Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #419: Start with the Name, then Add

Better voice acting is always part of the quest, and that starts with how you say the station’s name.

On my stations, we put it first (the first thing out of your mouth) for a reason, like the Jif label on the outside of the jar. So it’s important that you have an “I like peanut butter” sound. With that thought in mind, then all you have to do in MusicRadio is simply match the tempo and emotional ‘vibe’ of the song, and you’ll be right in the pocket….a part of – and logical extension of – the music, instead of interrupting it to sell something. From there, you just continue with whatever the Content is. But you’re already more “ear friendly” from this one technique.

Note: I believe in the name of the station first in all formats. Not every market has PPM. If you’re a diary market, it’s important to get CREDIT for what you do. So plant that seed.

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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 #411: The Prime Directive for Content

The Prime Directive was the guiding ‘mission statement’ in Star Trek.

Here’s ours, in music radio:

Whatever you want to say needs to be as good as your best song.
If it’s not, why are you saying it?

This manifests in two ways – Subject matter, and Delivery.

Subject matter should be top of mind, and you want the listener to be able to easily see himself/herself in that situation.

Delivery: “as good as your best song” can be in the WAY that you say something. Sounding like you actually care (with some degree of emotional engagement). Painting a good word picture. Or simply being a good companion to the music, rather than an interruption.

Unless I’m working with you, I can’t tell which of these you need to work on. But I’ll bet there is one.

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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 #409: A Lesson in Greatness – Robert W. Walker

Radio used to be populated by “big” voices, guys with a cannonlike delivery who ANNOUNCED or PRESENTED things.

But then it changed, and one of the best examples of how is my friend Robert W. Walker. Rob didn’t have a huge voice, but it was an ultra-easy-to-listen-to voice. He wasn’t “jokey” funny, but his insights (especially when he made himself the butt of the joke) were often hilarious. He pulled you in toward him. It seemed intimate, one-on-one.

He also was a brilliant writer and Production talent. Some of his station promos raised chill bumps when you heard them.

But I would classify his main talent as something that sounds very simple: People just LIKED him. He was what everyone in radio thinks they could sound like, but not that many actually can.

I think there are two main things to learn from Rob:
1. Never underestimate being likable.
2. Never think about your voice. Just be you.

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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 #407: The Rule of Three is now the Rule of Two

The old comedy axiom is that the 3rd time gets the biggest laugh: watch any old sitcom or comedy movie and you see it over and over. Something gets a laugh. A few minutes later, it gets repeated, and gets another laugh. Finally, much later, there’s a “call-back” and it gets said again, and that’s the “big” laugh. That’s the Rule of Three.

But now, that’s outdated. Everyone’s attention span is shorter now. The Rule of Three doesn’t apply anymore. Now it’s just 1, 2 instead of 1, 2, 3. To sound like TODAY, you need to shorten that rhythm of yesterday. If you do it a third time now, it usually just sounds like you’re trying too hard. (Or maybe it doesn’t even make sense, because Time Spent Listening is so much shorter now.)

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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 #404: More Music Shouldn’t Mean Less Personality

It’s a big challenge for a Programmer. You want people to listen, so you play their favorite songs. But if all you are is a playlist, you’re not even competing in the radio world. You’re competing with entities like Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Music, iTunes music, etc. (Even my cable TV network has dozens of music channels.)

What every station should want is effortless flow and momentum, but still having (or taking) time to DO something. “More music” can often mean “less Personality”. That’s a death trap.

But on the other hand, “No restrictions”, the opposite side of the coin, is a trap of a different kind. Great personalities have to be as good as the best song you play, too.

Music. Personality. You don’t want one without the other – in ANY daypart.

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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 #403: The Big Goal, and How to Get It

It’s easy to wonder why radio stations sometimes decay, or never really become top stations. This needn’t happen. Bill Young, PD of KILT in Houston for many years, was a major influence on me and countless others who worked for him. Before it became okay to own a zillion stations, Bill had an AM and an FM that were both hugely successful for one reason: he filled the hallways with the most talented people he could find. Then he let them do what they do: create great radio, great Production, great Promotions, and come up with great ideas that challenged the “We’ve always done it this way” prison.

My friend “Brother Jon” Rivers, a great Top 40 jock who then became probably the best-known personality and Programmer in Contemporary Christian radio at KLTY in Dallas, put it this way: “If you hire enough really talented people, you eventually reach ‘critical mass’, where the station EXPLODES – in a good way. It gets so good in every area that success is just a byproduct.” That’s the Big Goal.

If your station isn’t this way, I would recommend doing everything you can to change it. Hire the brightest minds. If budget is a challenge, hire young, less experienced people and let them grow under this umbrella.

I’m not one of those “everything was better in the old days” people, but in radio, that certainly can sometimes be true. ALWAYS look for the creative “spark” when you make a hire.

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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 #399: MEAN it

It’s essential that you have some sort of emotional investment in what you’re saying, whether it’s just reading copy, giving an opinion, etc. In short, you need to sound like you MEAN it.

Yes, it’s a challenge, especially with something you’ve talked about a zillion times on the air, like a station promotion, feature, or contest.

But if you don’t sound like you mean it, no one is going to pay much attention to it.

Here’s a tip: when I go through “copy”, I mentally highlight (or even physically underline) the ONE word in each sentence that I want to stress. It only takes a few seconds of this prep work to make sure that it “imprints” on the mind of the listener.

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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 #397: Taking Credit for NOT Talking About it

In view of what happened at the nation’s capitol on January 6th, there’s an important caution – and concept – concerning what you should do when something like this dominates the news.

A lot of stations in some formats (like A/C or Contemporary Christian Music, or any music format, actually) choose to simply not talk about it. The danger here is coming across like an ostrich with your head stuck in the sand, like you don’t even know about what happened. This is not something I recommend, although it is better than alienating your audience by sounding off with an opinion that could severely damage your listenership.

The 2nd – and better – way to handle it is to take credit for NOT talking about it. A simple statement like “We’ve all seen what’s in the news right now, but just know that this morning when you’re taking the kids to school, we’re NOT going to be talking about that.” (Same for “picking up the kids” in the afternoon, or “running errands today.”)

You get credit in the mind of the listener for (1) being aware of it, even though you’re not talking about it, and (2) co-parenting, in a way, or at least being someone who’s not going to force the listener to discuss something with their kids that they might not want to discuss yet.

Believe me, this works. It builds TRUST, a huge factor that you should want in your favor.

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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.