Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #345 — The Opt-In World

My friend and partner John Frost posted this advisory recently:

Frost Advisory #491 – We live in an OPT-IN world

There is a phone in our home that we never answer. Seriously. A constant barrage of robo-calls and “Anonymous” caller ID’s has left that phone to be no more than a nuisance. In fact, we no longer even listen to the voice mails because of so much time wasted checking them.

We live in an OPT-IN world, defined by Merriam-Webster online dictionary as “to choose to do or be involved in something.” If I didn’t give you permission to communicate with me then your efforts, automated as they be, will be met with an unanswered ring.

While you may not have directly asked your listeners to OPT IN, ultimately they have. They have expectations. They have experiences with your station perhaps they desire to have again.

Maybe they heard something, felt something, or realized something that they wouldn’t have without your radio station in their life.

So….have your listeners OPTED IN for songs they don’t know by artists they’ve never heard of, deejays that talk too much, traffic reports for traffic they’re not in, or newscasts about politics and bad things happening to people?

The more you do what your listeners have OPTED IN for, the more impact you’ll have.

John Frost, Partner
Goodratings Strategic Services
561-625-4211 office
561-676-5559 cell

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John and I have worked together for almost 25 years, and he never fails to inspire. Let me add another camera angle to his tip – what it means to YOU as an air talent.

The question to ask yourself is “Do I opt in?” Think about it. Have you opted in to carrying out the Strategy of your station? Have you opted in for the work ethic it requires to really give it your best effort every day?

Show Prep, Performance, Awareness of what the unspoken bargain is with your listeners – if you don’t choose to opt in for the best performance you can give, why would you expect to be rewarded for it, in terms of the all-important Time Spent Listening?

We’re at the start of a New Year. It could be the best year you’ve ever had in connecting with the listener. Or it could be just another year of not really doing what you’re capable of to EARN the listener’s time. Do you opt in to being great, or are you in danger of being just another “Voice Saying Words”?

Here’s the good news: it’s actually easier – FAR easier – to do great radio than it is to do “average” radio. Read the Frost Advisories, my tips, and the Mason Morning Minute each week at www.goodratings.com, and you’ll see how easy it is to make the listener opt in to your show every day.

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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 #342 – The Odds

We’re in a world of numbers now. Sabermetrics dominate Sports. Take baseball, for example. “He hits .372 against lefthanded pitchers with men on third base and less than two out when it’s raining…”

Well, okay…but that’s not predictive. It’s just a measurement of what ALREADY happened.

The REAL odds are this: every time you step up to the plate, it’s 50/50. You’ll get a hit, or you won’t. This MATTERS, and it’s why Sports is such a great teacher, because every player or team will have its day sometimes, no matter what the percentages say.

You’ve got an incredible opportunity in radio, because every time you open the mic, the odds are dead even. You have a really good chance of saying something that’s cool, entertaining, or informative – not just “blah”. (Queen called it “Radio Ga Ga.”)

To continue the baseball analogy, you can’t get a hit if you don’t swing the bat. TRY SOMETHING. Phrase it uniquely, or come up with a “camera angle” that’s NOT like every other air talent would say.

If you do, you’ll have a great career. If not, you’ll just be a noise in the background.

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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 #340 – Hire Class Clowns

A great rule of thumb for finding air talent is to hire people that were “Class Clowns” in school.

The mere fact that someone was willing to take on that role denotes Confidence, and wanting to have Fun. A great radio station needs both in order to succeed.

When I was a kid, I was a class clown, BUT it was never intended to disrupt the class, only to make it more enjoyable. I didn’t butt in or interrupt the teacher, and didn’t just say something stupid or something to draw attention to myself. I just looked at it like there were things being said that needed a comment.

Relating this to my wife one night not long ago, I said, “But some teachers – unbelievably – didn’t seem to WANT to do a team show.”

That made her spit the water she was drinking about three feet into the air.

And THAT, my friend, is what makes a valid air talent.

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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 #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 #331 – The Best Thing You Can Hear…and Do

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also made for great musicians, explorers, writers, painters, and radio staffs.

When you have a bunch of people who are all continuously curious about how to get better, you have lightning in a bottle. And you can feel it in the hallways. It shows on the air. And people listen to you simply because they WANT to. You don’t have to dangle a lot of incentives in front of them, although contests are fun. You don’t have to pander to them and compliment them all the time – especially not for their good taste in listening to you. And you don’t have to worry about what your competition is doing, because if you’re talented and still working to get better, the other guys are already dead men walking.

Give me the people who come up with ideas for better systems, who want to try something on the air they haven’t done before, and want to have FUN doing their jobs.

But here’s the deal: every person you have who doesn’t think like this holds you back. Hire wisely. Interview the person, not the job posting. Find the ones who want to help you do GREAT radio. Then coach them up.

