Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #545: You’re Not the Expert

You hear this all the time – an air talent weighing in on something, drawing conclusions or espousing opinions without any clinical background.

Here’s a message for you: Stay in your lane. You’re a deejay (or Talk show host), not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. The EXPERT is the expert. You’re the conduit for putting the Subject on the air.

Don’t try to be what you’re not. Try to be the best at what you are.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #533: Grammar Police Stuff

“They had to choose between him and I.”
No…just no. It was between him and me. “Between he and I” isn’t right either. “He and I applied for the same job. And it came down to that. They had to choose between him and me.” This is called the object of the preposition.

“And I was like, ‘I don’t want to go,’ and he was like, ‘But you have to.’”
The word “like” flies into every conversation like sand at the beach – useless, but people can’t seem to stop it. Try, “I said, ‘I don’t want to go.’ Then he shouted, ‘But you have to!’”

“So…I went to college on a scholarship.”
Why does everyone start a story with the word “So…?” “So” is the result of something. “I bashed my thumb with a hammer, so I needed a really big Band-Aid.”

All of these things are fine if you’re a 15-year old ‘Valley Girl’ in 1983. But 40 years, later, sounding reasonably educated is a must. If you can’t express yourself in a way that shows that you passed 7th grade English, you may never get that great job that went to someone else. And you may never know why you didn’t get it, because no one’s going to bother to tell you. They’re just going to go on to the next resume or demo.

However, it’s surprising how easy it is to correct things, if you just accept them and work on them. And if you don’t think this stuff matters, then don’t do it. Maybe that’ll work out…but what if it limits you?

This wasn’t meant to be a scolding. Anyone I’ve ever worked with knows that I want everyone to get a great job, and to love doing it. Life is just better when you like what you’re doing. So sound smart. See where that leads.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #515: Do You Sound Happy?

John Lennon once said, “When I was five years old, my mother told me happiness was the key to life. When I went to school they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment. And I told them they didn’t understand life.”

So, with that in mind, do you sound happy on the air? You know, like you actually enjoy your job? Or are you just going through the motions, plodding along doing “fluff” Content or reading stuff off a computer screen?

If you’re not happy doing radio, please get out of it. Life’s too short to listen to someone who’s just “filling breaks”, and there are many people who’d love to have your job. This may sound corny, but we’re here to RELIEVE people of sad feelings or boredom, not add to them. Radio isn’t dying, but some people make it sound like it is.

If this is too “pie in the sky” to you, I quote John Lennon again: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #504: A Good Lesson from a Bad Source

This is something to learn, albeit from a bad source. The next time you’re watching TV, turn the sound off. Now just watch the person onscreen.

You’ll be amazed at how much “over the top” acting is evident. Exaggerated facial expressions; flamboyant, overstated physical movements; “surprised” reactions that almost look like you’re watching some ancient silent movie.
(Sports broadcasting is a playground full of stickers, too. Carefully coifed announcers and ex-athletes, stiff as a board up in “the booth” like they were shellacked to the wall.)

Here’s the lesson:
The same thing happens in radio, when people can’t see you, but can hear you. Watch out for verbal overacting. It shows.

The object is to be as natural-sounding as you can. The more you you are, the better you you’ll be.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #497: Not Sounding Like a Moron, Part 1 – The Echo

Little things matter, because the listener is continuously forming an opinion of you as he or she listens.

One overlooked deejay thing is what I call “The Echo” – where you say the title of a song the last thing out of your mouth, then the song begins by singing that title. “Why would that matter?” you may ask. Well, that could send the message to the listener that you somehow didn’t know how the song began, or maybe you forgot – otherwise, you wouldn’t have put it back-to-back with the vocal repeating what you said.

Centuries ago at KNUS in Dallas, various members of the air staff would get together casually and listen to airchecks of each other. It was good-natured; we all liked each other. When the “echo” thing came up once, I stopped the audio and said to my friend, “That kind of makes you sound like a moron.”
He replied, “I wouldn’t say that.”
I teased, “I know YOU wouldn’t say that, but…” – and we all burst into laughter. But then we all agreed that we would consciously avoid “the Echo”. It became one of dozens of “rules” we formed in order to not sound like every other ‘asleep at the wheel’ station.

We all did things a certain way. Or avoided doing certain things as a group. I truly believe that tiny threads of connection among an air staff will inevitably end up being a zillion tiny threads of connection with the listeners. A great talent or station is like that cool club you want to be a part of. That’s the way we felt, and all the members of that staff tried to instill that vibe throughout their radio careers. (Oh, and fyi, KNUS became the first FM station to be #1 in a major market.)

