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 #297 – Producer, or just a Board Op?

The description “Producer” seems to be thrown around pretty loosely these days. So let me try to help you with what a Producer really should be:

A true show producer is a right-hand man (or woman), an extra set of hands and feet, and a resource in finding material, in addition to the right “framing” for something (music, sound bites, etc.).

A great Producer should have superior Production skills, too.

And you want a Producer to be a source of feedback, so a Talent has someone he or she can count on to weigh in on whether something is a good “fit” for the show, or in some instances, will even work at all.

Most producers I see work with morning shows, although there are some exceptions. But a lot of these so-called “Producers” are pretty much nothing more than board ops.

When one of the shows I coach is looking for a Producer, we start there: we want a Producer. If we needed another air talent, that’s what we’d be looking for. (Frustrated air talents usually don’t make great Producers.)

Editorial comment:

I really don’t like – and have never liked – the idea of a Producer being a board op. I don’t like the idea of ANYONE running the board instead of one of the air talents. If for no other reason, it’s really hard to get the split-second timing it takes to master the “First Exit” if you have to point to somebody else to hit the button for you.

A great Producer can be a valuable asset. But be sure that your description of Producer is an accurate one.

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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 #296 – What You Can Take from Super Bowl LIII

It’s so easy for an air talent to think “I have to do something BIG to stand out against the competition,” and yes, radio is all about creating memorable moments that make people want to come back and listen to you again tomorrow. However, as New England showed against the Rams in Super Bowl LIII, you don’t want to go outside your comfort zone or change your identity to accomplish that.

Once again this year, the Patriots demonstrated that you win by doing the right thing at the right time. That’s what puts you on top. So here’s what you can take away from the Super Bowl, in radio terms…

Things to stay away from:

Don’t try to cram in too much over a song intro.

Don’t try for a second punch line. 99% of the time, that second line will not be as good as the first. Stop trying too hard.

Lose the thought that 3 minutes (or more) is a decent length for a Content break; it’s actually half that…or less.

Things to remember:

Do what YOU do best. (You may need coaching to realize what it is. Most talents do.)

Trust that it WILL be enough…that it WILL work. That confidence comes across.

Forget imitating anyone else or stealing someone else’s bit or punch line. Come up with things that not everyone else will do or say.

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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 #295 – Seeing Through the Listener’s Eyes

This past weekend, the fine actor Alan Alda accepted the Screen Actors Guild’s Life Achievement Award, saying “When we get a chance to act, it’s our job, at least in part, to get inside a character’s head, and to search for a way to see life from that person’s point of view. It may never be more urgent to see the world through another person’s eyes. And when the culture is divided so sharply, actors can help, at least a little, by doing what we do.”

I agree. So did C. S. Lewis, who wrote: “My own eyes are not enough for me. I will see through the eyes of others.”

Part of our job should be to see through the listener’s eyes – and not just the P-1 devoted listener, but also the person who just hit the “scan” button and it landed on you.

Great radio is performance art. And anyone who’s worked with me knows that’s the way I approach it. As Alan Alda said at the end of his acceptance speech, “The nice part is it’s fun to do it. So my wish for all of us is: Let’s stay playful, let’s have fun, and let’s keep searching. You can’t solve everything, but it wouldn’t hurt.”

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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 #294 – The Lone Ranger, the Silver Bullet, and You

Leading up to last Halloween, a show I work with did a wonderful break that leapt out of the radio about Trick-or-Treating in a Halloween mask. After talking about how restrictive one could be, one member of the team did a “trick or treat” delivery like his face was being smashed in by the mask. It was really funny and SO visual.

Then his partner followed up with how it could have been raining, and did a rain sound effect.

While well-intentioned, this violates my “fire one bullet” philosophy. Think of it like the Lone Ranger. Part of his “legend” was that he used silver bullets. As a kid, I thought “those must be really expensive, so that’s probably why he’s such a good shot.” After all, you wouldn’t want to waste those silver bullets.

Most air talents keep trying for one more laugh, like an amateur on an “Open Mic” night at a comedy club. But for 99% of jocks, you need to remember that you’re not Jim Gaffigan or Jerry Seinfeld. No one paid to see you. One bullet is probably all you’re going to get. So fire it, then move along. If you do have a second thought that you think is valid, do a second break later and fire THAT bullet.

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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 #293 – How to Use Texts or Emails on the Air

I hear so many people using a text or email as the ending of something. And a lot of stations have gone way overboard in soliciting them.

But this is one of those things that seems like a good idea, but it’s too broad a concept to play to radio’s strengths.

Here’s what I coach:

Texts (or emails) are only to be used as springboards for something YOU do that’s creative. They’re not a be-all or end-all in themselves. So rather than using a text or email as the “destination” for something, you should use those as the START of something. I didn’t tune in to hear what the faceless “Jennifer” from Highland Park has to say, I tuned in to hear YOU – the trained, articulate, entertaining Personality – have to say. Because, let’s face it, “real” people are usually not very witty or clever or funny at all. Sure, they can be once in a while, but even then, I don’t want to hear you just read a response. How lazy can you get? Why don’t you just read the newspaper on the air if that’s all the work ethic you have?

Plus, I believe it’s a mistake to encourage people to text or email INSTEAD of calling, because radio is about airing AUDIO. Do you want to hear me interview an artist, or would you rather hear me read an interview with the artist out of a magazine? Print is a poor substitute for Sound. Let’s keep our eye on the ball.

