Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip $456: Liners Need to Die

Not long ago, just before a holiday weekend, I called Guitar Center about a guitar I’m thinking about buying. A guy answered the phone with “Guitar Center, where you get fifteen percent off everything in the store through Monday.”

A liner.

Liners need to go away. They’re boring. Few people even notice them anymore. It’s like waiting for a stop light to change.

Yes, I know…you spent all that time coming up with that catchy “Positioning Phrase” and you’ve hired a voice talent to say it a gazillion times with a smiley delivery. So let’s make a deal…go ahead and use the liner in your promos and ID’s. But by all means, free the air talent from EVER having to say them. They’re not good at it.

(I hear you. No, they’re not.)

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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 #451: The Layer of Superficiality

If you haven’t had much (or any) coaching, let me help you with the thing I hear most.

I’d estimate that at least 90% of the time, the first time I listen to someone, I hear a layer of superficiality. (Oddly enough, it’s even worse with team shows.) Something real-ish, but not quite real. A “smiley” sound in the voice, elongated “mock” differences of opinion (in a team show), a delivery that isn’t intimate or personal, extended setups to get into something – it’s almost always there, holding back that talent from sounding like they’re actually talking to me. Some suggestions:

1. Use real words — words that real people use in everyday conversations.
2. Develop your mic technique, so you can speak in a normal tone of voice.
3. Don’t get too officious with your language.
4. RELAX and “let off the gas.” I’m only a couple of feet away in the car. LOUD is annoying, unless it’s a genuine moment.

If you ever had anyone ask you to “Say something in your radio voice,” the answer should be, “I don’t have one. I just talk.”

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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 #450: Show, Visit, or Nothing

Ideally, you’re doing a Show. (Not just a ‘shift’.)

But at least, you should do a Visit.

…and if you’re just reading liners, promoting stuff, and intro’ing songs, you’re doing….nothing.

As I wrote about in the last tip, the goal should be both a Visit AND a Show. That’s what I coach, because historically, that’s what works the best. The combination of both of those elements will compel people to listen.

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

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip $445: Reinventing the Wheel

It seems like sometimes the message is, “We’re not reinventing the wheel here.”

I always thought, “Why not?”

You could argue that the wheel is the perfect example of something that’s only stayed around as long as it has BECAUSE it’s been continually reinvented. (Nobody’s having to stop and put a patch on an inner tube on their Mustang Mach-E these days.)

How this applies to music radio:

In the early 1950s, Todd Storz in Kansas City and Gordon McLendon in Dallas got away from what was, up until then, “block programming” or “middle of the road” music to try a new idea: Top 40. Wheel, meet new wheel.

Some years later, people wanted to hear more than just the “hit singles”, so Album Rock was born. New wheel.

Modern Country, Smooth Jazz, Progressive Rock, Rap, Hip-hop…new wheels.

And look at the growth of Contemporary Christian Radio, with stations like KLTY in Dallas, birthed by “Brother” Jon Rivers – who, years before, had worked for Gordon McLendon at KNUS. (And the wheel goes ‘round.)

Each of these changes was dictated by what people wanted, and smart people reinventing radio to accommodate that. As the world changed, the tastes and preferences changed. More things had to be invented and reinvented to feed them.

Now we have the digital “wheel”, and are thinking up new ways to use the digital and social media world in my client stations.

ALWAYS reinvent the wheel. If you’re not trying to innovate, to come up with new ideas, always diving deeper into how to make someone want to come back and listen again, you’re just patching an inner tube for a tire you have to put on a Hupmobile in 1920.

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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 #444: Everything is Local, or It’s Not

Sometimes, in an effort to seem “bigger,” we lose focus.

Here’s a question for you: If I hear your station for the first time, does it sound and feel local, or not? (And I’m not talking about street names. I mean things that we share with the listener, things that the listener can picture himself or herself going through, too.)

If you don’t feel local – personal – then you’re generic. (Think generic food, as opposed to “brand name” food. “Corn chips” don’t translate the same as “Fritos.”)

Local = emotional engagement.

Generic = who cares?

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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 $442: Be More Than Just a Playlist

Since there are so many places to get the music now, you have to be more than just a playlist.

COMPANIONSHIP (especially in the car) is still really important.
PERSONALITY should be mandatory in EVERY daypart.
There should be “something going on” ALL the time, in every hour of the show – both “station things” and your own Content.