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2022 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #483: Everything You Say…

This may be an uncomfortable thought, but everything you say reveals something about you – whether you want it to or not.

If you’re in touch with the reason TO say it, you have a good chance of its being received as genuine, and digested by the listener as something worth hearing. If you’re not, and you’re just “trying to get done with it,” that will be felt by the listener, too.

I had a morning team once that insisted on prerecording every break they did into the Voxpro device they used for phone calls, and then playing it back on the air a few minutes later EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE SITTING IN THE CONTROL ROOM and could have done it live.

That, of course, is silly. I’m not knocking voice tracking, but that’s a different animal. I’m talking about being right there in the room and still choosing to be one step removed from live performance. Their excuse was, “We want it to be perfect,” which, of course, is unattainable, and made them sound just a little unnatural.
And obviously, their saying that to me revealed a lot about them, whether they meant it to or not.

Real people flub words, breathe, and don’t “announce” when they ask you to pass the salt.
As a talent, never fear stepping into the spotlight and delivering. That’s why you got into radio in the first place, because you can do that. So be you, and be right here, right now, working without a net. Even mistakes reveal something about you.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2022 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #481: What You Say vs. What I Feel

Get this: it’s not about what you say. It’s about what it makes me feel. I, the listener, will make up my mind pretty quickly about this. Information is fine, but unless I feel something about it, it’s just not relevant.

You have a choice when you open the mic. You can scatter words all over the place, but unless it fires up a pilot light inside the listener, it’s just ‘blah – blah – blah.’

If I feel entertained, that’s good. If I feel like you’re someone I might like to be friends with, that’s even better. But if I only feel like you’re using “filler” stories and material that I can’t identify with, then it’s pretty much a strikeout.

A final thought — if you’re funny, it’ll show. But if you try too hard to be thought of as funny, that’ll show, too. So if you can resist the “I want to be funny” agenda, and meld the selection of meaningful, relevant Content with a natural-sounding delivery, you have a chance to become truly great.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2022 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #471: Trying Too Hard

Trying too hard – whether it’s to be funny, to really “sell” something, or to ingratiate yourself to the listener – just doesn’t work out well in the long run. Yes, we all do it when we first start out, but a developed talent realizes sooner or later that “trying” can be FELT on the other end of the radio – and it pushes the Listener away.

What you want is to sound just like you do in a normal, animated conversation with a friend. You’re not trying to impress them, or show them how smart you are. You’re just trying to share a thought. Or even just a mood.

When we “amp up” the performance, it’s just noise coming out of the radio.

Note: Some people do just naturally sound a little dead or monotone, and usually someone coaches them to have a little “sparkle” or “smile” when they open the mic. Unfortunately, this rarely works. People who speak in a monotone don’t belong on the radio. They didn’t entertain their friends in the 4th grade, and they still can’t. (Sorry to sound so harsh, but find the person everyone listens to in real life, then put THAT person on the radio.)

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2022 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip $468: Why You Should Listen to Yourself

It stuns me how few air talents these days ever listen to their own show. Back when I was on the air (when dinosaurs ruled the earth), it was a given that the cassette “skimmer” that only recorded when the mic was on would be taken out and listened to on my drive home. At some of the stations I was part of, we’d listen to airchecks as a group, with everyone free to point out whatever they heard, good or bad.

Here’s why you should listen to yourself AT LEAST once a week:

1. You’ll pick up habits, then work on changing them so you erase “crutches” from your vocabulary.
2. You can check your timing, making sure you’re coming in at the EXACT right place – not too soon, not too late. (Every song has that perfect “last LOGICAL place to come in or start the next song.)
3. You can hear for yourself whether you sound like you actually enjoy being on the air. I’ve heard way too many music jocks that sound bored most of the time.
You can get a feel for your voice acting skills. (NOT sounding like a typical disc jockey is essential.)

And finally, you’ll have an edge over any competitor who DOESN’T listen to himself. When you’re sharp and the other guy isn’t, he’s a dead man walking, but he doesn’t realize it. If I’m searching for an air talent and hear someone who’s really making an effort to sound good every break, that’s the person I’m going to hire.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2022 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #464: The Best at Your Level

Best in your class. Best in your school. Best in the city. At every level you attain, you should want to be the best at that level.

And then you want to find another level.

This is how growth happens. The minute you get satisfied and think you have nothing else to learn, you’ll STOP learning. And then you’ll become a dinosaur.

Radio is part science, part Art. Part talent, part planning, part performance. The desire to learn more is what fuels every great career. If you need help, talk with friends, listen to each other’s work, and share thoughts. Get a coach. Study acting, movies, great books.

FEED the part of you that wants to be the best at your level.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2022 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.