Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #412: Friend, not Audience

Radio is full of people talking to an audience.

This is a mistake, because we say things differently, more casually, when we’re just talking to a good friend. We repeat points unnecessarily, use language that’s a little too “formal”, and sound just a little distant, when we talk to more than one person.

There is very little space between you and the listener. You’re in my car, two feet away.

ALWAYS say things like you’re talking to ME – a friend – instead of a group of people. Radio is at its best when it’s one-on-one.

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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 #411: The Prime Directive for Content

The Prime Directive was the guiding ‘mission statement’ in Star Trek.

Here’s ours, in music radio:

Whatever you want to say needs to be as good as your best song.
If it’s not, why are you saying it?

This manifests in two ways – Subject matter, and Delivery.

Subject matter should be top of mind, and you want the listener to be able to easily see himself/herself in that situation.

Delivery: “as good as your best song” can be in the WAY that you say something. Sounding like you actually care (with some degree of emotional engagement). Painting a good word picture. Or simply being a good companion to the music, rather than an interruption.

Unless I’m working with you, I can’t tell which of these you need to work on. But I’ll bet there is one.

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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 #382 – Memories and Shared Experiences

When you do something on the air that makes the listener think “Me too,” you hit the jackpot. Memories and shared experiences aren’t just about what happened and when it happened. They’re about the Emotions that people feel when they go (or went) through them.

This is why “interesting” isn’t the same as “relevant”.

When you tap into Emotions, you gain DEPTH.

Most of the subpar shows are just about things, data, facts, and “fluff” srories. These are almost always boring. But when an emotion is called up, people “lean in” with their ears.

Emotions are the goal of everything that we do.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #373 – Funny Isn’t the Goal

We all want to be entertaining on the air. But “funny” isn’t the only thing that entertains. And for that matter, “punch line” humor is dead, anyway.
It’s the UNEXPECTED remark that cracks people up. But great vocabulary, the ability to paint a picture, and vulnerability are all ingredients of “entertaining”, too. Think “A Christmas Story” about the kid and the B. B. gun. (God bless you, Jean Shepherd, for writing that.)

In coaching hundreds of Personality morning shows, I think these may be two of the main things I’ve learned:

1. Step One is never just to try and be funny. Step One is to be Relevant. THAT’S ALWAYS THE GOAL. Then – and only then – should you turn your sense of humor and your personality traits into something to do on the air. But if the listener can’t see himself/herself in it, then it’s just another deejay telling a joke. Ho hum. (You know, I can just click Amazon Prime on my phone or iPad and see Jim Gaffigan. He’s funnier than you.)

2. You can’t MAKE someone funny. (Partner, caller, etc.) But that can actually work, and become humorous if you put it in the right context. Use your imagination. Instead of going for a joke, go for a funny REACTION.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #368 -Mean It

When you open that mic, the most important thing to do is what seems like the easiest one: MEAN IT.

But this is actually very difficult to do without some training. If you sound even the slightest bit insincere, or like you’re just serving up information with no real emotional investment in it…well, that’s why everyone’s impression of an air talent is that kind of pukey, surface-level-but-no-deeper “announcer guy” (or vapid nitwit).

ESPECIALLY if you’ve been blessed with an exceptional voice, remember that Emotions top “a great voice” every time. If you sound like you actually MEAN what you’re saying, your listener will feel it. If you don’t, in baseball terminology you “just fouled one off your own foot.” A lack of credibility is never anyone’s first choice.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #348 – Don’t Get Too Far Off the Subject

As you develop your storytelling skills, be wary of getting too far off the subject.

I recall a Yankees vs. Twins baseball game a couple of seasons ago. The difference between the Yankees broadcast team (all of whom are excellent) and the Minnesota Twins broadcasters was never more evident than when a Twins announcer – during an inning – talked ad nauseum to a lady with a bird refuge. ???

I was dumbfounded. It served no purpose whatsoever. A way off target “human interest” interview that went nowhere and had me shouting at the TV. The only thing I could think to ask her that would have been relevant to baseball is “Remember when Randy Johnson exploded that seagull?”

(You Tube it if you haven’t seen it.)

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #338 – It’s Not the Control Room Show

At industry functions or during market visits, I’m often asked “Where do you start?” Especially by young air talents.

Here’s the answer: It’s not the Control Room Show. It’s the CAR show. That’s where the listener is. Picture his or her environment, then place yourself IN it.

Little tiny things can destroy that feeling. Here are just three examples…

Saying “out there” (like “out there in Plano”) or any “there”-type references, like “up in x” or “down in x.” This just tells the Listener that he or she is somewhere ELSE, and you’re in a little room, miles and miles away.

Talking “plural”. This takes away from you and me, in the car. Examples: “For all the listeners,” “if any of you,” “some of you…” etc. Talk to ME. ONE person.

Generic Content. I don’t CARE what happened to someone in Wyoming unless I live in Wyoming. As the great Lee Abrams points out, no station seems to be claiming the city, like “Chicago’s…(name of the station)” anymore.
I can’t understand why anyone would give up the local connection voluntarily. Be from HERE, and be PROUD of that.

And be right here with me, in my car…or not. Your choice.
(Choose wisely.)

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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 #310 – Why You Want To Talk To ONE Person

Every time I hear an air talent talk to a “plurality” with words like “folks,” “ladies,” “all of you” (or “some of you”), etc. I want to call them up and do a coaching session right NOW on why this is ineffective.

Maybe you can best understand it through Bob Dylan’s acceptance speech when he received the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. In part, he said “As a performer, I’ve played for 50,000 people and I’ve played for 50 people, and I can tell you that it is harder to play for 50 people. 50,000 people have a singular persona; not so with 50. (With fifty) they can perceive things more clearly. Your honesty and how it relates to the depth of your talent is tried.” He added, “The fact that the Nobel committee is so small is not lost on me.”

The smaller the target, the more clear the perception, the more you can reveal. “Hello, Cleveland” doesn’t address anyone in particular.

When I worked at a female-targeted station, I just talked to my wife. When I worked a male-targeted station, I talked to my cousin Ricky, who was like a brother to me.

Put a picture of someone who personifies your target listener in the Control Room where you can’t miss it – like taping it to a chair in front of you.

Now….reveal.

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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 #282 – Your Show’s Dual Purpose

Your show, no matter what format you’re in, has a dual purpose:

First, to talk to the person who just tuned in; and second, to talk to the person who’s been listening to you for a few minutes. Their needs are different.

If I hear two breaks in a row on the same subject (like a reset to get into a phone call), I don’t want to hear redundancy or repetitive wording, because that’s boring.

And if I only hear ONE break, you can’t just abruptly continue something you did in the previous break, because I DIDN’T hear that one.

So it’s all about the reset – specifically about the language you use. You can’t just use the same “intro” you used the first time, or the listener who heard the previous break will just think you’re on autopilot. And you should word it so NO prior knowledge is required for someone who just joined your show to understand what you’re talking about.

It’s an art, and one of the main things I work on with people I coach. You’d be surprised how many people don’t even hear themselves blathering out the exact same setup in a follow-up break – or even worse, they DO hear it, but just take the easiest, most mindless road possible. That’s a good way to lose listeners.

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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.