Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #579: Observational or Experiential

There are only two basic types of Content: it’s either observational (you saw it or read it), or it’s experiential (you actually did it).

So…your initial camera angle will be either Observational or Experiential, and either way will work. It’s your choice.

But remember this: no matter which path you choose, some of YOU – what you think or feel about it – HAS to be in there, or it’s just quacking into the wind.

Side bar: This is the great mistake that people make by thinking that social media posts are “Grade A” Content. If you haven’t actually seen it or experienced it, you have no way to connect with the listener. Be wary of the “click bait” disease. Just because there’s a posting about it, and a bunch of people with a lot of time on their hands commented on it, does NOT mean that it’ll automatically work on the air.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #578: The Two Goals When You Open the Mic

It’s very possible to become overwhelmed by what you’re required to do by the higher-ups. Research studies, guidelines for Content, listener profiles that only provide one side of the equation, etc. can hamstring an air talent to the point that you can feel like there’s nothing you can say. Or you second-guess things, wondering if you’re meeting the sometimes lofty guidelines that are presented to you.

So, let me simplify things for you.

Everything we say on the air should either [A] reinforce what the station is all about, or [B] be about what we have in common with the listener.
There is nothing else.

The brilliant PD’s know this, and don’t get sidetracked with too many thoughts in mind.

Who are you? Why should I listen to you? How are you like me? Those are the unspoken questions in the listener’s mind.

Simple. Have a great day!

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #570: All That Matters is What Matters

Here’s a quick check of your Content: I believe that all that matters is what matters.

If you’re just doing “fluff” bits, even if something creates a chuckle, it’s not necessarily gonna make someone come back tomorrow. But that person probably will if you’re the best at talking about what matters to him or her.

Don’t misunderstand me – this doesn’t mean that you have to be “news-ish” or boringly serious all the time. That would go against everything I believe in. If you can make people laugh, that’s a great skill. I’m just saying that if you’re funny about what matters to the listener – the situation that he or she can identify with – not just a Subject that just fell out of the sky, you’ll be much better.

This was a hard lesson for me to learn in my own on-air career. But the great Lee Abrams, my Program Director in both Chicago and Cleveland, said to me one day, “Tommy, you can’t try to be funny every break.” That was a key building block in what I became, and in what I coach today.

EVERY mood is welcome – as long as it matters. And being truly Entertaining certainly isn’t just about punch lines.

Focus. What is your listener waiting to hear your ‘take’ on today?

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #568: The “Me Too” thing for Radio

Years ago, when I was riding my Brontosaurus to work, I was paired with a partner named Rick “The Beamer” Robertson to do a morning team show in Dallas. I drove there from Louisiana to talk to the P. D. about the gig, and met Rick for the first time when he arrived about a half-hour later. The first thing he did was to stick out his to shake, and say, “Hi, I’m Rick, your mail-order bride.”
I knew we were going to get along.

The station, sadly, wasn’t that great, but we worked hard to have a great morning show, and did well. It was a lot of fun.

But here’s where you get something to think about…

There was a galvanizing moment a couple of weeks into the job, when Rick and I had breakfast together after the show. (We did this regularly, and it’s something I recommend.) We were going over some stuff that worked well that morning, and Rick pointed out that when I talked about something personal, we got a lot of “Me, too” reactions. (And those listeners’ stories.)

Beamer was laugh-out-loud hilarious, but more performative. Over the next few weeks, we used his lightning-fast wit and a couple of performance bits, but we made a point of diving into his personal life quite a bit.

Frankly, he didn’t like this at first, but I explained it to him this way:

(1) My family and friends all knew that if they didn’t want something on the air, they shouldn’t let me know about it. Everything, every day, was fair game for Content on the air.

(2) The show couldn’t be just about us. It needed to be about ALL of us. To get people to reveal things about themselves, we talked about what we felt.

It worked really well for him, and brought out things in Rick that made him more familiar and three-dimensional.

That’s the lesson: The reaction that you want is “Me, too. That’s how I feel.”

Note: there’s a trick to this. If you just come across as always talking about yourself, that’s not good. So how do you avoid that, but still share? Specific techniques that, once you master them, lead easily to a “reveal” is a big part of my coaching. If you read these tips regularly, you’ll spot the Easter eggs.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #564: How to Make a Subject Work on the Air

I coach show prep and Content constantly. One of the questions I get asked about most is, “How do I make a subject work on the air?” Sometimes it’s a good idea, but that air talent just can’t seem to find the “connective tissue” that really clicks with the audience.

So, a couple of simple guidelines about Content:

1. Keep in mind that if it’s not Relevant, it WON’T work. I’m listening for the things that apply to my life, today. Period. A story about “Growing wheat on Mars” is of no relevance to me. (I’m hesitant to even get on a plane these days. Someone might decide to open the door at 25,000 feet.)

2. But if it IS relevant, simply tap into an Emotion that we have in common about it, and it WILL work. Every time.

It’s a drag hearing emotionless conversation or a lame attempt at trying to make something matter just because you thought of a punch line.

Answer this question and you’ll be on the right track: “How does it affect me (as a listener)?”

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #563: Talk About People’s Feelings

Years ago at a radio gathering in Nashville, a dear friend and outstanding morning show talent and I did a Content seminar.

My friend had himself drifted a bit himself, doing old creaky bits like “This Day in History” and “Stupid Criminal Stories”.

