Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #370 – It’s Not Really a Conversation

There’s what you want it to sound like; then there’s what it actually is.

“We just have a conversation with the listener.” Well…not exactly.

It’s NOT really a Conversation. Music radio is at its best is when it’s concise and at least momentarily memorable – or at the VERY least, when it doesn’t waste our time.

This thought helps; it’s NOT a conversation. It’s just an Observation with an Emotion tucked in.
Thinking this way won’t leave you frustrated if you don’t get phone or social media response. Your job is to offer things up that are incisive or entertaining. Getting a reply isn’t the real goal.

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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 #367 – Promos: Stop Telling Me what to Think or Feel

Not long ago, I saw a TV ad for a European car, and the voiceover began with “The thrill you’ll feel when you sit down behind the wheel…”
No. I’ve driven one of those cars, and because it sits about 4 inches off the ground, I didn’t feel the “thrill,” I felt like I was getting a colorectal exam at sixty miles an hour.

This ‘telling people what they think or feel’ (or what their reaction should be) is really annoying. Al Ries and Jack Trout call it “Marketing your aspirations.”

It’s rampant in radio, too. Just this week, I heard a morning show promo that said “Great stories, and lots of laughs” (or some other bragging drivel). Not true. I heard them, and their stories were “pat” and predictable, and the farthest thing from “laughs” I could imagine. They just recycled stories from the internet, and plugged their Facebook page.

Instead of constantly telling your listeners what you WANT them to think or feel about your show or your station, just promote the Benefits of listening to you. The best show promo just plays me a clip of the show, then tags it with who you are and when you’re on.

Let the listeners decide for themselves. Let go of the hype. No one believes 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 #363 – How You Start

In well over 20 years of coaching so far, I’ve worked with a lot of incredibly good air talents, some to refresh and regroup so they can STAY great; others to simply help them grow even more.
The flip side of that is working with people in the earliest stages of their careers. And it seems like the “newbies” all start with the same question, “What’s the secret?”

Here it is: be WORTH listening to. Whatever your subject matter is, whatever you say has to make some sort of impact. Not necessarily big, huge, dramatic impact. Simply being perceived as someone who’s actually talking to me, rather than just “a voice saying words”. That sounds easy, but it’s a daunting task for a young talent. It’s not about your voice. It’s not about being “funny”, per se. It’s just about being PRESENT, in THIS moment, every time the mic opens. Every…single…time. The minute you turn in a half-hearted effort, you deserve 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
© 2020 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #360 – The Better Idea

The Better Idea. That’s what always wins. Apple. Streaming. Social media.

As an air talent, limiting yourself to just trying to match the other guy, or just trying to do a decent job…well, that’s setting the bar too low.

What you should want to do is get better, get clearer on what you want to do, and get more proficient at doing it. Here are three easy steps toward getting better in just one month:

Step 1 – be able to tell someone, in detail, what your listener’s life is today. The more you know about the listener, the more relevant you can be. Relevance is ALWAYS the better idea.

Step 2 – do what the format allows, but make sure that you come across as a person, not just a voice. This is multi-layered, because we’re also voice actors, to a degree. Start with trying to sound ON the air just like you sound OFF the air.

Step 3 – Reject the typical or the easiest thing to do. Keep adding stuff all the time. Burn material like jet fuel. Try something this week that you’ve never done before.

That should jump start things. ⏱

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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 #359 – Your Station and…Relevance

You can’t MAKE yourself seem more relevant. You have to just BE relevant.

No ‘slogan’ (like “Favorites of the Eighties, Nineties, and Today”) will do this.

And it’s not confined to radio. A TV station where I live uses “On Your Side” as their slogan. I wasn’t aware that I took any particular side, but after watching their hapless evening news team, I don’t WANT them on my side.

Kleenex. That name probably has relevance to you. Lysol = hugely relevant, especially as COVID-19 proved.

At some point, your NAME has to STAND for Relevance.

So remember that what happens when the mic opens – usually in the first 10 seconds or so – is what either keeps the listener here, or chases that listener away. Say something relevant.

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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 #357 – SPECIAL EDITION: Coronavirus Guidelines

We’re in uncharted waters right now, because the Coronavirus is the #1 subject locally, nationally, and globally…

So let’s look at it both Strategically and from a Coaching perspective.

Strategy

These are the core ingredients in what we should want to air right now:
Acts of kindness
Stories of hope
Examples of self-sacrifice…

In short, be the “glass half full” station. If that seems corny to you, grow up. Negativity and Fear are everywhere. If you feed them, they get worse.

