Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #436: The Learner’s Heart

One of the benefits of doing this talent coaching thing for a long time is that you learn how to appraise talent quickly. After just a couple of coaching sessions, one thing always stands out: the person with the learner’s heart is going to get better. The person whose ego gets in the way of learning isn’t going to progress much unless that changes.

So which one are you? Are you open to suggestion, to change, to experimenting? You can still have your opinions, of course, but to have that be a closed circuit just means standing still. If nothing else, getting thoughts from a different perspective from someone you trust will make your decision-making quicker and more certain.

Lebron James has a coach. So does Tom Brady. So has every Olympic champion.

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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 #432: MEAN Something

There’s this great scene in the old Paul Newman/Robert Redford movie “The Sting”. Redford’s character is questioning about the scam they’re pulling on the bad guy (played by Robert Shaw), and asks, “Do you think it’ll work?” Newman’s character answers, “Relax, kid. We had him twenty years ago when he decided to BE somebody.”

This has actually become a microcosm of the world we’re living in. Everyone hungers to “BE something” even if it’s just for a few seconds. A Twitter posting, a picture that gets “liked” by some social media throng.

Let’s apply this to radio. In coaching over 1700 air talents, I’ve found that it’s always a challenge when someone says he or she wants to ‘be’ somebody (to the listener). While you can certainly strive for that, that’s the shallow end of the pool. The real aim should be to MEAN something to the listener. When you’re the person who weighs in on what’s relevant in my life consistently, that emotional connection IS the point. You don’t just have ‘name value’; you have actual value.

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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 #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.