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Really, except for All-News or NewsTalk stations, News – I’m talking about actually doing a newscast – seems kind of outdated, to me.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.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #433: Two Workshop Thoughts

Some coaching sessions are what I call “workshop” sessions, where instead of concentrating on one thing, we talk more about the bigger picture, and how to reach a higher level.
It’s not all pie in the sky, though. Even the best air talents need foundational reminders now and then. Returning to our overall vision clarifies things and takes us out of the “critique” space. Here’s an example, an excerpt from a recap of a recent session with Dave & Tristi, the fine morning team on 89.5 KTSY in Boise:

1. Always have a solid ending in mind first. If you do, constructing the story will be far easier. Trying to tie a bunch of divergent facts together at the end is why writers and performers get stumped. Knowing that the Ending is going to resonate relaxes the whole writing (or composing in your head) process.

2. An economy of words results in fewer overreactions, phone solicitations get easier and more natural-sounding, and you weed out phrases that sound like ‘liners’. You don’t want to constrict yourself so much as just trim things down, so they make more impact.

Sessions like today’s, with two premium talents who are always receptive…well, that’s why I enjoy the ‘workshop’ environment so much. (As opposed to the actual Shop classes in school, where the instructor always seemed to be missing a finger.)

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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 #430 – We Have To Sound Smart

In the course of some coaching sessions, I sometimes have to discuss grammar with an air talent. It’s painful to correct “between he and I” (which should be “between him and me,” of course) or “Us guys love Fantasy Football.” (Uh huh. So I guess the Queen song was “Us Will Rock You”?)

More than once, I’ve been met with how that’s “nitpicking” or asked “Why does it matter?”

Here’s why it matters…unless we sound intelligent, like we actually passed seventh-grade English, we can’t be taken seriously. Think about that. Maybe in a time of true darkness, when something really serious has happened, you won’t be the listener’s first choice. Because serious events or issues need serious and uplifting thoughts, and it takes a thorough knowledge of vocabulary, sentence structure, and grammar to be able to inform or comfort people.

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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 #429: Turn Down the Volume

We don’t broadcast in a vacuum. Turn on the radio or the TV (or any audio streaming service), and maybe the first thing you’ll notice is how LOUD things are nowadays. Screaming commercials, “big voice” ANNOUNCEMENTS, local commercials where some car dealership’s relative who’s never had any coaching bleats out the ad copy, commercials or promos that seem twice as loud as the TV show…Sports announcers screaming at you because the crowd noise around them apparently makes them forget that they have a microphone – it’s just an assault on the senses sometimes.

Here’s how you avoid being part of that noise monsoon: Turn down the volume. Be emotionally invested, and trust that being enough. Yes, you want to be ‘animated’ in what you say, but “energy” is overbilled. To be truly heard, you should cultivate an ear-friendly delivery.

More expression, less volume.

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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 #424: Two Questions to Ask Yourself

I don’t like asking questions, but here are two that you should ask yourself, whether you’re an air talent, Programmer, or GM:

1. What do you have that I can’t get everywhere else?
In the current era of “cookie cutter” formats, this is crucial. If all you are is a corporate playlist and people reading liners and crap from the internet, the answer to that question is “nothing.”

2. What do you have that I can’t get ANYWHERE else?
And remember, it has to be relevant. Just being “different” isn’t enough.

The answers to these two questions will decide your future. There are too many entertainment alternatives available today for you to expect people to waste their time listening to boring radio. Do SOMETHING…rather than do nothing.

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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 $422: Inside Out, Outside In

There are basically two styles – Inside out, or Outside in.

“Inside out” shows are first fueled by the people in the Control Room thinking “What interests us will interest the Listener.” Maybe, but these shows are often asleep at the wheel in terms of welcoming in new listeners.

“Outside in” shows are a bit more interactive in terms of listener participation (getting more phone calls, social media response, etc.), but you’d better make sure that you engage people emotionally. As a listener, a “topic” that doesn’t touch my life is a waste of my time.

Either philosophy can work, but either type can fail, too. The key? Content choices, of course. It might help you to remember that merely “interesting” is never the same as Compelling.

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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 #420: Keep on Sharing

What you bring to the table besides your voice and the ability to read things off a computer screen is what decides whether people actually listen to you or not. Here’s a tip taken from a recent coaching session recap:

Keep on sharing. What you have in common with the listener is what brings her/him a step closer. Always bringing the listener closer makes the station a star, and each Personality a star.

The rest of the time, it’s just about being a good ambassador for the station, and being a good voice actor.

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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 #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.