Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #384 – Choose ONE

In a recent session, I went over a break the air talent had done with a nice message: how just saying “hi” to someone who’s been emotionally damaged or mistreated may be ‘revolutionary’ to that person.

But he loaded it down with too many examples before settling on that one gesture. There’s a tendency for us to be like lawyers, “stacking up evidence” to fortify our point. But you’re not paid by the example; you’re paid by the CONNECTION.

So whenever you could give a “laundry list” of examples, just choose one to draw a smaller, more precise target for the Emotion to center on.

A closer “sphere of vision” will bring out the more personal, visual, and emotional elements in your Content and its delivery.

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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 #382 – Memories and Shared Experiences

When you do something on the air that makes the listener think “Me too,” you hit the jackpot. Memories and shared experiences aren’t just about what happened and when it happened. They’re about the Emotions that people feel when they go (or went) through them.

This is why “interesting” isn’t the same as “relevant”.

When you tap into Emotions, you gain DEPTH.

Most of the subpar shows are just about things, data, facts, and “fluff” srories. These are almost always boring. But when an emotion is called up, people “lean in” with their ears.

Emotions are the goal of everything that we do.

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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 #380 – A Tip from Acting Teacher Roy London

If you’ve worked with me or read any significant amount of my stuff, you know that a lot of what I coach comes from the acting world. Although he only lived to be 50 years old, Roy London has been a heavy influence on me. A fine actor himself, over the last fifteen years of his life, Mr. London became one of the premier acting teachers in Hollywood, a profound influence on the likes of Sharon Stone, Jeff Goldblum, Hank Azaria, Geena Davis, and Garry Shandling, just to name a few.

One of London’s main tenets is “It’s all about Love. Every choice comes from trying to connect with Love.”

Man, that is spot-on. While some radio talents have had success being negative and snarky, the ones that most people hold dear are the ones who are consciously trying to connect on a human level. And Love is the highest of human values.

Carry this forward. Even if you joke about someone, make sure that it’s always coming from a loving place. Garry Shandling illustrated this perfectly, describing the relationships between his character on “The Larry Sanders Show” (which I think may have been the best show ever on American television) and his Ed McMahon-like sidekick “Hank Kingsley” (played by the wonderful Jeffrey Tambor). Shandling said a line such as “You’re an idiot” couldn’t be delivered like he hated Hank. Instead, it carried a “but I still love you” vibe – and if hadn’t, it wouldn’t have worked. It was important that we understood that the two characters had a mutual love and respect, even when one of them acted like a moron.

Listen to your show. Is this coming across? Or are you just another tiresome jock looking for someone or something to be the butt of a joke?

The answer will define your career.

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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 #379 – Why Your Slogan Can Mess Up the Air Talent

My brilliant friend and associate John Frost recently heard a station that used the slogan “We Actually Care.”

These people are obviously…well, stupid. As a coach, this concerns me, because the air talent that has to live UP to what the station says about itself is virtually crippled by it.

First of all, the only possible inference of that phrase is that they’re better than the stations that DON’T “actually” care. (But I’m not familiar with any station that has “We Actually Don’t Care” as their slogan.)

Second, there’s a language lesson in this – let’s call it “the unnecessary adverb” rule. The word “actually” is superfluous, and doesn’t strengthen anything.

But third — and most important — how is the air talent supposed to back this up? The result, if they even try, will be sugary soap opera-ish B. S. that has little chance of any real success.

Be wary of what your “Positioning Statement” says. If it’s just “marketing your aspirations” or nebulous word salad, it’ll just lie there flat.

This is why I don’t believe in positioning statements at all. Let your ACTIONS define your station, and simply let your NAME be the Brand. Be clear that an IDENTIFIER, like “The Classic Rock Station…92.5 KZPS” is fine, but let’s get away from meaningless “sloganeering”.

Then the air talent can “Actually” just pour effort into being relevant and entertaining. What a concept.

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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 #376 – Be a Part OF the Music

What really works in any field isn’t much about finding something completely new as it is about finding a way to build on something old, but making it better. We’ve had phones forever, for instance. But the Blackberry, then the iPhone changed what we can do with them – and what we now EXPECT from them.

The point is, there’s a tendency to categorically reject “old” ideas, and that’s often the biggest mistake. Radio is making one now. With all the technology we have available, and all the “sabermetric” data we now use, we’ve largely lost one thing that used to be the core of every great station – the connection to the music we play. Simply put, I rarely hear a station anymore that respects the music at ALL.

Imaging pieces blare right over the last word of a “cold”-end song. Fades are either ignored, where the air talent jumps in too soon, or the other extreme, where the song dies out completely. Or a “cold” end song ends abruptly, and then there’s dead air. The computer’s running everything. The talent is asleep at the wheel.

