Tommy Kramer Tip #213 – Celebrate Your Quirkiness

Okay, today – after we celebrated our freedom with July 4th cookouts, ball games, fireworks, etc. – let’s add one more step: Celebrate Your Quirkiness.

I’m not talking about inventing some bit for on-air. I’m talking about using the things that define you – the things that are sort of private.

In one of my earliest tips, “The 5 Subjects”, I outline [1] Jobs stuff/wallet/economy; [2] the Entertainment world; [3] Relationships, [4] “The Buzz” – THE thing that everyone’s talking about today (which could come under one of the other categories); and [5] Things that ‘grow out of the show’. That 5th one is the one that’s the most difficult to define for people, because it’s completely organic. THAT’S what this week’s tip is about. Two examples:

1. Brant Hansen is a brilliant mind, and is definitely different from anyone else I’ve ever coached in the Contemporary Christian format. This format has been traditionally seen as lacking much genuine personality, but Brant and a few others have been pioneers in turning that around. Once, when we were still getting to know each other, it came up that I play guitar. Brant mentioned that he plays the accordion. I then told him an ancient joke – “what’s the difference between a snake lying dead in the middle of the road and an accordion player lying dead in the middle of the road? The snake was probably on his way to a gig.”

It wasn’t long before Brant started playing his accordion on the air, as part of a contest. Cute, odd, but HIS.

2. Howard Clark was one of the greats, part of the original KFRC staff in San Francisco when consultant Bill Drake’s Top 40 stations ruled the earth. Late in his career, Howard came back home to work in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, and had a profound impact on me. One day, I was listening to “Hired” (as he called himself on occasion) and a song ended, then a recorded announcement by the huge-voiced Charlie Van Dyke came on and said, “And now, Howard Clark looks at the weather…”

Then you heard Howard’s chair squeak, a few steps taken across a floor, a door open, then Howard walking waaaaaaay down a lonnnnng hallway, the back door opening (a creaking screen door that hadn’t been oiled since 1957), then Howard’s voice muttering “Mmm hmm……….yep……..”

….and then you heard the back door creak shut, Howard walking the 50 steps back down the hallway, the Control Room door closing, we heard a few more steps, then his chair squeaked, then Charlie Van Dyke’s voice said, “This has been ‘Howard Clark looks at the weather’…” Then a station jingle played, and a song started.

No forecast. No temperatures “at the airport.” Just that little moment.

I still think of these two things, years later.
What have you done that’s quirky – that’s really you, and ONLY you – for your listeners to remember?

DO SOMETHING. Maybe someone will notice you. You can’t get Arbitron diaries or PPM devices without people.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #156 — The Tease Madness

Okay, it’s time to deal with the current thinking on teases, versus what actually works. Here are some excerpts from a couple of memos that real living, breathing Program Directors have given to their air talent recently…

“Eliminate as much as possible ‘I’ and ‘We’ and instead use ‘You’.”
Nothing wrong with that, until this PD illustrates just how to do it:

“You’ll be talking about our next story at work today.”
There’s no way you could possibly know what I’ll be talking about at work today (it could be, astonishingly, WORK related), and you need to STOP trying to tell the Listener what to think.

“You’re gonna love our new game, ‘Scratch and Sniff Audio’ in the next ten minutes.”
Again, you don’t know that I’m going to “love” it. My reaction (at least the one I can print) is “Meh…”…followed by a loud “click” as I punch another button on my radio.

“The thing most women do in the car that might be WORSE than texting and driving. You might be guilty of it, ladies, and we’ll find out in ten minutes.”
No, YOU may find out, but I don’t really give a crap. And I’m not “ladies.” Talk to ONE person. Don’t throw me into a “collective” that I didn’t ask to be part of. This destroys radio’s most unique strength – the one-on-one connection with the listener.

“Feeling smart today? The list of the Top 10 Smartest Cities is out.”
The answer to every question you ever ask on the air is either “NO” or “I don’t CARE.” And I already saw the list. EVERYBODY who cared already saw the list. It came up on the home page of every website, or on my iPhone – and it was ONLY THERE TO TAKE UP SPACE BETWEEN THE ADS.

“Would you like to take a break from parenting?”

(NO, I’d like to take a break from being asked rhetorical questions by an idiot who’s “pretending” to talk to me.)
“What the majority of parents are doing to get that break, in 7 minutes.”
This is too exact a time line. “In the next ten minutes” is what you want to say. ESPN tried this “Joe Namath interview in 13 minutes” type of thing – and it BOMBED. The whole PURPOSE of giving a Time Line in the first place is to tell me how long I have to listen to make SURE that I hear it. If I tune in (or stick around until) 7 minutes from now, you’d better by God be doing it. The minute you don’t, and I hear something ELSE when that’s supposed to be on, you’ve LIED to me – and I’ll never believe anything you say again.

