Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #489: The Invisible Mic

This tip was birthed by a comment from Randy Fox of KSBJ in Houston. (If you’re not familiar with them, suffice it to say that it’s easily one of the Top 3 stations in the Contemporary Christion Music format, with a huge, devoted audience.)

During a recent session, Randy pinpointed a real strength of Morgan Smith, who does afternoons, saying “She makes the microphone invisible.”

What a nice compliment. That intimacy, where it just feels like a friend is talking to you, is – to me – essential, if you want to be a great talent.

Share something, sure, and if you’re excited, show that. But don’t try to be “bigger” or louder than a normal, animated conversation. Make the mic disappear.

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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 #459: How Many Times in a Year…

So think about this…

How many times in a year did you just do the info, but nothing else. “98.1 The Rock with AC/DC.”

Ho hum. Okay, I’ll give you an escape route. Here are two, no – three, no – make that four questions to ask yourself:

1. Did the tone of your voice differ from the last time you just gave the name of the station and intro’d a song?
2. Did you match the tempo of the song?
3. Was there anything in your voice that let the listener know that you like the song?
4. Do you even think about things like this?

If you don’t care enough to make some effort to SAY something, or at least be a human being speaking to me, not just an announcer, why not hit yourself on the head with a rubber hammer every ten minutes? At least that would be doing SOMETHING. Probably pretty entertaining. Certainly better than giving it the least effort you can.

My point is that great air talents make their fans look forward to the next time they talk. And they don’t waste opportunities to connect on some level.

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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 #453: It’s Better When We’re Just People

In a recent session, I had to deal with a member of a morning show trying a little too hard. This is something everyone needs to learn, and should revisit periodically if it “drifts” a bit. Here’s what I had to say to him…

Today I played you two breaks. The first one was your congratulating a contest winner, and we heard the natural enthusiasm that goes with that. The second one was a more intimate thought, but you “milked it” a bit by being overly sincere.

Remember, you want to give yourself to the words and trust them, delivering them conversationally. You’re just telling a friend, not ‘selling’ a thought.

It’s easy to fall back into “deejay” delivery, but we’re better when we’re just people.

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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 #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 #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 #277 – Dick Clark and the “Room Temperature” Voice

Man, there’s a lot of “Foghorn Leghorn” loudmouths on the radio these days – especially in Sports and Talk formats, but they’re honking away at full blast in other formats, too.

You do know you have a microphone, right? And the mic is the Listener’s EAR, so there’s really no need to shout into it.

Turn on the Game Show Network sometime and watch “The $25,000 Pyramid” and you’ll see the great Dick Clark.
Dick was really the first “veejay” doing American Bandstand, became known as “America’s oldest teenager”, did countless other things (his New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcasts were legendary), and was a terrific guest, if you ever had the chance to get him on your show. I did, with my first team show partner, doing “Hudson & Harrigan” on KILT in Houston. Dick prepped with asking our names, how we said the station’s name, and a quick summary of what he wanted to promote. Then, when we got him on the air, he treated us like he’d known us for 20 years and we’d just met for a backyard barbecue the day before.

On “Pyramid”, Dick was the consummate pro, handling the rules of the game effortlessly, showing contestants where they might improve, joking with the guest celebrities, etc. – all the while keeping the momentum crisp and the excitement up, with a “room temperature” delivery that never shouted at you. He didn’t need to be loud. He knew that by being a little quieter, it would sound more real, and that this delivery would draw you closer to him. You wanted to hear what he had to say, rather than wanting to find the volume control or the “mute” button.

Settle down. Talk to the listener. Be a human being. As Dick Clark proved, it works – for a long, long time.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2018 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #267 – KNOW Your Voice

Most air talents assume that if you’re on the air, you must have a good voice. But in reality, about half the people on the air in every format I hear have taken that for granted, and stunted their growth.

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some pretty impressive voice actors that you hear on national commercials, station Imaging, and movie trailers every day. And universally, the ones who are the most successful have really studied what makes them unique, and how to fully use the vocal tools at hand.

Here’s what I mean…the other day, I was listening to a female air talent who literally said everything in what would be about a 4-note range if I played the pitch of each word on a piano. I also heard a male air talent the same week who talks so fast, you wonder if he just drank 17 cups of coffee before he got on the air. Then there’s the “growler” that does the station imaging on the Classic Rock station here in Shreveport. Every word that ends a sentence is exactly the same pitch, and he always goes DOWN in pitch at the end. He thinks he’s making an impact, and he’s right – I want to hit him in the forehead with a mallet every time he speaks.

The female voice has unique challenges, too. Being generally more limited in range and volume than the male voice, it’s easy to sound whiny or strident.

The male voice – especially if it’s a “big” voice, can easily sound either mad or tired.

KNOW your voice. Learn your dynamics. Hone your skills. Learn what to avoid. Master varied approaches. Become a competent voice actor. It may sound rudimentary, but if your voice isn’t appealing, it won’t matter what you say.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2018 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #259 – The Death of the Big Voice, and Why

“He’s got such a great voice.”

We used to hear that a lot, but today, it’s virtually meaningless. In L. A. and New York, the big voices are doing tractor pull spots and horror movie spots, and you still hear the network TV guys doing that big, mighty “announcement” thing some, but be honest – doesn’t it just sound kind of cheesy?

The voice that gets the most work today is the midrange voice with great inflection. But even then, it’s not the old-school radio “emphatic” read; it’s more, as the great voice acting coach Marice Tobias says, “noticing” a word.

And as more and more jocks realize what today’s radio is all about, the big-voiced jock or Imaging guy sounds like a dinosaur. Here’s why: Radio is about Companionship. That friend in the car who’s just fun to be with; the one who makes everyone laugh. The one you want to invite to your backyard barbecue because he or she is good company, someone your guests will like.

No one stands up and ‘announces’ “Pass the ketchup, PLEASE.”
So if you’re a PD, rethink how your Imaging voice comes across. An INTERESTING voice is better than just a big one.

And as an air talent, let go of the big voice thing, even if you’re blessed with one, and just talk. Stop trying to make an impression and start trying to simply CONNECT with 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
© 2018 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #251 – Talking to Your Best Friend

Something happens when the mic goes on. Most people assume a delivery that’s either “giving information” or “making an announcement” or “presenting” something to the listener.

…as if the listener is some distant stranger who has this break arrive like an unwanted, slick, glossy ad for life insurance – for your pet goldfish.

But the great talents all know that no matter how important or significant a thought is, you still want to say it like you’d say it to your best friend, over a cup of coffee, like he or she is just 2 or 3 feet away (not 15).

By trying to sound more “important”, you become less important. By simply sharing a thought in a normal tone of voice (and normal volume level), you imply that “Hey, we’re buddies. Let me tell you something.”

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2018 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.