Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #485: The Phonies versus The Realies

There are things everywhere that apply to what we do. For me, one of those was a line from an old “Peanuts” comic strip when the cantankerous Lucy turned to Charlie Brown after something had happened and said, “It’s getting hard to tell the phonies from the realies.”

That’s a quirky line, but honestly, in radio, it’s not that hard. So, with apologies in advance for using the old-fashioned “he” pronoun, here’s a checklist:

The Phony tells you what to think. {“You’ll like this…”)
The Realie tells you what he thinks.

The Phony “pushes” a little too much.
The Realie has better technique and lets the mic do the heavy lifting.

The Phony does material that he thinks is funny or entertaining. The Realie does material that he believes the LISTENER will find funny or entertaining.

Start with the listener and work back to the Control room as the beginning of your process. Then just talk to that person.
Always give 100%, but don’t try too hard. Let me decide, one listen at a time, that you’re the best choice. If you need help, ask your PD, or work with a valid talent coach.

The goal is to be the best version of you.

– – – – – – –
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 #484: The Biggest Skill

The best air talents I’ve ever heard, regardless of age, format, etc. all have one thing in common. And I think it’s the “biggest” skill a person can develop.

They’re concise. They always seem to get a point across in fewer words than someone else would use.

Yes, this does apply to Talk radio, too. This isn’t about the length of a break (or a segment).
It’s simply been my observation that the person that ‘cuts to the chase’ is the one that gets quoted. And remembered.

– – – – – – –
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 #483: Everything You Say…

This may be an uncomfortable thought, but everything you say reveals something about you – whether you want it to or not.

If you’re in touch with the reason TO say it, you have a good chance of its being received as genuine, and digested by the listener as something worth hearing. If you’re not, and you’re just “trying to get done with it,” that will be felt by the listener, too.

I had a morning team once that insisted on prerecording every break they did into the Voxpro device they used for phone calls, and then playing it back on the air a few minutes later EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE SITTING IN THE CONTROL ROOM and could have done it live.

That, of course, is silly. I’m not knocking voice tracking, but that’s a different animal. I’m talking about being right there in the room and still choosing to be one step removed from live performance. Their excuse was, “We want it to be perfect,” which, of course, is unattainable, and made them sound just a little unnatural.
And obviously, their saying that to me revealed a lot about them, whether they meant it to or not.

Real people flub words, breathe, and don’t “announce” when they ask you to pass the salt.
As a talent, never fear stepping into the spotlight and delivering. That’s why you got into radio in the first place, because you can do that. So be you, and be right here, right now, working without a net. Even mistakes reveal something about you.

– – – – – – –
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 #482: Don’t Hide

Here’s a little story for you…

When I was Corporate Talent Coach for Paxson Radio, part of my job was to listen to airchecks that were sent in. We had 47 stations, and wanted real Talent in every position.

One guy followed up his aircheck with a phone call, and asked my opinion. I told him that most of what I had heard had been stock ‘bits’ – Trivia contests, ‘News of the Weird’ type of stuff, some forced-sounding laughter. Sensing that he was a little shaken, I added, “Look, here’s the thing. After hearing this, I don’t know who you are. You’re hiding behind ‘bits’ so much that I don’t have a sense of what your outlook on life is, what your values are, what your opinions are – things that we might connect on if I did.”

So…ask yourself if you’re still trying to invent new things, or just settling for the same ol’ same ol’. Is your show consistent (which is fine), or has it crossed the line into being predictable (which is death)? Do you offer insights, give opinions? Did I learn anything about you today? Or did you just “perform” some more?

In the end, the ‘bits’ are rarely what’s remembered. It’s WHO YOU ARE that sinks in. As I’ve said a million times, at some point you’re going to have to crack your chest open and show us what’s in there.

– – – – – – –
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 #480: The Other End of the Couch

This is a voice tip for radio, and artistically, the way you’re going to perform the best.

We’ve all heard way too many “foghorn” deejays trying to “impress” us with their big, impressive delivery. And it’s not just in radio — the “HI THERE!” bad disc jockeys are doing Sports on TV now, shouting at us about everything.
But that’s just so 1975.