Here’s what you can and should promote. (Notice that I don’t even USE the word “tease” in coaching.)
1 A contest. When I can win some money or concert tickets might actually matter to me.
2. A feature of the show. “The Hollywood Dish is next.”
3. When a guest will be on.
4. How I can find out more about a station event, or see video of something, or participate in something, on the station’s website or your Facebook page.
5. MAYBE…promote a new song by a core artist coming up. But even then, only do it when you’ve stopped down, NOT over another song, because then, the implied message is “since we know this song isn’t really very good, we’re going to try to get you to hang around by promoting a different one.”

That’s it. Nothing else is worth promoting.

Stop The Tease Madness.
If it matters to me (as a listener), it works. If it doesn’t (and just teasing some nebulous thing you’re going to talk about, like “What happened to Corkhead at the mall yesterday…in ten minutes” DOESN’T), then it doesn’t—and no amount of teasing will MAKE it matter. Other things should just come up naturally in the conversation – you know, like in real life.

Yes, I realize there’s a whole school of Programmers and Consultants that think otherwise, because of some sideways, momentary, imagined indicator in PPM. But don’t even get me started on how many holes there are in THAT methodology. Voltaire, the giant band-aid, anyone?

The biggest problem with the “always do a tease” mentality is that you remove any element of Surprise from the show. I seriously doubt if anyone would have gone to see “The Force Awakens” if a crawl came across the bottom of the screen, or one of the characters teased “Han Solo dies…in the next ten minutes.”

Here’s what actually works better than any attempt to manipulate the listener: say something really interesting or entertaining every single time you open the mic. And only promote things that he or she really cares about.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2016 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #96 – Teasing vs. Promoting ahead

“Tease it, then do it.” We’ve all heard this for far too long.

First of all, there’s a big difference between Teasing and Promoting. The fact is, most teases are meaningless. The next time you ponder whether or not to tease something, think about this: what if I don’t like what you’re teasing? Then, Elvis has left the building.
Plus, we don’t tease things in real life, so why do it on the air? If we were having dinner together, you’d think it was nuts if I said “my wife Kathy will say something, right after she finishes buttering that roll.”

And here’s a huge factor—you never want to tease Content, just something that you’re going to talk about. “I’ll tell you about the cancerous tumor my aunt has, comin’ up” is just not going to make anyone listen. If you want your show to sound real and conversational, you should just bring something up, so it doesn’t sound calculated. (Although you can keep the tumor thing to yourself, please.)

Add in the fact that if you oversell something, it’s likely to fail to live up to expectations, and it’s easy to see why you should put less pressure on yourself and just let things flow. Look, I don’t want to know everything you’re going to do in advance. Surprise me once in a while.

Promoting is different. However, there’s a very short list of what I believe is worth promoting: [1] Contests, [2] when I can find out more about a station promotion that I might like to be part of, or [3] when a special guest will be on. Very little else, if anything, matters to the listener. We all know that most plugs for stuff on the website don’t really make many people go to it. At most stations I work with, You Tube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all way more important than the station’s website.

Radio stations keep trying to manipulate or monopolize the listener’s time against his/her will. But the listener is in charge, and growing more used to the “on demand” part of life every day. When you only promote things that actually matter to the listener, believe me, you’ll stand out in the crowd.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #70 – What great radio does right

It’s all too easy when you write as many tips as I do to dwell on seeming negatives or weaknesses. But that’s not the purpose of coaching. Yes, you want to shore up a weak foundation. But after that, the main job is to find what a talent does best and push those qualities into the spotlight.

Then there’s getting consistent—really consistent, where it’s impossible to have a bad day.

And the final level is “How high can we fly?” It’s all about what you can keep coming up with that’s fresh and new, and sets you apart from everyone else in a way that’s almost like waiting for the next new album your favorite band will come up with.

Here’s what great radio does. It gives you what you expect, but with surprises built in. It’s consistent, but not predictable. In every market, there are a couple of stations that get this, and they rule the roost. A bad book can’t bring them down, their Promotions never fail, and the listener always has a sense of “I wonder what they’ll do next?”

That can be your station. If you don’t have one, get a great Consultant; not just someone off a list, but someone who’s helped other stations that you admire reach a very high level of performance. If you have the money, hire a Talent Coach. It’s easy to think you don’t really need one, but name a major league baseball team without a batting coach. (Or ask Tom Brady or Peyton Manning about their quarterback coaches.) With a good coach—not someone who controls your job, but a real coach—you’ll find that the process is so dear and so revealing that you don’t want to go it alone.

Then work every single time the mic opens to welcome in the person who’s just hearing you for the first time, and to sound natural, like a friend talking to a friend, instead of making ‘announcements’ and ‘presentations’. THAT’S what great radio does right.

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Tommy Kramer
Radio Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2014 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.