It’s not cured by something as simple as putting the cue tones in the right place (although this is ESSENTIAL). It’s also about a sensibility that we want to be PART OF the music, not have the music just be noise that plays until we make our next ‘brilliant’ remark.

If you don’t show an awareness of the music you’re playing – not just the lyrical content or little trivia pieces about the artists, but the “vibe” that song creates – you’re only giving the listener a “playlist” with jibber-jabber thrown in.

Remember, the listener can go to iTunes or You Tube or Amazon Music, etc. and get the music WITHOUT YOU. Be part OF it, and it’s just a lot easier to connect.

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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 #375 – The “Chopped” Criteria

“Chopped” – the TV show on The Food Network – wasn’t in my sphere of awareness until just a couple of years ago. My wife is addicted to watching people compete in this cooking competition where contestants are asked to take “basket ingredients” like yak thighs, pine cones, elderberry stems, and the bumper from a 1964 Buick, and make a meal out of them.

It’s fun, and the competition is serious, presented in a “steel cage gladiator death match” format. But since I’m always looking for ways to help people sound better, what resonates with me is the “Chopped” criteria: Presentation, Taste, and Creativity.

In radio terms, you can always work on Presentation – even when the goal is to avoid sounding “presentational”.

Taste is any easy one. It’s mirroring the taste of your listener. You’re “cooking” for her or him.

And Creativity is simply the biggest dividing line in radio. If you haven’t found your creative “muscle” yet, listen to great stations, read great books, watch great movies. Soak it up. Just like you would that redeye gravy that girl from Louisiana just made on Chopped. Yum.

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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 #372 – How to Use Listener Feedback on the Air

Whenever you’ve got something working, and the phones are active, it’s important to not have responses just blend into only one ‘camera angle’. Varying emotions being expressed and BREVITY are mandatory.

Just like a great movie. Whenever the plot starts to get too familiar, or a scene lasts too long, it doesn’t work.

So…you want a different thought in each call, not just the same premise with different names or details. And all you want to use is a little one-thought “bullet” from the call. Remember that each call you air is a sound bite, and the SUM of the sound bites is the complete conversation.

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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 #369 – A Goal Without a Plan

Football player and coach Herm Edwards said, “A goal without a plan is nothing but a dream.”

You want to get better. We all do. But how? If you don’t have a plan, you may luck into something, but probably not. And even then, you’ll be tested. Something will come up, like a hurricane, or the Coronavirus, or the Black Lives Matter movement, and you’d better have some process in place that’ll work for you. As we’ve seen, people often blurt something out that backfires on them.

Herm Edwards can tell you the answer: Coaching.
If you can’t afford coaching, ask your PD to do regular aircheck sessions with you.
If that isn’t feasible, get together with a friend – or multiple friends – and listen to great radio. Or even better, do group aircheck listening sessions in a “safe room” environment where everyone’s thoughts are considered. (Great staffs are often the result of this.)

But don’t just assume that experience alone will transform you into a top-level Talent. Like football, like golf, like playing a musical instrument, it takes work. But ours is a creative profession, so the “work” can actually be FUN.

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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 #368 -Mean It

When you open that mic, the most important thing to do is what seems like the easiest one: MEAN IT.

But this is actually very difficult to do without some training. If you sound even the slightest bit insincere, or like you’re just serving up information with no real emotional investment in it…well, that’s why everyone’s impression of an air talent is that kind of pukey, surface-level-but-no-deeper “announcer guy” (or vapid nitwit).

ESPECIALLY if you’ve been blessed with an exceptional voice, remember that Emotions top “a great voice” every time. If you sound like you actually MEAN what you’re saying, your listener will feel it. If you don’t, in baseball terminology you “just fouled one off your own foot.” A lack of credibility is never anyone’s first choice.

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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 #367 – Promos: Stop Telling Me what to Think or Feel

Not long ago, I saw a TV ad for a European car, and the voiceover began with “The thrill you’ll feel when you sit down behind the wheel…”
No. I’ve driven one of those cars, and because it sits about 4 inches off the ground, I didn’t feel the “thrill,” I felt like I was getting a colorectal exam at sixty miles an hour.

This ‘telling people what they think or feel’ (or what their reaction should be) is really annoying. Al Ries and Jack Trout call it “Marketing your aspirations.”

It’s rampant in radio, too. Just this week, I heard a morning show promo that said “Great stories, and lots of laughs” (or some other bragging drivel). Not true. I heard them, and their stories were “pat” and predictable, and the farthest thing from “laughs” I could imagine. They just recycled stories from the internet, and plugged their Facebook page.

Instead of constantly telling your listeners what you WANT them to think or feel about your show or your station, just promote the Benefits of listening to you. The best show promo just plays me a clip of the show, then tags it with who you are and when you’re on.

Let the listeners decide for themselves. Let go of the hype. No one believes it.

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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.