Try this instead: just imagine someone sitting with you, on the other end of the couch. You want to be loud enough for that person to hear you, but no louder than that. Obviously, you’ll get more excited if the subject matter requires that, but as a rule, just settle down and talk to me.

The absence of the “disc jockey” delivery allows you the space to just be yourself. And then you can be organized, but still open to something flying into your mind ‘in the moment’ because you’re not trying so hard to be noticed.

As my friend and outstanding voice actor Beau Weaver says, “It’s not about your voice.”
I would add, “It’s NEVER about your voice.” It’s about being believable.

– – – – – – –
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 #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.

– – – – – – –
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 #478: Part OF the Music, or Just Waiting for the Song to End?

Here’s a question for you: Do you come across as PART OF the music, or like you’re just waiting for the song to end, so you can talk? You’re either going to a part of it, or not.

I’ve talked about this before, but you should want to match the mood, the “vibe” of the song, or match the pace of the song – or both – so you’re a PART of the listening experience.

Too many stations are running Imaging way too much of the time, and the air talent doesn’t get to talk often enough. We need to hear these people so we can bond with them. Just your tone of voice, or a little remark over the song, can say a lot.

I’m not bonding with your Imaging guy.

– – – – – – –
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 #477: Does Your Positioning Phrase Matter?

It depends on what it is, but only rarely have I heard a Positioning phrase or slogan that actually matters, especially if it’s just touting things like “12 in a row” or “50-minute music hours,” or the nebulous “More music.” (More music than what? My refrigerator?)

Anybody who wants to do so can make those claims, and somebody will, I guess, but why settle for that?

Here’s what you really are: What the listeners think you are when they listen to you.

So consider taking off a lot (or all) of the “sloganeering” and SHOW me why I should listen. It starts with THIS time you open the mic.

Note: there are stations whose Imaging actually means something. But I wouldn’t say they’re in the majority.

– – – – – – –
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 #475: If We’re Having Fun…

One of the most incomplete thoughts ever said to air talent is “If we’re having fun, the listener’s having fun.”

Ridiculous. If the LISTENER’S having fun, the listener’s having fun. You can be having a party in the control room, but if it doesn’t resonate with the listener, it doesn’t matter.

I ask this all the time: “Who’s our target listener?”
What I usually get is a white-page report being regurgitated to me, usually a demo bracket, some assumptions treated as fact, and not one example of how to pull that person in. It’s hardly ever about one clearly targeted listener.

If you assume that all listeners want is “fun” you can have a decent, but shallow pool. To become THE show in your format, in your city, or on your network, is a different thing altogether. Learn all you can about who – specifically – you’re talking to, and you’ll be fine. (“What about the rest of the family?” Win one person over first.)

How do you learn? Go MEET that person. The one who shows up at your event is a P-1. She has friends, too. They became friends because of what they have in common, and what they care about most. Having fun is one of those things, but certainly not the only one.

Just off the top of my head, I’d add these thoughts:
Be smart. Be kind. Be observational. And be aware of taking up the listener’s time.

– – – – – – –
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 #474: Never Be Afraid To Learn More

The other night, casually watching a New York Yankees broadcast with the most excellent Michael Kay and former great pitcher David Cone, something really struck me that Cone said. He was talking about a Yankees pitcher who had not had a good beginning last season, and made the decision to dramatically dive into the metrics that are available now – arm angle, spin rate, pitchers’ and batters’ “planes” that they pitch or swing on, etc. He totally revitalized his career when he learned about what more spin means, rather than just speed.

Think about that. These guys make millions of dollars, he’s done it one way his whole life, and all of a sudden, this guy makes a dramatic change.

The resistance to change is the greatest danger to radio. Great stations are always looking for more and better ways to connect with listeners, but a lot of air talents seem like they’re always reticent to change much, if at all.

However, just because it got you where you are doesn’t mean you’re going to stay there. Even at the Major League Baseball level, you can be on a bus back to pitch for the Bogalusa Smoothies in a heartbeat.

Listen to smart people who are looking forward all the time. Ask the PD to help you get better, or recommend they hire a coach for a few sessions a month. But always be looking for what will give an edge over the tree stump at the competing station doing the same show as yesterday and the day before that.

– – – – – – –
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.