Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #436: The Learner’s Heart

One of the benefits of doing this talent coaching thing for a long time is that you learn how to appraise talent quickly. After just a couple of coaching sessions, one thing always stands out: the person with the learner’s heart is going to get better. The person whose ego gets in the way of learning isn’t going to progress much unless that changes.

So which one are you? Are you open to suggestion, to change, to experimenting? You can still have your opinions, of course, but to have that be a closed circuit just means standing still. If nothing else, getting thoughts from a different perspective from someone you trust will make your decision-making quicker and more certain.

Lebron James has a coach. So does Tom Brady. So has every Olympic champion.

– – – – – – –
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 #432: MEAN Something

There’s this great scene in the old Paul Newman/Robert Redford movie “The Sting”. Redford’s character is questioning about the scam they’re pulling on the bad guy (played by Robert Shaw), and asks, “Do you think it’ll work?” Newman’s character answers, “Relax, kid. We had him twenty years ago when he decided to BE somebody.”

This has actually become a microcosm of the world we’re living in. Everyone hungers to “BE something” even if it’s just for a few seconds. A Twitter posting, a picture that gets “liked” by some social media throng.

Let’s apply this to radio. In coaching over 1700 air talents, I’ve found that it’s always a challenge when someone says he or she wants to ‘be’ somebody (to the listener). While you can certainly strive for that, that’s the shallow end of the pool. The real aim should be to MEAN something to the listener. When you’re the person who weighs in on what’s relevant in my life consistently, that emotional connection IS the point. You don’t just have ‘name value’; you have actual value.

– – – – – – –
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 #421: Proximity, and what it Means for you

It’s probably only natural to not want to be coached. But the air talents I’ve encountered who feel that way (at first) are usually the ones who just don’t see past trying to be funny, or think that “trending” in social media is a goal. (It’s not. Connecting with the Listener is.) And those things will come as a byproduct of your skills improving.

I’ve always seen coaching – at least the way I do it – as being like an acting coach working with actors, and most of the things I teach come from an acting or writing background, in addition to decades of radio experience. We start with the radio stuff – how to do the “basics” (giving the station’s name, artist info, time, etc.), then, when that’s really solid and varied, it’s all about the Art.

So here’s a lesson: Proximity is the decider of delivery.

Think about it. Where you “see” the listener being determines how you say something. If you see me just a couple of feet away from you in my car, that’s one thing. If you picture me as 10 feet away in an office full of noise, that’s different. Or maybe you picture me driving in traffic with my head on a swivel, trying not to get killed by some clod with his ear buds in, yakking on the phone while he eats a breakfast burrito. (You may need to talk louder.)

If you don’t know, make it up. Give yourself a proximity “setting” that fits what you’re going to talk about. All of a sudden, you’re not just another ‘voice saying words’ in the background. You’re talking to me. Every great talent – and every great station – has this ingredient.

– – – – – – –
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 #414: Why Coaching is a Good Idea

It’s always amazed me how some people resist coaching. Where would any great actor or any great athlete be without coaching?

They’d be in the minor leagues, or be selling shoes to make money while they did Shakespeare to 10 people in a park for free.

Critique and Coaching are not the same thing, so there is that. Some people have had the “under the microscope” experience that makes them feel like they can’t do anything right. But coaching – real coaching – is always about finding what you do best. The rest is just “weeding the garden”.

Yes, you do want to master “the basics” and understand structure and vocal technique and a hundred other things. But if you’re not trying to identify and cultivate what you do best, you’re not growing. You’re just doing the same show every day.

So if that didn’t sway you, here’s the short version: Not being boring and predictable; that’s why coaching is a good idea.

– – – – – – –
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 #398: Never Underestimate Companionship

There’s so much emphasis put on specific areas of Content. Stories. Stuff from social media posts, blogs, Pinterest…whatever. You can become inundated with well-intended thoughts that lead to aimless, largely punch-less stuff on the air.

Don’t forget about why radio succeeded in the first place: Companionship.
It’s still a huge factor. The morning team that entertains you. The midday jock that’s always in a good mood and makes you laugh now and then. The afternoon jock who makes slogging home after work easier.

I coach hundreds of things to make that factor ever-present in not just what you do, but in how you do it – carving out an identity along the way.

Remember: “If I want to spend time with you”…is the listener’s bottom line.

– – – – – – –
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 #392: The Gordon McLendon News Test

It’s said that radio pioneer Gordon McLendon used to put prospective news people through a simple, but incredibly revealing test.