Coaching Tips

The Coronavirus isn’t the subject of every single break (you still want to be entertaining, too), but the virus IS the “backdrop” of everything.

If a large portion of the Content is people sharing about what the virus means in their lives, then remember that it’s not just their sweet stories, but also their concerns, and what that means in terms of being a good wife/husband/neighbor.

Something along the lines of “Yes, we’re going to play lots of songs and keep you up on the weather and traffic, etc. but let’s talk, if you want…”

Keep these things in mind:
Whenever there’s a “theme” (like taking calls about a certain thing), two ingredients are essential…

[1] A different emotion each time. If calls are all the same emotion, but just different details, that’s gonna get old quickly.

[2] Keep ‘em short. A call isn’t a conversation, it’s a sound bite. The SUM of the sound bites is the conversation.

It’ll be a challenge for some air talents to steer away from “It’s gonna be all right” platitudes and “Hallmark card” affirmations, but do your best. Remember that something as simple as your tone of voice can calm people and connect with them.

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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 #353 – No Talk, No Magic

In this era of voice trackers in one or more dayparts, multiple responsibilities that take time, etc. it’s not unusual for me to see stations where the morning team may have never even met, say, the evening air talent.

Although this might not seem to be an area for a talent coach to work on, it really is. I think it’s essential for all the people on the air staff to know each other, communicate with each other, and share with each other.

When you know something about the talent in another daypart, ways to mention/promote them become easy, and the station sounds less compartmentalized. It adds a human touch, and helps create the magic “Stationality”.

Sharing your thoughts and ideas with the other air talent leads to “new blood” in your own thinking process, too.

In my experience, the staffs who know each other well perform better. It’s also alarming to me how many staffs these days hardly ever have conversations with each other ABOUT the station.

Predictably, the people who don’t talk about their radio stations always work at crappy ones. Discussion shows Passion.

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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 #352 – Being Natural Isn’t Enough

One of the main things I deal with as a coach is getting air talent to sound more natural. Especially to younger demos, sounding “like a disc jockey” isn’t what they want to hear. But that’s not all there is to it.

There are lessons everywhere, so here’s one with a visual aid. It’s a You Tube clip of Carole King and James Taylor doing her song “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”…

Two “old pros” pretty much knocking it out of the park, with what I think may be the best song ever written about teenage girl angst and hopes. King and Taylor seem totally relaxed and the performance feels very natural, but it’s also EXPERTLY nuanced.

People work hard to attain that level in both of those areas. So remember, it’s not enough to just be natural; there also has to be attention to Performance.

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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 #350 – Why Positivity Matters

With the way the so-called “News” is going nowadays, the easiest thing to do is to simply bring a subject up, then mock it or put a cheap punch line at the end.

But here’s the thing…radio – in ALL formats – owes the listener more than that. We’re primarily here to inform, entertain, or both. But I hear music formats that sound lifeless, Imaging in some formats that seems to be sneering in their delivery, “Content” that’s just celebrity gossip flotsam and jetsam, and Talk Radio shows that are just “adopting a posture” and spouting the same one-sided opinions every day.

Radio isn’t dead by any means, but it is largely lacking the one thing it should provide: Positivity. Simply put, it’s a “glass half full” undercurrent, even to things that aren’t necessarily “happy” in nature. Maybe it’s just sounding like you CARE with your delivery. Maybe it’s rejecting the easy-but-negative joke about something. Or maybe it starts with just saying the name of the station like you’re actually proud of it.

In coaching sessions every week, I push air talent to challenge themselves to not settle for the cutting comment, and to COMPEL THE LISTENER TO COME BACK FOR MORE. Even a negative emotion can be expressed in a positive way. (Example: “Normally, I’m not a huge fan of hers…but I LOVE this song…”)

That’s all it takes. So make an effort. Or just continue to let streaming services and Sirius/XM siphon off your listeners. It quite literally is up to you. C’mon, let’s have some fun!

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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 #349 – Revisiting the Apple Credo

Here’s a little tidbit I heard and wrote about years ago, but it bears revisiting.

The story is that Steve Jobs, in an Apple “think tank” meeting, challenged everyone with three questions:
• What would be cool?
• What would be fun?
• What would benefit the life of the customer?

If you want a real “mission statement”, that’s it. And it directly applies to radio. If we’re always thinking “What would be cool?” “What would be fun?” and “What would benefit the life of the listener?” we can’t go wrong.

I would back this up with three questions of my own:
• Does your station even think about this?
• If not, why not?
• And how long do you want to totally miss the whole point of even HAVING a radio station in the first place? 🤪

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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.