Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #383 – Nothing is Worse than Being Ignored

One of the main things to keep in mind for any air talent is something that strikes to our very core as human beings: nothing is worse than being ignored.

If you’re on the air, but nothing you do or say really “grabs” the listener, it’s a waste of time.

Here’s a litmus test: What stood out today about your show? (Or any day’s show, for that matter?) You should be able to think “Oh yeah, yesterday was when we did this…”

If you can’t recall something memorable from your show, neither can the listener. We all know about stations who’ve been in a market for years, but with no real success. Let’s not be one of them.

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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 #357 – SPECIAL EDITION: Coronavirus Guidelines

We’re in uncharted waters right now, because the Coronavirus is the #1 subject locally, nationally, and globally…

So let’s look at it both Strategically and from a Coaching perspective.

Strategy

These are the core ingredients in what we should want to air right now:
Acts of kindness
Stories of hope
Examples of self-sacrifice…

In short, be the “glass half full” station. If that seems corny to you, grow up. Negativity and Fear are everywhere. If you feed them, they get worse.

Coaching Tips

The Coronavirus isn’t the subject of every single break (you still want to be entertaining, too), but the virus IS the “backdrop” of everything.

If a large portion of the Content is people sharing about what the virus means in their lives, then remember that it’s not just their sweet stories, but also their concerns, and what that means in terms of being a good wife/husband/neighbor.

Something along the lines of “Yes, we’re going to play lots of songs and keep you up on the weather and traffic, etc. but let’s talk, if you want…”

Keep these things in mind:
Whenever there’s a “theme” (like taking calls about a certain thing), two ingredients are essential…

[1] A different emotion each time. If calls are all the same emotion, but just different details, that’s gonna get old quickly.

[2] Keep ‘em short. A call isn’t a conversation, it’s a sound bite. The SUM of the sound bites is the conversation.

It’ll be a challenge for some air talents to steer away from “It’s gonna be all right” platitudes and “Hallmark card” affirmations, but do your best. Remember that something as simple as your tone of voice can calm people and connect with them.

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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 #354 – You Can’t MAKE Something Matter

Content, Content, wherefore art thou?
Minutia, “filler” items, stupid lists like “12 things you can do with chili peppers,” reading vapid social media postings that a lot of people’s own relatives don’t care about. Why are we settling for this?

I probably get asked about Content and Show Prep more than anything else. It’s impossible to tell you what will be good Content tomorrow, but I do know the principle that makes it easier – and FAST:

You can’t MAKE something matter. It either does, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, blathering on about it or making stupid jokes to try and “dress it up” won’t work.

So how do you know what matters? KNOW YOUR LISTENER. Not some cold, hard, station profile; but who he or she is, what they look like, where they came from, what their lives are like. The more you can put yourself in the listener’s shoes, the easier it is to serve subjects up like Bobby Flay fixing breakfast.

Hold your feet to the fire on NOT doing ANYTHING that doesn’t matter. It’s magic.

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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 #332 – Everyone Has a Story, But…

The saying is that “Everyone has a story.”

That may be true, but the problem is that most people aren’t very good at TELLING it.
That’s why you have to EDIT them.

It’s Beginning > Middle > End.
What it should NOT be (but we hear way too often) is “Meandering” beginning > Middle that’s too long > Ending that’s predictable, or something being repeated that was said earlier in the story.

TAKE OUT what’s nonessential. When you eliminate unnecessary details and nebulous “side roads”, and you don’t try too hard to either make it “meaningful” or to somehow get to some punch line that just comes across as silly or insincere, you’ve left more room for Emotions. And that – the Emotional Core at the center of a story – is what impacts 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
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #323 — Kick Out “Kicker” Stories

The main challenge in bringing great Content to the table each day is that it takes a little work – something that it seems like the vast majority of air talents now see as more of a nuisance than anything else.

So what we get a lot of the time is the “kicker” story – one of those supposedly “amusing” stories like the “stupid criminal of the day” tripe, or innocuous, space-filling items like one I saw the day of this writing, “What your crush on Keanu Reeves actually means, according to science.”

