Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #485: The Phonies versus The Realies

There are things everywhere that apply to what we do. For me, one of those was a line from an old “Peanuts” comic strip when the cantankerous Lucy turned to Charlie Brown after something had happened and said, “It’s getting hard to tell the phonies from the realies.”

That’s a quirky line, but honestly, in radio, it’s not that hard. So, with apologies in advance for using the old-fashioned “he” pronoun, here’s a checklist:

The Phony tells you what to think. {“You’ll like this…”)
The Realie tells you what he thinks.

The Phony “pushes” a little too much.
The Realie has better technique and lets the mic do the heavy lifting.

The Phony does material that he thinks is funny or entertaining. The Realie does material that he believes the LISTENER will find funny or entertaining.

Start with the listener and work back to the Control room as the beginning of your process. Then just talk to that person.
Always give 100%, but don’t try too hard. Let me decide, one listen at a time, that you’re the best choice. If you need help, ask your PD, or work with a valid talent coach.

The goal is to be the best version of 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 #482: Don’t Hide

Here’s a little story for you…

When I was Corporate Talent Coach for Paxson Radio, part of my job was to listen to airchecks that were sent in. We had 47 stations, and wanted real Talent in every position.

One guy followed up his aircheck with a phone call, and asked my opinion. I told him that most of what I had heard had been stock ‘bits’ – Trivia contests, ‘News of the Weird’ type of stuff, some forced-sounding laughter. Sensing that he was a little shaken, I added, “Look, here’s the thing. After hearing this, I don’t know who you are. You’re hiding behind ‘bits’ so much that I don’t have a sense of what your outlook on life is, what your values are, what your opinions are – things that we might connect on if I did.”

So…ask yourself if you’re still trying to invent new things, or just settling for the same ol’ same ol’. Is your show consistent (which is fine), or has it crossed the line into being predictable (which is death)? Do you offer insights, give opinions? Did I learn anything about you today? Or did you just “perform” some more?

In the end, the ‘bits’ are rarely what’s remembered. It’s WHO YOU ARE that sinks in. As I’ve said a million times, at some point you’re going to have to crack your chest open and show us what’s in there.

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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 #480: The Other End of the Couch

This is a voice tip for radio, and artistically, the way you’re going to perform the best.

We’ve all heard way too many “foghorn” deejays trying to “impress” us with their big, impressive delivery. And it’s not just in radio — the “HI THERE!” bad disc jockeys are doing Sports on TV now, shouting at us about everything.
But that’s just so 1975.

Try this instead: just imagine someone sitting with you, on the other end of the couch. You want to be loud enough for that person to hear you, but no louder than that. Obviously, you’ll get more excited if the subject matter requires that, but as a rule, just settle down and talk to me.

The absence of the “disc jockey” delivery allows you the space to just be yourself. And then you can be organized, but still open to something flying into your mind ‘in the moment’ because you’re not trying so hard to be noticed.

As my friend and outstanding voice actor Beau Weaver says, “It’s not about your voice.”
I would add, “It’s NEVER about your voice.” It’s about being believable.

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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 #478: Part OF the Music, or Just Waiting for the Song to End?

Here’s a question for you: Do you come across as PART OF the music, or like you’re just waiting for the song to end, so you can talk? You’re either going to a part of it, or not.

I’ve talked about this before, but you should want to match the mood, the “vibe” of the song, or match the pace of the song – or both – so you’re a PART of the listening experience.

Too many stations are running Imaging way too much of the time, and the air talent doesn’t get to talk often enough. We need to hear these people so we can bond with them. Just your tone of voice, or a little remark over the song, can say a lot.

I’m not bonding with your Imaging guy.

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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 #477: Does Your Positioning Phrase Matter?

It depends on what it is, but only rarely have I heard a Positioning phrase or slogan that actually matters, especially if it’s just touting things like “12 in a row” or “50-minute music hours,” or the nebulous “More music.” (More music than what? My refrigerator?)

Anybody who wants to do so can make those claims, and somebody will, I guess, but why settle for that?

Here’s what you really are: What the listeners think you are when they listen to you.

So consider taking off a lot (or all) of the “sloganeering” and SHOW me why I should listen. It starts with THIS time you open the mic.

Note: there are stations whose Imaging actually means something. But I wouldn’t say they’re in the majority.

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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 #474: Never Be Afraid To Learn More

The other night, casually watching a New York Yankees broadcast with the most excellent Michael Kay and former great pitcher David Cone, something really struck me that Cone said. He was talking about a Yankees pitcher who had not had a good beginning last season, and made the decision to dramatically dive into the metrics that are available now – arm angle, spin rate, pitchers’ and batters’ “planes” that they pitch or swing on, etc. He totally revitalized his career when he learned about what more spin means, rather than just speed.

Think about that. These guys make millions of dollars, he’s done it one way his whole life, and all of a sudden, this guy makes a dramatic change.

The resistance to change is the greatest danger to radio. Great stations are always looking for more and better ways to connect with listeners, but a lot of air talents seem like they’re always reticent to change much, if at all.

However, just because it got you where you are doesn’t mean you’re going to stay there. Even at the Major League Baseball level, you can be on a bus back to pitch for the Bogalusa Smoothies in a heartbeat.

Listen to smart people who are looking forward all the time. Ask the PD to help you get better, or recommend they hire a coach for a few sessions a month. But always be looking for what will give an edge over the tree stump at the competing station doing the same show as yesterday and the day before that.

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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 #473: The First Two Goals

There are two immediate goals in radio:

1. You have a listener. Keep him (or her) around for a while.

2. Compel that person to come back again tomorrow.

Without meeting these first two goals, NOTHING else can be accomplished. No matter what your Strategic plans are, no matter what the Board of Directors’ monetary aims are, no matter what your “Imaging” tries to accomplish, unless you learn how to grab a listener and make that person want to listen again, you’re dead in the water.

Some questions for you:

Do you spend more time on these fundamental goals than other things in a given day?

Do you give conscious thought to who that person is that’s listening, and HOW to appeal to them?

If not, why not? Do you just want to fail? My brilliant friend and associate John Frost used to have a miniature billboard on his desk that read “It’s the Cume, Stupid.”

Cume builds one person at a time.

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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 #467: Heart versus Humor

Some people, like I did early in my career, spend too much time trying to be funny, or trying to be thought of as funny.

But thanks to the great Lee Abrams, I was able to get out of that ditch. Lee straightforwardly told me that when I tried to tell jokes, they fell a little flat. But if I was just myself, funny things happened. He said “Don’t try to say funny things. Your strength is saying things funny.”

It totally changed my career, and I was able to tell Lee that years later. So…

Be genuine, instead of trying to be funny. Go for the Heart, and sharing an honest observation or feeling, instead of a punch line.

The odd thing is if you have the Heart, the humor comes anyway, naturally. But if you just try for Humor, it leaves the Heart out.

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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 $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.