Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #491: Where Stories Are Born

In the last tip, I wrote about getting away from Information and concentrating on Storytelling. That tip and this one grew out of an email conversation my associate John Frost and I had with the PD of a station we both work with. Let me share it with you…

It’s kind of like John Lennon wrote in “With a Little Help From My Friends” — “What do you see when you turn out the light?” was his question. For our purposes, it’s simply, “What do you see?”

When we’re in the grocery store, watching someone pick out a tomato with one hand while she holds her child’s stroller with the other. Or just staring out the window, and we see a leaf fall that signals the season changing. Or getting an email or text from an old friend you haven’t heard from in a long time. What catches our attention is the starting place. That’s where a story is born. Baseball great Yogi Berra said it best: “You can observe a lot by watching.”

I believe, and I’m sure Frost agrees, that telling stories is the most important ingredient in radio.
The next tip will be about how to put a story together.

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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 #490: Information is Not a Story

Information and Stories are totally different. Yes, we use information in the telling of a story, but in coaching talent on storytelling, I’ve often found that they often do one or more of these three things:

(1) overshoot, trying to dress up so-called stories from Facebook or the internet that the listener may not care about at all,
(2) choose “stories” that are too full of factoids and details, or
(3) invent not-quite-plausible scenarios as a way to get in a line they thought of and were determined to use.

So here’s the deal:

Everything you and the listener have in common has a story behind it, and new stories get added to that memory pile every day – if you’re smart enough to capitalize on them.

“Just the facts, ma’am” is a police report. What happened, and the emotion(s) generated by that = a story.

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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 #488: The Biggest, but Simplest Content Thought

Let’s make this easy, and get to the real core of how to be a terrific air talent.

Your job is to share what you see about, and what you feel about the things you have in common with the listener.

Everything else is just nuts and bolts. If you don’t have the ability to zero in on what matters most to the listener, then you need to run, not walk, to your PD and find out who your target listener is.

When you can visualize what’s going on in the listener’s life, you can be relevant and worth listening to. If you can’t, and just talk about what interests you, then you’re a disposable commodity, not a “must listen” talent. Even worse is the real “show about nothing” (Seinfeld’s show wasn’t really that; it was a show about what that generation was like in the 1990s.) When you’re just talking about “click bait” stuff you see online or on social media, you’re just another drone.

If you settle for that, you’re turning your back on what will make you stand out. And you’re helping to make radio boring.

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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 #481: What You Say vs. What I Feel

Get this: it’s not about what you say. It’s about what it makes me feel. I, the listener, will make up my mind pretty quickly about this. Information is fine, but unless I feel something about it, it’s just not relevant.

You have a choice when you open the mic. You can scatter words all over the place, but unless it fires up a pilot light inside the listener, it’s just ‘blah – blah – blah.’

If I feel entertained, that’s good. If I feel like you’re someone I might like to be friends with, that’s even better. But if I only feel like you’re using “filler” stories and material that I can’t identify with, then it’s pretty much a strikeout.

A final thought — if you’re funny, it’ll show. But if you try too hard to be thought of as funny, that’ll show, too. So if you can resist the “I want to be funny” agenda, and meld the selection of meaningful, relevant Content with a natural-sounding delivery, you have a chance to become truly great.

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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 #476: THE 2 Content Guidelines

All great air talents know this. But the road from good to great is a little muddy sometimes. So here’s an easy “sifting” tip — the only two real Content guidelines:

1. Hopefully, what you’re talking about is something that the listener cares about.

2. But it should at LEAST be something that the listener has an interest in. Has. Already.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:
If it’s not in one of those categories, why are you doing it?
Why put yourself in the “trained seal” arena with your Content? If you’re just “performing” prep sheet stuff, you’re not as good as you could be by focusing your Content selection process.

It’s very hard to get someone’s attention if it’s just something you find interesting, or even worse, if it sounds like you’re trying to force me to have an interest in it. When I don’t care, I don’t care. And while silly is sometimes fun, it can also just be silly. (It’s about context. It still begins with one of the two categories.)

Look around you. What about where you are and what you see do you have in common with the listener? Talk about that. Add your personality. Simple.

Great shows aren’t cookie cutters. They’re INDIVIDUAL.

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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 #469: An Action Plan for When Disastrous News Hits

The shootings in Uvalde, Texas last week at Robb Elementary School were undoubtedly a tragedy, but they were also was a moment of truth for your radio station and your show.

Basically, you had two choices:

(1) Pick a specific topic inside the story (gun control, mental illness treatment, etc.) and then seek listener feedback, or
(2) Avoid a “topic” sound, and simply go with something like “We all saw the News, we know what happened, let’s talk about what we’re feeling today.”

The first is the most standard, has some options, and will (did) get solid reaction. The second is more intimate, and can help avoid having it all turning political.

Each will work, or a mix of the two (in different hours) will work, but I would lean toward the second strategy. By dropping from “radio” to a more direct approach to the Emotions we all were feeling is the deeper end of the pool.

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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 #465: “Topics” are just Springboards

Topics are just springboards to reveal emotions. (Please read that sentence again.)

These thoughts will help you:

1. If you’re just talking about a subject, but I’m not in that picture, it won’t work well.

2. If it is about the Subject and about me (the listener) but not about YOU, too, you’re still missing an ingredient.

3. And anything that doesn’t have a clear emotion at the center of it is just fodder.

This is why all great Content comes from what’s around you that you and your listener have in common or can identify with, and feel something about. Otherwise, it’s just a “topic” – which I consider to be basically the same as drain cleaner.

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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 $455: How to Get Into Something

How you get into a subject is the first great skill. When you can get to the point easily and concisely, you have a better chance to get the listener to join you.

For years, people have been taught the “headline” mentality, which is a decent thing to keep in mind, but that can also work against sounding conversational.

Keep these thoughts in mind…

1. You have about twenty seconds to “tether” the subject to the listener. Don’t rush, but don’t waste words, either.

2. Start with the Subject first, or start with the Listener first, instead of starting with yourself. Your show is about us, not just about you.

3. You want the listener to be able “see” himself/herself in whatever situation you’re describing.

Refine this one skill and you’ll have a lot fewer ‘swings and misses’ with your Content.

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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 #454: The Real “Gold” – a Content Tip

The thing I work with on the most with practically everyone I coach is Content. It’s difficult to know what works, because you can’t count on accurate feedback from the phone lines. So here’s the simplest way I can explain it:

Anything you have in common with the listener that leads to some sort of emotional “reveal” is gold.

Now read that again. No prep sheet item, no social media posting that lacks those two key ingredients – what you have IN COMMON with the listener, and an Emotion being revealed – will work as well without them.

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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 $452: Any idiot…

The great Larry Ryan in Shreveport, Louisiana, was my first true radio mentor. In our first aircheck session, he stopped the tape and said, “Any idiot can sit there and intro songs…”

That empowered me to DO something on the air. (Larry would keep saying it until you did.)

To update this: Any idiot can read a social media post. I can read Facebook or look at Instagram, etc. without you. What else have you got? What’s something personal you can share with me that we have in common? Use YOUR life…OUR lives.

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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.