Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #538: Not Being Predictable

A PD in a large market contacted me recently, asking if I’d like to work with their morning team. Since I hadn’t heard it, he was nice enough to send me some audio of the show. He also told me that the lead guy had enjoyed a great deal of success before he came to this station.

But it was pretty typical. Several things all tossed into the air at once. Phone calls about an innocuous subject that didn’t really surprise me. A spate of multiple punch lines to a bit given by two people at breakneck speed (so it couldn’t possibly sound spontaneous). It wasn’t bad, but there just wasn’t anything special about it.

Look, I’ve worked with hundreds of stations in every English-speaking format, coaching many hundreds of air talents, and not being predictable has been a key for all of them. (Consistent = good. Predictable = bad.)

Here’s a first step: Listen to your show yourself, and be honest about whether it would make you come back and listen to it again tomorrow.

Then, weed out anything that sounds typical. Hold your feet to the fire about WHY each thing is done. “This’ll be funny” isn’t nearly as powerful as “This will be something the listener can identify with.” I can hear “topics and phone calls” anywhere nowadays. Get out of the Control Room and meet me in my car. What matters to me (as a listener) supersedes what matters to you.

Oh, and about that team show, I doubt if the PD liked much of what I had to say about it. But I can fix them – if they’ll listen.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #536: The End of the Table

This is primarily a team show tip, based on an aircheck a friend sent me of him and his new female partner.

He’s very conversational. She’s LOUD. And this is something I hear a lot. People (regardless of gender) on the radio seem to get LOUD when they’re talking to each other.

I don’t understand that. You’re supposed to be friends. Why are you shouting at each other? And why are both of you shouting at me?

You want to talk loud enough to be heard at the end of the dinner table, not to be heard at the end of the continent.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #518: The Most Important Thing in Putting a Team Show Together

Over my more than two decades of “officially” being a talent coach, I’ve had a hand in putting dozens of team shows together. (I’ve coached over 300 of them.)

Here’s the most important thing in putting a team show together: Does each of them make the other person sound better?
Not just good. BETTER.

If they don’t do that, don’t put them on the air. Their “ceiling” is going to be low. They’ll reach a certain level, then flatten out.
And the listener may never even consciously think about it, but it will be noticed.

Ask yourself this: how many truly great team shows are there in your market? Even in Top 10 markets, it’s rarely more than a couple. All the others are just driftwood, taking up space on the beach.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2023 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #479: Next, Free Time, and Reminder – Team Show Communication

Having coached over 300 team shows, and doing 5 different team shows in my career, I can tell you that true team show communication is often elusive, or sometimes erratic. Let me help you with that.

The minute you close the mic at the end of a break, talk about what you’re going to do next. Lay it out, who’ll do what, etc. then go about your business. It’s free time now, to do whatever you want – talk to each other more (always a good idea), just have a little silent time, check your email…whatever.

Then with about a minute left before you’re going to go on the air again, everything stops. And you briefly go over what you had planned again – who’s going to start, etc.

This is SO easy, and it makes all the difference. You don’t talk each other to death and get bored with each other, and you don’t build in little resentments like “What did he mean by that? He was just staring out the window while I was talking to him.”

That little amount of planning, then free time, then taking a moment to go over the plan again, will give you a relaxed focus. Try it.

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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 Tip #472: How a Team Show is like Baseball

In baseball, the pitcher and catcher better know what the other is likely to do. If you’re a pitcher and throw the wrong pitch, what you don’t want is for the catcher to have to wait for it to stop rolling before he picks it up. 🤣

That’s why they use signals.

All team shows should, too. If you don’t, you’re not going to be as cohesive as you’d like to be. A simple “point at me as you’re saying your last word” leads to instant communication, effortless momentum, and being “tight” but not stepping on each other.

Two other signals:
Hold your hand up and point to yourself = “Come to me.”
Hold your hands up over your face = “Do NOT come back to me. I have nothing.”

This is a foolproof way to sound better.
It’s amazing how many teams have told me “We don’t need signals.”
Yes, you do. Make it easy for yourself and for your partner.

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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 #416: Team Show Tip — What’s Your Partner’s Role?

So many team shows are “the funny person, and the person who laughs at the jokes”.

But often, the funny person isn’t all that funny. And the person who laughs sounds insincere, or even reluctant to live that role.

First of all, there’s a difference between saying funny things (which is pretty rare) and “saying things funny”, which is all about “camera angles” and vocabulary.

