Reach and Frequency

In the olden days, there were two factors that were utmost for a radio station to succeed: Reach, and Frequency.

Reach was about the signal. Without a good signal, it was hard to build a bigger audience.
Frequency wasn’t about where on the dial a station was. It was about what are now called listening “occasions” – how often or how long someone chose to listen to you.

Today’s radio world is more varied in terms of reach. People can listen to online streaming, through your station’s app, or through several different “umbrella” radio apps. The transistor radio of the “Happy Days” generation is now simply your smartphone.

But frequency is still a huge challenge. Because of the way ratings are calculated, several instances of listening add up. It’s not only about someone turning it on and keeping it on. It’s also about someone coming BACK to you after turning it off or surfing for another station.

And the music game has changed, because through Amazon music, Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, etc. it’s now possible for me to hear every song you play WITHOUT you.

The lesson here is a simple one: if you want to be listened to nowadays, just providing the “right” songs isn’t enough anymore. You have to be engaging, entertaining, interesting, and RELEVANT.

Personality is the companion to – and with good formatics, part OF – the “listen”. Without personality, you’re just a playlist.

This doesn’t mean you have to be funny. Laughs are fine, but not required. Being a part of the listener’s day is about what I call “the touchstone” – you and me, connected BY the music and the Content. If you’re just looking for things you can add a punchline to, that’s just an exercise. What MATTERS to the Listener today is what you take, filter it through your own observations, experiences, and opinions, and put on the air.

Surprisingly, a lot of people have no real idea who their target listener is. If you don’t, talk to the PD asap.
Just remember: Everything you do that doesn’t matter (to the Listener)….doesn’t matter.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #530: Why Choose Radio in the First Place?

A lot of young people who do want a career in media aren’t even messing with radio. They only want to work in TV. Or do a podcast. (Everyone and his dog does a podcast. And the dog usually has the more entertaining one. “Today on Barks and Recreation, we’re ruffing out what new flavor we’d like to see in dog biscuits.”)

Seriously, this is bad for radio, because finding a great air talent these days is already hard enough. We need new people to come in, get trained, and shine.

So, to anyone in college right now or someone in a dead-end job thinking about a change, here are three reasons why I think you should consider radio:

1. It’s more intimate than television. Why just read something off a teleprompter? Being on the radio is where we hear YOU, not just the words. Or for that matter, why just run the teleprompter? Radio Production is lots more fun than that.

2. You can do radio until you keel over at the microphone. There’s no age limit. As long as you sound good, you’ll have a job. TV is much more cosmetic-driven, and you can “age out” quickly.

3. You get to do things that are pretty special. Not a lot of jobs offer that. You get to help people, give away prizes, and not have a job that feels like you’re just breaking big rocks into smaller rocks every day. (I once gave away $25,000 to an eight year-old girl on the day before Christmas! What a privilege.)

In my opinion, although there are exceptions, TV tends to be the shallow end of the talent pool. Pretty much anyone with a basic skill set can read and point. Maybe you should aim higher than that.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #529: You Have Ten Seconds

You have ten seconds to “get” me…to make me want to listen to whatever else you have to say.

If you don’t get me in that ten seconds, then nothing else you do matters. It’s simply human nature to decide quickly whether or not something is a waste of time.

So think about what that opening ten seconds of whatever it is you’re going to talk about is going to be BEFORE you open the mic. No matter how good you are, this is something you can improve.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #528: Go, Stop, Go – A Voice Tracking Tip

There are so many voice trackers these days, and if you’re in that world you know that it’s hard to keep improving if you’re not on the air in real time and don’t get any feedback that you can trust. Here’s a simple system I recommend that’ll improve your work and keep you sharp. It’s “go, stop, go.”

Go. Record an hour of breaks.

Stop. Listen back to them, all in a row. The whole hour’s worth of breaks. You’ll pick up on whether you sound repetitive, or if you fall into bad habits like always going down in pitch at the end of a sentence, or sounding like you’re talking – but not necessarily like you’re actually talking TO someone. Recut whatever needs to be better.

Go. Now go forward and cut the next hour.

Rinse and repeat. Do an hour, listen; do an hour, listen. Don’t just cut all of it in one lump and plop it into the system thinking that you “got it”.

An added advantage is that taking that little break after cutting each hour’s worth of audio will refresh you. That’ll help you sound better, too.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.