What you have in common with the Listener is what binds you together. If you’re generic, you’re invisible.

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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 #441: The Simplest Possible Way

The more words are used, the less the Personality stands out. The more complicated a Promotion or Contest is, the less effective it is. Keeping things simple from a formatic perspective should be married to keeping things as simple as possible in coaching talent, so they can perform in a way that truly resonates with the listener.

My methods, and the formatics I recommend are all about keeping it simple so there’s more “meat” in the Content – and even in the STYLE of the Content. Our job in the coaching arena is to make it EASY to sound consistently top-notch every day.

Poisonous things can slip in – too many words in a forecast, the name of the station redundantly said again by rote at the end of a break (taking away any possibility of the First Exit that surprises the listener), goofy names for promotions that don’t tell us what the Promotion or Contest IS, reading crappy liners (that the station Imaging voice should read, if you simply must do them), etc. Guard against these.

It’s not just “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” It’s “Keep it simple or I listen to something else.”

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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 #439: The Real Traffic Jam is Doing Traffic

The last two tips have questioned why music stations choose to do formal newscasts or formal weather forecasts (ski resorts and cities near volcanoes exempted). Now let’s deal with doing Traffic updates on the air…

Start by remembering that we’re living in the twenty-FIRST century. “Here’s how we’ve always done it…” is a waste of time to even discuss. Here’s why you don’t need to do what now passes for traffic updates:

1. You can’t compete with the Navigation System in my car (or in my phone, for that matter).

2. 99% of the time, Traffic reports are about traffic that I’m not in, and you can’t cover everyplace because the Update takes too long.

Here’s a different thought: Have a traffic update on the air be one listener reporting on one specific problem. (“I’m Greg Blunderbuss, and here at the Fairfield ramp to I-20, there must be 30 cars backed up.”) Maybe two people per update, different areas each time. Whatever. Just not a droning sea of information about someplace else.

And yes, these can still be sponsored. $

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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 #438: How to do Weather

So let’s talk about the weather…

The typical scenario nowadays is to have some local TV weather person come on to “play” with the morning show and do the weather, or – even worse – to have someone from a weather service read the forecast in a boring monotone, with way too much information. “Clear to partly cloudy today with a thirty percent chance of showers or thundershowers, and a high in the mid-fifties. Southerly winds 8-10 miles per hour. Then it’ll become mostly cloudy and windy overnight with a sixty percent chance of more precipitation, and a low around 32,” etc. Ugh.

We should do the weather, but ultra-short-form. “Some clouds today with a chance of rain. High of 54. Tonight, no rain, low near 32.”
High today, low tonight, tell me if it’s going to rain or snow. If you want, add tomorrow’s high.
No temperature “ranges” (like “in the low thirties.” Should I bring the plants in tonight? Some live at 33, but die at 32.)
Either pick a number, or say “near 32.” NOT “about” or “around” 32. Do you KNOW, or not? We don’t want to just sound like we’re guessing. And if you say “Low near 32” but it doesn’t reach that, then God changed it. But at least we knew what it was supposed to be. 😃)

Frankly, except for “It might rain today. 86 for the high,” is all you need, instead of a formal forecast.

Here’s why:
It’s not 1988 anymore. I have the Weather Channel app in my phone – with the radar picture from RIGHT ABOVE MY HOUSE. And I can get that, along with all the other pertinent information, in about 5 seconds. THAT’S what you’re competing with.

NOTE: when there are concerning changes in the weather, of COURSE you want to cover it. I’m just talking about not pouring energy into formal, lengthy forecasts that can’t compete with an iPhone.

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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 #437: No News is Good News – and Here’s Why

We can probably all agree that ideally, everything you do on the air should play to a strength. If not, it’s probably best to eliminate it.

I feel sorry for air talent with no training in News writing or delivery being forced to do headlines.

Really, except for All-News or NewsTalk stations, News – I’m talking about actually doing a newscast – seems kind of outdated, to me. Not that many people come to a music station for News these days, because there are so many other sources to get it from.

Please understand that this shouldn’t mean that you ignore the News. But what I’m recommending is that if there’s a significant story, you just do a break about it when you stop down, without the formality of a News structure. It’s my opinion that we turn what’s likely to be a liability into a true strength this way.

Obviously, this is something that Programming has to okay.

We’ll address another so-called ‘service element’ – the Weather – in the next tip.

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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.