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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 #292 – Don’t Itemize. Summarize.

Prior to this past Christmas, I heard a talent talking about how his whole family was going to another state, where they hadn’t gathered in years, for the holidays.

But the story really bogged down when he started itemizing everyone who would be there. One sister, her husband, and her two children; her brother, his wife, and their three kids; her, her husband and their three daughters; and an aunt that they hadn’t seen in years.

No one’s reading the guest list. Summarize, instead of Itemize. “Three families, an aunt, 13 people in all…”

The Art of Storytelling lies partly in honing things down to their most concise version, then just letting it breathe a little bit. But when you get too detailed – especially about people your listener doesn’t know (or care about), the story becomes rudderless and lacks momentum.

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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 #291 – Why it may be better to NOT intro Traffic

(Larry) “And now let’s check that drive into work again. Here’s Don Googleheimer….”

(Don, the Traffic guy) “Thanks, Teresa. Good morning, everybody…”

I actually heard this the other day. The male half of a morning team intros the Traffic, then the Traffic guy thanks his female partner.

This shows the listener that it’s prerecorded. Or that the Traffic guy isn’t listening.

(And he needs to stop saying “everyone” or “everybody,” too; stay Singular. Talk to ME. And it also told me that if the morning team people DID listen to how the recorded Traffic report started, they forgot that “Teresa” needed to intro it. So many things to coach; so little time.)

So I recommended what I’ve done since about 25 years ago, simply getting to the end of your Content, then hitting a “Vroooom!” sound effect over the start of the Traffic music bed, and cutting right into the update with no intro or phony-sounding chit-chat. That makes the information actually be of service to the listener, and gives you more Momentum.

Oh, and make sure the Traffic person gives his or her name at the end. That covers all the bases.

Some stations that make a big deal out of “Traffic on the 8’s” or whatever may not want to do it this way. That’s fine, if you’ve built up that image. But most music stations should do the “Vroom” thing instead. (You could use a “beep-beep” sound instead. Or screeching brakes, if you want to add a little abrupt humor.)

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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 #290 — The Twelve-Ounce Glass

The other day, I heard a guy who’s quite good RUSHING through every break. Talking to him later, I found that he’d gone through a series of really stressful things, leading to his getting back home at 4 AM, then having to go in and substitute for someone on the air just a very few hours later. In trying to overcome sleep deprivation, he went the “energy” route. But it didn’t really work, because the listener can almost always tell when we’re overcompensating, or just not quite “in the pocket”.

This is what I told him:

A 12-ounce glass won’t hold 14 ounces of Dr. Pepper. Pouring it faster won’t help.

Keep that in mind the next time you’re not physically at your best. Stay ear-friendly. Fit the glass.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2018 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #289 – Talent versus Music

A station I’ve worked with for years now faces a huge challenge. Their longtime morning man and PD is leaving the station after many years of exemplary service and success. At the same time, they’re being pressured by a relatively new GM to get ratings and revenue up, and part of that is to reduce expenses by going to fewer air talents being employed (doubling up on a jock by putting him or her on two different stations in the cluster) and going to more voice-tracked shows on the weekends.

So I want to speak into that as a bonus for any PD or GM reading this, while at the same time focusing on what will help any talent under the gun from his boss to do better.

First, if you live by math (ratings statistics and projections) as your starting place to the extent that you think more voice-tracked shifts are an answer, that’s not gonna fly. In radio today, both in the short and the long run, Talent doesn’t DELIVER the product, talent IS the product. If you go to more voice-tracked shows with no compelling Content, you’re just another playlist. People remember what PEOPLE SAY, not where they heard a song. Songs are everywhere – Spotify, Pandora, iTunes music, Amazon music, terrestrial radio, etc. Memorable STATIONS create memorable MOMENTS, and it takes talent to come up with those.

Look at professional Sports as an example. Spend the money; get the players. You can’t win with bargain basement rosters. And no talent likes doing a second shift after pouring everything he/she has into the primary one.

Now, as an air talent, here’s your challenge: Deliver memorable moments. Not everything has to be some fantastic production or be knee-slapping funny; but the listener deserves having you be PRESENT in every moment you’re on the air, because a lot can be said with your inflection, your mood, even your silence. But when you’re on autopilot, we can ALL TELL.

Radio isn’t just about Sales; it’s about creating something saleable.

And Talent isn’t just about walking through a shift; it’s about creating a SHOW.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2018 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

 

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #288 – What a fan fight at a football game has to do with you

On Sunday, December 2nd, 2018, two fans got into a fight in the stands of a Pittsburgh Steelers game. One guy said something. The guy he said it to tellingly removed his cap, then head-butted the first guy. Guy #1’s girlfriend and several other fans got involved.

Not exactly untypical, but as I read about it (and watched the video), something the writer of the article, Jay Busbee said, really caught my attention:

“This is why nobody brings kids to football games anymore, and why nobody under the age of 40 spends any time on Facebook. They know enough not to get caught up in whatever messes the ‘olds’ are creating.”

The “olds”? Wow.

Now whether you agree with the Facebook statement or not, it’s still something to consider. I’ve been coaching people on how TO use – and now NOT to use – Facebook postings for years. The gist of it is that if a comment is relevant to something top of mind TODAY, you might want to use it, but random postings are virtually useless, because Relevance is King when it comes to Content.

I’m not saying your listeners don’t still use Facebook, but we should always be looking at the next big thing. Because habitually when radio does that, they find out that it’s already here.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2018 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.