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.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #366 – A Tip from Paul Newman

This is a “Next Level” tip.

A lot of what I coach comes from the acting world, not specifically from radio. Last week’s tip was a thought from Marlon Brando, and then I was reminded of this great piece of advice from an appearance the great Paul Newman made on an episode of “Inside the Actors’ Studio”:

“You can’t have a dramatic pause if you always pause. You can’t get someone’s attention by being loud if you’re always loud.”

When you “stretch” yourself and get different “reads” you start pre-selecting in real time. You have CHOICES, and avoid just “doing what you always do”.

Remember: Consistency is great, but Predictability is death.

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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 #365 – A Tip from Marlon Brando

Widely considered to be the best actor ever, Marlon Brando once said a key was “Never let them catch you acting.”

There are a ton of air talents who obviously haven’t ever considered this.

Never let ‘em catch you “listening to your voice” as you speak.
Never let ‘em catch you TRYING to be funny.
Never let ‘em catch you feigning an emotion.
Never let ‘em catch the mood you were in when you were arguing with your partner a few minutes ago off-mic.
Never let ‘em catch you sounding insincere when you’re talking about something serious.

Great actors make the roles they play look effortless, the same way that Michael Jordan made it look like he could jump up and just STAY up until he felt like coming down. You never see all the insanely hard work it took to make it seem that way. We already have the phrase “Be like Mike.” I’d think “Be like Brando” too.

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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 #364 – Be a Roomba

If you truly want to be a great air talent, be a Roomba. (Yes, the little robot vacuum cleaner.) Always be looking for “dust” – things you can do better, in radio terms. Be honest about your work. Listen to yourself like it’s someone else. What would your critique of that person be?

Team shows actually have an advantage, because everyone on the show can be on the lookout. If you trust each other and set egos aside, you can improve twice as fast!

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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 #363 – How You Start

In well over 20 years of coaching so far, I’ve worked with a lot of incredibly good air talents, some to refresh and regroup so they can STAY great; others to simply help them grow even more.
The flip side of that is working with people in the earliest stages of their careers. And it seems like the “newbies” all start with the same question, “What’s the secret?”

Here it is: be WORTH listening to. Whatever your subject matter is, whatever you say has to make some sort of impact. Not necessarily big, huge, dramatic impact. Simply being perceived as someone who’s actually talking to me, rather than just “a voice saying words”. That sounds easy, but it’s a daunting task for a young talent. It’s not about your voice. It’s not about being “funny”, per se. It’s just about being PRESENT, in THIS moment, every time the mic opens. Every…single…time. The minute you turn in a half-hearted effort, you deserve to lose listeners.

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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 #360 – The Better Idea

The Better Idea. That’s what always wins. Apple. Streaming. Social media.

As an air talent, limiting yourself to just trying to match the other guy, or just trying to do a decent job…well, that’s setting the bar too low.

What you should want to do is get better, get clearer on what you want to do, and get more proficient at doing it. Here are three easy steps toward getting better in just one month:

Step 1 – be able to tell someone, in detail, what your listener’s life is today. The more you know about the listener, the more relevant you can be. Relevance is ALWAYS the better idea.

Step 2 – do what the format allows, but make sure that you come across as a person, not just a voice. This is multi-layered, because we’re also voice actors, to a degree. Start with trying to sound ON the air just like you sound OFF the air.

Step 3 – Reject the typical or the easiest thing to do. Keep adding stuff all the time. Burn material like jet fuel. Try something this week that you’ve never done before.

That should jump start things. ⏱

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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 #359 – Your Station and…Relevance

You can’t MAKE yourself seem more relevant. You have to just BE relevant.

No ‘slogan’ (like “Favorites of the Eighties, Nineties, and Today”) will do this.

And it’s not confined to radio. A TV station where I live uses “On Your Side” as their slogan. I wasn’t aware that I took any particular side, but after watching their hapless evening news team, I don’t WANT them on my side.

Kleenex. That name probably has relevance to you. Lysol = hugely relevant, especially as COVID-19 proved.

At some point, your NAME has to STAND for Relevance.

So remember that what happens when the mic opens – usually in the first 10 seconds or so – is what either keeps the listener here, or chases that listener away. Say something relevant.

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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 #358 – The More You Learn…

Watching one of the 700 “home renovation” shows my wife loves recently, I was caught up in what a worker said.

This is a guy who runs one of those machines that excavates earth at an alarmingly fast rate. But he was interested in learning other things, too. So, even though he’s just starting out in a landscaping career, he apparently has an eye for the future as he said, “The more you learn, the more you’re worth.”

It’s the same in radio. The deeper your knowledge, the wider your skill set. And surprisingly, you also get better at executing any one particular task.

These are “next step” areas:
• Getting better at sounding natural.
• Getting better at putting just the right emphasis on the words to paint a visual picture in the mind of the listener.
• Getting better at transferring a real Emotion in whatever it is you’re talking about.
• Getting better timing.
• Getting a better and deeper understanding of the listener.

The minute you stop learning, you start slipping. We’re lucky to make a living moving air around. We OWE our profession a willingness to learn more about it.

(That’s why this website exists.)

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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.