Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #415: Another Tip from Roy London

Roy London: Actor, writer, teacher and coach.
If you watch the Academy Awards, you’ve heard his name. Brad Pitt, Sharon Stone, Forrest Whitaker, Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis and dozens of other actors have spoken about his coaching’s impact on their careers. At one point, he taught over 250 actors weekly, and coached many more privately.

I’m a radio talent coach, and have worked with over 1500 radio personalities and a few TV personalities and anchors, but my background is in acting. And believe me, radio IS about acting.

So here’s a piece of advice from Roy London:
“You have to live in your vulnerability.”

If you’re not showing some sort of vulnerability on the air, if you just want to be seen as pleasant, funny, a “got it all together” person, you’re going to be limited in how big an audience you can grow.

Steve Sunshine at Spirit 105.9 in Austin and I spent two entire coaching sessions working on how Steve would reveal on the air that he had been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s.

Brant Hansen has always been brilliant and thought-provoking, but he and I also worked on showing his quirkiness by his playing “Smoke on the Water” on his accordion on the air – and cultivating his love of…wait for it…toast.

I have an air talent now whose husband has ultra-serious health issues. There are days when it’s difficult for her to go on the air at all, and other days when being on the air is a relief and an emotional release. We talk a lot.

NBA coach Don Nelson was known for being a good interview and being funny, but one time he came on the air with me and revealed that he was incredibly nervous because he was heading to the airport in just a few minutes to meet the twenty-something year old daughter he had just found out he hadI

Your vulnerability is also a strength, if you know how to reveal it without chasing people away. It also adds to the “one thing I know about you that I don’t know about your competition” factor that I think makes a huge difference in anyone’s career.

If you have a coach and you’re working on this, great. If you have a coach and you’re NOT working on this, get a new coach.

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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 #413: We Do It a Certain Way

Ask yourself these questions:

What does the Program Director want the station to sound like?
Does the morning team have the same vision? How about the other dayparts? Do YOU know what makes your station sound different, and unique?

I deal with this all the time. Great stations have common factors.
The thread of consistency; the gold bar at the core of the station, should be not only known, but clearly identified and discussed among the staff.

Being reverent in a certain way; being Irreverent in a certain way. The language in the Imaging, the Promos, the standard of Production.

Example: early on in my career, I got onto how any spot or promo should change the music at least once, because there’s at least one place in all ‘copy’ where a momentum or mood change is needed. At my stations, you COULDN’T just use one piece of music in a spot unless the client specified it (like using a jingle with a “donut” for the copy).

But it goes much farther, and deeper, than that. STATIONALITY is what the great ones have. There’s an understood attitude and common values that run through every daypart, even though (of course) each air talent is different.

Like the Beatles. They had this sound that was only theirs, and they all knew what it was, but each singer and each instrument was totally individual in style.

You can tell a great station before you even hear its name said. If your station isn’t like that, get to work. CREATE something unique.

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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 #406: A Lesson from Alex Trebek

Watching ‘Jeopardy’ these days is strange for the millions of people of all ages who grew up watching Alex Trebek emcee the show. First, Ken Jennings, the greatest contestant of all time, hosted. Then the Producer of the show, Mike Richards, came in with his “Don Draper” looks and professionalism. Then Katie Couric, enthusiastic, but…

While we know a little about Jennings and a lot about Couric (but in another setting), we knew a lot more about Alex. He loved travel, his pride in Canada was cute, and just the WAY he conducted the show spoke volumes about his respect for what could have been just another Game Show.

Think about that. Why was it different with Alex? Why didn’t the guest hosts capture us like Trebek did?

Because, over time, we learned about Alex, from his appearance to his demeanor, and through the pancreatic cancer diagnosis and treatment that told us all about his dedication to his job. The way he kept the show moving, but knew when to slow it down and elicit stories from the contestants, tease them, applaud them.

Now think about your audience, and their relationship with you. IS there one? Are you doing anything worth their time? Do you know when to keep it moving? Is there anything happening that shares a little about you and your attitude toward doing your job, and how does that compare to an Alex Trebek?

He’ll be remembered by many as the guy who was so universal that he was parodied for YEARS on Saturday Night Live – a show that prides itself on being about THIS week. Would your listenership even notice it if you left?

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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 #404: More Music Shouldn’t Mean Less Personality

It’s a big challenge for a Programmer. You want people to listen, so you play their favorite songs. But if all you are is a playlist, you’re not even competing in the radio world. You’re competing with entities like Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, iTunes music, etc. (Even my cable TV network has dozens of music channels.)

What every station should want is effortless flow and momentum, but still having (or taking) time to DO something. “More music” can often mean “less Personality”. That’s a death trap.

But on the other hand, “No restrictions”, the opposite side of the coin, is a trap of a different kind. Great personalities have to be as good as the best song you play, too.

Music. Personality. You don’t want one without the other – in ANY daypart.