…until I started coaching him. In the seminar, we talked about dropping stuff like that, and being more real-life and specific to his area, when a person in the audience asked what was wrong with trying to get a little humor out of something like “This Day in History”.

I explained that it’s “empty calories” in diet-speak, because it doesn’t really tell us anything about you. And since it’s just factoids, there’s no connection between you and the listener doing stuff like that.

Then I said, “You need to be talking to the woman who’s in the grocery store and has a hundred dollars…but the bill just rang up as 120 dollars, so she’s having to take some things out of the shopping cart, and she’s embarrassed.”

Talk about what people FEEL. It cannot fail. You’ll be a star.
Yes, there are techniques involved, but I’ve seen this work for literally hundreds of people that I’ve coached.

What do you have to lose by throwing away stock bits that don’t mean anything to anyone now? Crack your chest open and let us see what’s in there.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #560: Overcoming Low Expectations

My dear friend Beau Weaver, Voice Actor extraordinaire, recently expressed some interesting thoughts about today’s radio.
One of the things he said was that most young people he talks to think of a deejay as that person who mixes music at a club. Younger demos don’t care much about radio; they care more about podcasts and You Tube influencers. Radio, as usual, gets little respect.

So okay, how do you change this impression? How do you avoid being thought of as less than we were a decade or two ago?

It’s simple: be about the Listener’s life. (And yours.)

Lots of air talents are quick to talk about their lives. But remember that you…come second. The listener’s life is the springboard; your story is the complimentary piece. Most stations seem to get this order wrong. “I – me – my” is the language of the self-obsessed “all about me” people that we would avoid in daily life.

The minute I found this principle in my own career, everything after that was easy. So I’m passing it on to you – free. Now the question is whether or not you’ll do it.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #558: Now and Then – A Lesson from the Beatles

Right at the end of 2023, an amazing thing happened. The great movie director Peter Jackson got with Giles Martin, son of the Beatles’ producer George Martin, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr, and using ‘computer learning’, salvaged a John Lennon demo of a song called “Now and Then”.

It became a massive hit (#1 in England, 54 years after their last #1, and the same type of reception all over the world). And the video Jackson created was remarkable. Using today’s technology, it “placed” John Lennon and George Harrison alongside Paul and Ringo, and truly felt like a new Beatles song, with a message that resonated everywhere — how we miss those that we love, and how much they affect our lives.

But it also fleshed out an interesting phenomenon. Thousands of people, from 76 years old, to people 7 years old, went online or made You Tube comments about how much the Beatles changed their lives.

The reason: When you move people emotionally, when they feel like someone else is feeling the same things they’re going through, that’s when they bond with you.

I talk all the time about finding the core Emotion of a Subject, and making sure that nothing you do on the air LACKS an emotion of some sort. The Beatles – almost 60 years after we first heard them – made that case.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #556: Your Show is a Movie

In the last tip, I said “Your show really is a movie without the camera.”

After you get past learning “the basics”, then develop a real Personality on the air, you’ll hopefully reach a stage in your career where the ego disappears and you actually just get in a zone where it’s almost impossible to have a bad show.

But I believe it requires getting outside of radio, mentally, and seeing each “Content” break you do as a little movie (without the camera).

What do I, as a listener, FEEL when you talk about something?
Great movies operate on an emotional plane. Example: ‘Star Wars’ wasn’t really about special effects. It was a space western, focused on good and evil. And two of the best decisions that George Lucas made were (1) picking Alec Guinness to play Obi-wan Kenobi, and (2) getting James Earl Jones to do the voice of Darth Vader. Because they’re great actors, and just their voices alone define what their characters are all about, and where the plot line is.

Think about this as you put something on the air. For instance, as you edit a phone call (or take one live), where’s that place that you’d get out, if this were a movie? I hear so many calls where the air talent just won’t take that first “exit”, and apparently can’t keep from summarizing or editorializing or playing psychologist. (Which poisons what we just heard.)

Really think about how you frame Content. First, select a camera angle and identify what emotion is at the core. Think about how to ENGAGE the listener. Shape the vocabulary. Decide if you want to use some music under it. (Hint: it should “cradle” what’s being said). Have a definite ending in mind.

When your show is like a little movie we watch every day, you won’t have to worry about your ratings.

If you haven’t gotten to this level yet, get a coach. (I actually know of one you could use. )

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #555: Finding the Core of a Topic

Okay, let’s go to work on why a topic (if we must use that word) clicks on the air, or just falls kind of flat.

Case in point, a husband-and-wife afternoon show I’ve coached for several years. They have lots of chemistry and a good sense of who the listener is, but like everyone, they need a little reminder now and then.

Our last session focused on thinking about subject matter in an artistic way; how to really bring something to life. Remember, the whole idea is to actually ENGAGE the Listener.

Here’s what I sent them in a session recap:

The other day, you got into a thing with this: So many times, we have inanimate objects that we decide to give them a name…”
Okay, that’s true, but why do I care? The reason is simple – that wording lacks a core Emotion.

But “We give names to the things we LOVE, like our cars…” is stronger, because it plugs into the emotional side of the brain, rather than just the intellectual side.

You’ll find that the starting place for prepping something is to find its Emotional “center”. It’ll frame the story, and shape the wording for you.

Yes, I know, I dwell on this a lot. But it’s the difference between a “blah” movie and a great movie that you wouldn’t mind seeing again.

And your show is really a movie without the camera.

More on that in the next tip.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (mobile)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2024 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.