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.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #316 – The Difference Between You and Us

An extremely well-known morning show host once said about his team show, “We just have a conversation. The listeners just eavesdrop.”

I know that’s what he honestly believed, but it’s an incomplete thought. However, since they were quite successful, a lot of people thought that was right. Here’s why it’s not:

There’s a huge difference between a “You”-centered show and an “Us-centered” show. If it’s ONLY about you, it’s just not as strong as it could be. A show about you AND me (the listener) is a much more powerful goal.

What happened was his show actually was about the listener, too, but since the members of the team were entertaining (and having a good time), they got very “in the room” and talked about themselves both first and most. The result is that the fans they already have love it, but non-fans have no “port of entry” to BECOME fans. To a new listener, it can easily seem too “inside”. So as successful as they are, they’re not as successful as they could be.

Think about this: one day, there’s going to be another school shooting. Or (God forbid), there might be another plane flying into a building. Or wildfires are going to break out all over the state. Or a flood, or a tornado…

Then you’d BETTER be about Us, because none of your “in the control room” stuff is going to mean anything.

However, if you’re in the HABIT of thinking “us” all the time, those drastic or terrible events aren’t going to be a big shift in your show’s paradigm. You will have already developed the skills to know how to easily deal with something that affects ALL of us.

Great shows make everything sound easy. They don’t just talk about themselves. And they always picture the listener right next to them, and include her (or him) in the conversation, even though the listener isn’t saying anything at the moment.

– – – – – – –
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 #311 – Why Your Imaging is Boring People to Death

Normally, these tips are just to help air talent get better. But it’s getting difficult for people to improve quickly when they only get to talk every third song or so. So if you’re a PD, maybe this is something to consider: Your Imaging is boring people to death.

“The Greatest Hits from the 19th, 20th, and 21st Centuries…on KBRP 99…”

1. No one cares.

2. You just missed an opportunity to have an actual human being who works on the air CONNECT with the listener. It’s amazing what just a simple song intro can do, if the jock is “in the pocket” matching the pace and/or emotional vibe of the song. Plus, maybe he or she could say something meaningful in that time, instead of hearing more carvings from the blarney stone every other song (or even more often, in some dayparts).

“But we want to get the brand out there…”

It is. To the point of exhaustion. Plus, unless your brand is tied to a Reality – a person who sounds like somebody I’d like to know, visiting with me in the car – it’s just another commercial for you. (This is one of the factors in why people say radio plays too many commercials.)

First, try to make your Imaging brief, and fresh-sounding. But then the next step is to let the talent talk more frequently, and push them to do something worth listening to when they do. That’s how great staffs are built.

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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 #308 – I Want People to Know When They’re Good

Because of a recent conversation with my partner and friend John Frost, maybe it’s a good idea to talk about why coaching is so essential to an air talent’s growth.

When I first set out on this path more than 20 years ago, I had only heard of two people that specifically worked on coaching talent – Valerie Geller and Randy Lane. Each of them has credentials a mile long, and I’ve learned things from each of them. Valerie is the Great Guru of Talk radio, with clients all over the world, and – among others – Rush Limbaugh as one of her first projects. Randy is a master psychologist, with a gentle touch and a large dollop of personal magnetism.

We’re all a little different, though. I purposely chose to build an image of frankness (bordering on bluntness) because it’s intense, man. My process is very personal, and – despite what the reputation might lead you to believe – I mainly just want people to know when they’re good. Yes, I point out flaws in execution when needed, and definitely want to have a Strategic reason for everything that we do, but my own mentors always took time to make sure that I knew whatever my strengths were.

And if you’re not getting that kind of support, you should be. No one makes it alone, we all start off making every mistake in the book, and Strategy and Tactics are very different things. But we all share one thing: the ability to LEARN.

As you read these tips every week, I hope you glean something from each one that helps you get better.

Next week, we’ll put the hammer down on something – don’t know what yet, but remember where it’s coming from. And thanks to everyone that helped me get to where I can help 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 #307 – Team Spirit, as it applies to Your Station

In the last tip, I referred to basketball coaching legend John Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success” – something you should read, if you haven’t already done so.
Here’s another prime tenet of his teaching: Team Spirit. About that, he says “The star of the team is the team. ‘We’ supercedes ‘me.’”

So ask yourself this: When’s the last time you even MENTIONED someone else on your station? And even if you did, did you offer any real insight as to why I should listen? We’ve all heard those “Rocky Gomez plays more of your favorites this afternoon at 3” plugs, and these do NOT work. The fact that Ol’ Rock is gonna show up for work is NOT a reason for me to listen to him. I can “play more of my favorites” on my phone. I don’t need him.

Radio pioneer Gordon McLendon used to say “Make stars of the morning show. Then they should make stars of everybody else.” This seems to have been forgotten. And great staffs carried it much further; we ALL made stars of everyone else. And it wasn’t just perfunctory mentions of a name and when he or she would be on the air. We’d borrow quotes we heard them do, joke about quirks in their personalities, share little things about our relationships, eating out together, what they wore to work. Back during the final throes of the Viet Nam conflict, I even promoted Christopher Haze, our night guy on KNUS in Dallas, as being ABLE to show up for work because he had swallowed some aluminum foil coated in peanut butter to get out of the draft.

WE…are a radio station. YOU…are one person on it.

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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.