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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 #403: The Big Goal, and How to Get It

It’s easy to wonder why radio stations sometimes decay, or never really become top stations. This needn’t happen. Bill Young, PD of KILT in Houston for many years, was a major influence on me and countless others who worked for him. Before it became okay to own a zillion stations, Bill had an AM and an FM that were both hugely successful for one reason: he filled the hallways with the most talented people he could find. Then he let them do what they do: create great radio, great Production, great Promotions, and come up with great ideas that challenged the “We’ve always done it this way” prison.

My friend “Brother Jon” Rivers, a great Top 40 jock who then became probably the best-known personality and Programmer in Contemporary Christian radio at KLTY in Dallas, put it this way: “If you hire enough really talented people, you eventually reach ‘critical mass’, where the station EXPLODES – in a good way. It gets so good in every area that success is just a byproduct.” That’s the Big Goal.

If your station isn’t this way, I would recommend doing everything you can to change it. Hire the brightest minds. If budget is a challenge, hire young, less experienced people and let them grow under this umbrella.

I’m not one of those “everything was better in the old days” people, but in radio, that certainly can sometimes be true. ALWAYS look for the creative “spark” when you make a hire.

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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 #401: TEAM Ego, not Individual Ego

One of the main things I watch out for as a coach is when someone’s ego gets overblown. Here’s why…

The Beatles squabbled often, and George Harrison and Ringo Starr grew to resent how John Lennon and Paul McCartney were making a LOT more money than they were – when often, George, in particular, contributed lyrics or musical ideas that played a big part in fleshing out a song that John or Paul “wrote”.

Many groups, like U2 for example, learned from this, and simply listed “U2” as the writers of their songs. Problem solved.

As a team show, or as a radio station. a COLLECTIVE ego, where you have pride as a whole, as a TEAM – but not one person’s ego dominating everything – always works best.

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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 #397: Taking Credit for NOT Talking About it

In view of what happened at the nation’s capitol on January 6th, there’s an important caution – and concept – concerning what you should do when something like this dominates the news.

A lot of stations in some formats (like A/C or Contemporary Christian Music, or any music format, actually) choose to simply not talk about it. The danger here is coming across like an ostrich with your head stuck in the sand, like you don’t even know about what happened. This is not something I recommend, although it is better than alienating your audience by sounding off with an opinion that could severely damage your listenership.

The 2nd – and better – way to handle it is to take credit for NOT talking about it. A simple statement like “We’ve all seen what’s in the news right now, but just know that this morning when you’re taking the kids to school, we’re NOT going to be talking about that.” (Same for “picking up the kids” in the afternoon, or “running errands today.”)

You get credit in the mind of the listener for (1) being aware of it, even though you’re not talking about it, and (2) co-parenting, in a way, or at least being someone who’s not going to force the listener to discuss something with their kids that they might not want to discuss yet.

Believe me, this works. It builds TRUST, a huge factor that you should want in your favor.

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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 #394: Confidence vs. Ego

There’s a huge difference between Confidence and having a big Ego. A great Talent needs confidence. Without it, you’d never try anything different, never find the things that are unique to you.

And confidence shows. Think Sean Connery as James Bond. Tiger Woods. Paul McCartney.

But ego shows more – and usually it’s not a flattering image. At all.

The great Gary Larson dealt with how suddenly Ego can come tumbling down:

In radio, it’s not ego that kills. It’s DISPLAYS of ego that kill radio stations. Be careful how you define yourself, what claims you make in your Imaging, and how the air talents handle things.

*Note to Gary Larson: you’re the best cartoonist who ever lived. I’m only borrowing your one-panel here to make a point. Please don’t sue me. 😇

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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 #393 – Tasks vs. Creativity

If you’re so busy doing so many things – so many contests, so many (management) “initiatives”, so many other jobs (podcasts, voice tracking another station, writing website articles, social media postings) – you will inevitably lose Creativity.

You only have so many breaks during a show to talk about ANYTHING. There are always things to plug, but you can’t plug everything equally.
The winning template is to only have one “big” thing and one “little” thing. Say a major contest as your Big thing, and something else as your little thing. That way, you still have time to do something creative on a regular basis as a main ingredient of your show.

Look, it’s a challenge for an air talent to talk about something for the millionth time and still breathe some creativity into it, but they’ll do much better at that than they will trying to fit an impossible number of things into the show to the point that there’s no time left to do ANYTHING creative.

Be careful as a PD or GM not to put too many things on the plate, because past a certain number, you’ll not only lose creativity, but you’ll also lose spontaneity – leaving nothing to listen FOR.

Remember, I can look at your website and see all the crap you want to promote. Your primary job should be to ENTERTAIN me at LEAST as much as you inform me. When you lose that balance, Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon Prime music take your place in line for my time spent listening.

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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 #390: “Slug lines” on Promos

Often, promos get waylaid by trying too hard to say too much. In particular, “slug lines” (tags) on the end try WAY too hard.

“He’s a little bit goofy. She’s a little bit ditzy…”
“Making you laugh every day…”
“They’re here to lift you up…”

Blah, blah, blah.

You don’t need these. Here’s the template…

1. A quick intro: “Jack and Belinda…”
2. A sound bite from the show.
3. Then a tag: “Jack and Belinda, Mornings on 93.9 KBGL…”

Cut out the adjectives and superlatives. Let the clip do the work.

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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.