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 #579: Observational or Experiential

There are only two basic types of Content: it’s either observational (you saw it or read it), or it’s experiential (you actually did it).

So…your initial camera angle will be either Observational or Experiential, and either way will work. It’s your choice.

But remember this: no matter which path you choose, some of YOU – what you think or feel about it – HAS to be in there, or it’s just quacking into the wind.

Side bar: This is the great mistake that people make by thinking that social media posts are “Grade A” Content. If you haven’t actually seen it or experienced it, you have no way to connect with the listener. Be wary of the “click bait” disease. Just because there’s a posting about it, and a bunch of people with a lot of time on their hands commented on it, does NOT mean that it’ll automatically work on the air.

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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 #578: The Two Goals When You Open the Mic

It’s very possible to become overwhelmed by what you’re required to do by the higher-ups. Research studies, guidelines for Content, listener profiles that only provide one side of the equation, etc. can hamstring an air talent to the point that you can feel like there’s nothing you can say. Or you second-guess things, wondering if you’re meeting the sometimes lofty guidelines that are presented to you.

So, let me simplify things for you.

Everything we say on the air should either [A] reinforce what the station is all about, or [B] be about what we have in common with the listener.
There is nothing else.

The brilliant PD’s know this, and don’t get sidetracked with too many thoughts in mind.

Who are you? Why should I listen to you? How are you like me? Those are the unspoken questions in the listener’s mind.

Simple. Have a great day!

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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 #577: A Simple Guide to Giving the Weather

It’s a shame that so few music stations do a good job of giving the weather forecast. An air talent clonking through it like it’s the biggest chore in the world is a drag, but by far, the more irritating form is the person who has to give every single little detail. Let me help you with this…

UNLESS YOU’RE FACING SEVERE WEATHER, the forecast should be short and sweet. What’s the high today, the low tonight, maybe the high tomorrow, and tell me if it’s going to rain (or snow). That’s it.

No “Partly cloudy with a thirty percent chance of showers today, then turning to mostly cloudy tonight and a forty percent chance of more showers or thunderstorms. Tomorrow, again mostly cloudy with a fifty percent chance of showers. High today in the high seventies, then we’ll see an overnight low in the upper 60s. Tomorrow’s high will be around 80. Currently, it’s 79 in Saddlebag, in Turkey Beak City it’s 76, and here at the KRKL studios, it’s 77.”

In case you think I’m joking, what set off this review is that I did actually hear a 111-word forecast recently!

Let’s make it easy. …4 guidelines:

(1) Anything less than 50% is “a chance of rain.” Anything higher is “a good chance of rain.” I don’t care about the amount of cloudiness. (“Cloudy,” “some clouds,” or “clear” is definitive without being analytical.)

(2) “Currently” is an unnecessary word. Of course it’s “currently”. You wouldn’t say “and two days ago, it was 75.”

(3) Pick a number. It’s not “in the high seventies.” It’s “High 78” or “high near 78.” (Then if it doesn’t make it to that temperature, God changed it. But at least you knew what it was supposed to be. Same with the low. Not “low thirties.” Instead, use “low 32” or low near 32.”) This sounds more accurate, and lends credibility. (“About” or “around” just says “I don’t really know.”)

(4) No one cares what the temperature is at your studio (wherever that is), or at the airport. I’m not in your building, and if I’m at the airport, I’m leaving town, and I no longer care what the temperature is.

Hope this helps.

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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 $576: The First Secret to a Great Team Show

In the last tip, I talked about how the old Jack Benny formula (giving each member of the cast or a guest the spotlight) applies today.

Let’s take it one step further – how a slight modification of that principle is the secret to being a great team show.

It’s simple: If each member of the team does his or her best to make the OTHER person sound good, you’re going to be fine. If that’s not the case, there’s an imbalance of power, and that doesn’t work nearly as well.

I did five team shows in my on-air career, and have coached hundreds of them. I can spot whether or not a team show “has it” in ONE break. So can the 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 #575: How the Jack Benny Format Applies to Radio Today

If you’ve never heard it (or seen his TV show on some classic channel), the Jack Benny Show was groundbreaking in its day. And it still has a basic formula that I assure you WILL work today: he made everyone else the star.

Whether it was his announcer, his wife, a singer, a guest, or any other cast member, Benny was quite willing to take a back seat. He never minded being the butt of a joke, overshadowed by another comedian, or made to look like a fool.

The result? People LOVED HIM. Yes, him. They liked the other cast members, too, but people felt sympathy for – or empathy with – him.

I can’t stress how important this was in my own career, and how many people I’ve coached to use this technique. It always works.

Put your ego aside.

The more you willingly give the spotlight to someone else, the more people will like you.

One caution: In a team show environment, remember that the “side people” can’t completely take over the show. The headliner still has to shine, 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 #574: The Best Phone Call Tip

Music format or Talk format – it doesn’t matter. There’s a real art to creating a phone call “culture” – which I’ve written some about before. But the actual taking of a phone call (or airing one live) can often be messed up in the first few seconds.

Here’s how to avoid that, in two easy steps:

  1. Greet (or bring on) the caller.
  2. Then SHUT UP.

From that beginning, you can then move on to wherever the call needs to go.

Here’s why I recommend this – most phone calls go awry when I can’t hear what the caller is saying. Two people talking at the same time (or one being buried by the phone interface) is unlistenable.

Note: I strongly urge shows in music formats to always tape and edit phone calls before they get on the air.

For Talk formats, live calls are even more likely to suffer when there’s talkover. Be Patient. A second or two of dead air won’t matter if the call is good.

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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 #573: The Road to Brevity

Brevity is the most useful skill you can develop.

Sadly, instead of brevity, we often get bloviating. So let me help you with what I recently wrote in a coaching session recap…

Thinking “How few words can I use to say this?” is the road to brevity. As you police yourself to get rid of repetition and edit yourself better, your longer breaks will actually stand out more, as a result. (Funny how that works.)

Making a point – ONE point – succinctly is hard for some air talents, but one salient point is all the listener is going to remember, so why not make it the only point?
Your show will then unfold in segments, “episodes” that you’re sharing with the Listener today. Each “scene” a part of the whole. A new movie each day, made up of what you, in your life, share with the listener’s life.

All the other Content is comprised of what you have to do – promoting things the station is doing, contests, etc.

If you want to make it easy for yourself, this is how. And it’s easy!

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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 #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.