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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 #329 – Check Your Online/App Streaming

Here’s a question for you: Have you listened to your station’s online streaming lately?
Chances are, it pretty much blows.

Most of the time, I record station audio to use for coaching sessions. And it’s amazing how many stations promote how you can “take us to work with you” or “keep up with us with the app” when in reality, the signal crashes without any warning whatsoever. Or the app makes us jump through hoops, pushing multiple buttons or wading through “join our music team” come-ons, before we finally just get to what we want – the audio.

And even then, it seems like stations have a budget of about three dollars for the QUALITY of the audio signal, so it’s only a little better than listening to the station through a tin can. Even something as simple as volume levels can be either insanely low or REALLY LOUD by default.

So look, if you’re going to take the trouble to stream online or have an app, make sure that it delivers the very best audio, with the least hassle, that you can provide. Otherwise, it I try it the first time and it’s a drag, I’m not going to try it a second time. Life’s too short. I can noodle around with my fantasy football team instead. And my wife will probably just turn it off and start surfing Etsy or Pinterest.

As in all facets of radio, BE WORTH IT when someone comes to you.

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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 #328 – What You Can Learn From Ron Jacobs

Back in the heyday of Top 40 radio, there were a handful of stations that became the icons; the stations we wanted to work at, or at least have our station sound like.

One of the giants was KHJ in Los Angeles, a Drake-Chenault consulted station with the brilliant Ron Jacobs as its Program Director.

Jacobs had three primary rules:
Preparation.
Concentration.
Moderation.

Preparation: Being absolutely sure of what this break was going to be about. Working on your “camera angle”, your vocabulary, and putting things in the right order, so information or a story unfolded in the easiest-sounding way.

Concentration: No distractions, no second thoughts at the last minute, no stumbling around verbally.

Moderation: Staying “in the pocket” and not trying to do too much, or add details that don’t matter, or take too much of the listener’s time.

If this worked for some of the greatest air talents of an entire generation, it certainly can work for you, too. And these principles would be such a breath of fresh air in today’s voice-tracked, kind of distanced sound that we hear on way too many stations. WORK ON YOUR CRAFT. Radio is NOT dead – but bad radio is.

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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 #327 – A Shoe Store With No Shoes

My friend and associate John Frost and I have one huge pet peeve – when we walk into a client station and can’t hear it playing in the building.

When we ask why this is so (and we do), we get these really lame answers:

“People are working, and the music distracts them.”

“We want people doing their jobs, not just listening to the radio.”

“The people in the office can’t talk to each other if the station is on.”

And the one I found most insane – “You can hear it in the bathroom.” (Wow! Let’s all go in there!)

No one wants to walk into a shoe store that has no shoes. If I can’t hear your station in the lobby or in the hallway, apparently you don’t have one worth listening to.

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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 #326 – Where’s the Benefit?

Stations that are only an assemblage of “Attributes” are just ducks quacking into a strong wind. You’ve heard these so-called “Positioning” claims: “50-Minute Music Hours,” “12 in a Row,” “Commercial-free hours,” etc. What programmers fail to realize is that there’s no real Benefit to any of these claims, because we all know that at some point, we’re going to pay for these with an incomprehensibly long clot of commercials. And “commercial-free” isn’t true anyway if you run promos or recorded liners between songs, because SURPRISE!…those are thought of as COMMERCIALS for you.

There needs to be some Benefit to the Listener in whatever you promote – or talk about on the air. If there isn’t one, I (as a listener) don’t care – and I’m not going to do whatever it is that you want me to do.

“Well, that tells people what we are.” No, it doesn’t. It tells people that you’re grasping for something that’s not capable of being owned anymore (if it ever was). Spotify, Pandora, Amazon music, iTunes music, and You Tube are alternative places to get all the music you play – and more – without having to hear you quack.

Offer something tangible. How does what you’re doing benefit my life? How is it unique? Until you can answer those questions, you’re not really offering anything except slogans. Ewww.

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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 #318 – Where You NEVER Want to Go

In essence, the air talent’s job is to take us somewhere…a journey, from beginning to end. One break at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time.

As you do, either you leave a mental “imprint” on the listener, or you just go by unnoticed, a mosquito making a noise in the background.

While there have been tons of books written about this, one thought, originally from the great acting coach Stella Adler, and used to perfection by my friend Valerie Geller in the Talk radio world, sums it all up: Never be boring.

Stella Adler put it this way:
“You can’t be boring. Life is boring. The weather is boring. Actors must not be boring.”

There’s an easy way to avoid being boring. Simply ask yourself this: “What do I have to offer that won’t be ‘typical’?” Because THAT is what will set you apart from almost everyone else across the dial.

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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.