But usually, it’s about a lack of “blocking” in the theater sense of knowing what you’re going to do, and where and when that will happen.

“We can’t rehearse. It always seems flat when we do it a second time” is an excuse I hear often, but it’s not about knowing exactly what the other person will say. If you talk about a break beforehand, you don’t have to know what they’ll say. You just need to know WHEN they’ll say it. (And you should know what KIND of comment to expect. That just grows out of knowing each other well.)

Hand signals – which most teams are reluctant to use – make this ultra-easy. It’s stunning how many people think they don’t need them. (And they’re wrong.)

And being willing to get out on the first “reveal” (the First Exit) is another technique that will guarantee success. (Because it’s a surprise even to YOU.)

If you’re just making your partner into an information giver and/or a laugh track, I wish you well, but I won’t be listening. It’s just too predictable.

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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 #402: Team Shows are like a Marriage

Anyone who’s done a team show knows that it’s very similar to a marriage. As a matter of fact, I know many air talents who refer to their partner as “my work wife” (or husband).

You spend a lot of time together. (If you don’t, you won’t be very good.)
You’re working toward shared goals.
You want it to last. (Especially now, “movement” isn’t nearly the same as it was 20 years ago. A new job is pretty hard to find when one company owns multiple stations. If you divorce one station, you probably divorce all the stations in that cluster, or maybe even all the stations in that company.)

So, remember this: If you “cheat” on a team show, it may bring on a divorce. Here’s how I define “cheating” in the radio context:
Hold your ego in check. If you don’t, resentment sets in.
If you habitually talk over a partner, resentment sets in.
If you don’t share the credit, resentment sets in.

And remember that nobody goes to a party to hear someone fight with his wife.

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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 Tip #198 – What Team Shows can Learn from Curb Your Enthusiasm

This tip is team show-centric, but it actually applies to everyone on the air.

What Team Shows can Learn from Curb Your Enthusiasm:

In every great show, there’s a thin wire to walk between being spontaneous, but still being aware of how it “plays” to the ear. Larry David’s HBO comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is a great example of how ensemble shows should work.

Everyone in that cast knows what the circumstance (the scene) is, but it’s not scripted. They may not even have a concrete idea of exactly how the scene will end, but what made that show so successful, to me, is that they’re sensitive to those “don’t try to do more” moments. That’s how you get that perfect form of being Consistent, but NOT being Predictable.

“Curb” is something every team show could study, learn from, and get better as a result. You might want to re-watch a few episodes.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #194 – THE Role Model for Team Shows

Often in coaching, I find that the best examples may lie outside the radio arena. A lot of the techniques and strategies I teach come from movies, music, and Sports.

At one station I work with, finding the right partner in a team show has been an ongoing issue. Having worked with literally hundreds of team shows, I was brought into the discussion of “what to look for.”

My example had nothing to do with radio: John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Here’s why…

Lennon was primarily known for aggressive, edgy songs like “Revolution”, “Day Tripper”, “I Am the Walrus”, “Help!”, “A Hard Day’s Night”, etc.

McCartney was mostly known for pretty songs, like “Yesterday”, “And I Love Her”, “Let It Be”, “The Long and Winding Road”, “Hey Jude”, etc.

But Lennon also wrote beautiful songs: “In My Life”, “Girl”, “If I Fell”, and “All You Need is Love”. And McCartney wrote some really powerful, straightforward rockers, like “Can’t Buy Me Love”, “Helter Skelter”, “Back in the USSR”, and “Drive My Car”.

And THAT’S what you want in a team show: people who may be defined by ONE thing each of them does, but they CAN do other things. Picture the Olympic rings – slightly overlapping circles with a common area they share, and a larger area that’s unique to each.

Two people who are nothing alike can result in a tug-of-war on the air. Two people who at least have SOMETHING in common, but come to that only once in a while to join forces – well, there’s that “extra dimension” that you should be looking for.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #193 – Just the 3 of Us

This is a team show tip, and there’s a special bonus prize included.

Okay, let’s say that you’re in a 2-person team show. Here’s how the listener sees it: It’s just the three of us, over lunch together (or over breakfast, if you prefer), and once in a while, a caller joins us.
Just like in real life, the third person at the table (me, the listener) may not be saying anything, but I’m still here.

Now here’s the Easter egg – a hidden secret from my vault:

You can have an exchange between the two of you with me at the table – but you can’t ever IGNORE that I’m at the table.

Read that last point again. The minute it feels like you’re JUST talking to each other, I might as well leave.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2017 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.