He’d hand you a story off the AP wire and say “Read this…to yourself.” After the talent read it (silently), Gordon would turn the page face down on the desk and say, “Now tell me what it said.”

He wanted Storytellers. Writers who could take “facts” and turn them into stories, with an “arc” to them.

All the McLendon stations had incredible News talents who, even in Top 40 (the format that he and Todd Storz invented), compelled listeners to stay with the station instead of going somewhere else to keep up with what was happening.

Obviously, this isn’t just a technique to use for News. It plays into everything we do. Any idiot can read to me, but not everyone can ENGAGE me.

This is THE point of even being on the air in the first place.

– – – – – – –
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 #381 – What you CAN do that TV CAN’T do

One of the main arguments against radio today is that “people would rather watch TV.” Or stare at a computer, tablet, or cell phone screen. For our purposes, let’s just use TV as an example.

I watch an NBA game, and BETWEEN TWO FREE THROWS (!) they run a commercial. (The game itself, of course, is shrunk down so that my 70-inch screen might just as well be the 24-inch screen I had in 1988.) This is SO invasive. Announcers in every sport talk right up to the moment a pass or pitch is thrown. And baseball has been so ruined by TV directors that you see a pitcher, then – in the middle of his windup – they change cameras to show the batter, then another switch is flipped and you see a player field the ball. They could all be from separate games, and you wouldn’t even know it. And NFL games? Don’t even start. TV directors are so intent on “filling the screen” that you can see the pores of a quarterback’s face. I want to see more of the field (or court) so I can see where each player IS, and what they’re doing.

Here’s where radio is still magic: we’re not bound by what the Director decides to show. We can create “word pictures” that those screaming, big-voiced announcers don’t seem able to do, and we don’t have to listen to some broken-down ex-player describe things in such minute detail and in terminology that we don’t understand. We can do whatever we want to make something visceral and emotional.

But only IF:

*You’re not just some idiot reading crap off a computer screen with no emotional investment in what you’re saying.
*Or you’re not just endlessly intro’ing artists and song titles. (BORING.)
*Or what you’re talking about is timely, and connects with the listener’s life.

You have everything you need to succeed and be a true Personality, someone who seems like a good friend…someone I (as a listener) want to hear give your “take” on a subject.

I get asked a lot about what one thing I’d say to someone who hasn’t “gotten it” yet, and the answer is always the same: WAKE UP and say something worth hearing. Don’t let TV and Facebook be more valuable than radio, because there’s no way they can be as entertaining and as personal as you.

– – – – – – –
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 #371 – There’s Always Another Level

If you’ve had success, it’s easy to think that the learning process is pretty much over. But there’s always another level.

Legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix thought Eric Clapton was stunning, but Clapton thought Hendrix was miles above him. Steven Spielberg thought John Ford was the world’s best movie Director, but Spielberg’s movies will be benchmarks for generations to come.

Great ideas and new approaches are everywhere. The late night talent on a tiny station you pick up driving somewhere may do something so original that it bowls you over.

No matter how good you are, you can get better. And more importantly, you should WANT to get to yet another level. Keep trying to learn more, or you risk becoming a dinosaur.

(From my perspective, this is the essence of coaching. Helping YOU get to the next level.)

– – – – – – –
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 #369 – A Goal Without a Plan

Football player and coach Herm Edwards said, “A goal without a plan is nothing but a dream.”

You want to get better. We all do. But how? If you don’t have a plan, you may luck into something, but probably not. And even then, you’ll be tested. Something will come up, like a hurricane, or the Coronavirus, or the Black Lives Matter movement, and you’d better have some process in place that’ll work for you. As we’ve seen, people often blurt something out that backfires on them.

Herm Edwards can tell you the answer: Coaching.
If you can’t afford coaching, ask your PD to do regular aircheck sessions with you.
If that isn’t feasible, get together with a friend – or multiple friends – and listen to great radio. Or even better, do group aircheck listening sessions in a “safe room” environment where everyone’s thoughts are considered. (Great staffs are often the result of this.)

But don’t just assume that experience alone will transform you into a top-level Talent. Like football, like golf, like playing a musical instrument, it takes work. But ours is a creative profession, so the “work” can actually be FUN.

– – – – – – –
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 #364 – Be a Roomba

If you truly want to be a great air talent, be a Roomba. (Yes, the little robot vacuum cleaner.) Always be looking for “dust” – things you can do better, in radio terms. Be honest about your work. Listen to yourself like it’s someone else. What would your critique of that person be?

Team shows actually have an advantage, because everyone on the show can be on the lookout. If you trust each other and set egos aside, you can improve twice as fast!

– – – – – – –
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.