This is the lamest form of show prep. Here’s why:

1. No one really cares.

2. Anybody who DID care already saw it. (You’re not the only one with internet service, you know.)

3. There’s nothing personally revealing in it. You’re just reading something, then maybe throwing in a comment. Any idiot can do that.

If you really want to improve your show’s Content, start right now by refusing to do ANYTHING that doesn’t matter to – or isn’t relatable to – your listener. Those “kicker” stories are just things to take up space on the page between the ads anyway. You won’t miss them, and your listener CERTAINLY won’t miss them.

When what you talk about actually matters to the listener, you have a real chance to build a solid career. “Radio personality” is a different definition than just “disc jockey”.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #318 – Where You NEVER Want to Go

In essence, the air talent’s job is to take us somewhere…a journey, from beginning to end. One break at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time.

As you do, either you leave a mental “imprint” on the listener, or you just go by unnoticed, a mosquito making a noise in the background.

While there have been tons of books written about this, one thought, originally from the great acting coach Stella Adler, and used to perfection by my friend Valerie Geller in the Talk radio world, sums it all up: Never be boring.

Stella Adler put it this way:
“You can’t be boring. Life is boring. The weather is boring. Actors must not be boring.”

There’s an easy way to avoid being boring. Simply ask yourself this: “What do I have to offer that won’t be ‘typical’?” Because THAT is what will set you apart from almost everyone else across the dial.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #309 – Jump Into The Pool

The other day, during a session, we were talking about what to do for Mother’s Day. I mentioned having my mother do my show one Mother’s Day years ago, and the talent I was working with said, “I could bring my daughter on with me…which she would hate.”

I replied, “And that – her being resistant to it – would be something EVERY listener could identify with.”

Continuing, I suggested that she act out – complete with sound effects – her dragging her daughter into the room. Like…with a chain, scraping across the floor. Dripping with reluctance.

So here’s the lesson: Don’t be afraid to make things theatrical. The more you create that “theater of the mind” thing, where the listener can PICTURE it, the better.

Unlike real life, JUMP INTO THE POOL.
DON’T look to see if there’s any water in it first.
Because all people are going to remember is that you jumped.

Note: My friend Ron Chapman, legendary Dallas morning man, once jumped out of an airplane on the air. THAT was GREAT radio.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #304 – How Stories Work

Telling a story is like being on a see-saw. On one end is that you want to share something. On the other end is not wasting the listener’s time.

Here are some rules to help you NOT be the person who takes a long time to tell a story that doesn’t matter:

The first line or two will be what “tethers” your subject matter to the listener – or not. Start abruptly into something that isn’t timely or relevant to the listener, and you’re dead in the water already. Spend too long getting into it, again…dead.

Add only the essential details, and let vocabulary and attitude, fueled by Emotions, fill it out. More facts than we need, names we don’t know, too much setting up who someone is, etc. will kill the story.

End with something we DIDN’T hear earlier in the story. The ending should surprise, delight, or inform. Try not to use cornball punch lines. The “that’s what SHE said” type of line is beaten to death.

Here’s an example, from a team show I worked with:

T: Oh, check your mail today. You may get the coupon that I got yesterday. It was for a new product, called “Spam lite.”

B: What do they leave out…to make Spam lite?

T: I don’t know…the snout?

That’s how easy it is, and how little time it takes, to serve up something that the listener will REMEMBER. (On the air, even with the station’s name, artist, song title, and the team’s name leading off the break, this took only about 20 seconds. But it’s never really about length. It’s about IMPACT.)

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #303 – Doing the Wrong Thing Well

Believe it or not, there are some instances when a really good talent will foul the ball off his own shin. It happens to baseball players, and it most assuredly happens to air talent.

Case in point, recently a wonderful talent spent time (a setup, followed by two phone calls) setting up a little factoid about how we really only use about 13% of the things we learned in school.

Right at the outset, there are several things wrong with this:

  1. It’s not particularly timely, which means it’s largely irrelevant, because it’s not top-of-mind TODAY. (Where does this rank on the list of the things that are most important to your listener today, 150th? 250th?)
  2. It relies on using a percentage, which automatically makes it sound “left-brain” driven, as opposed to something more “right-brain” and visual and creative, and…
  3. Trying to get phone call response will inevitably lead to one decent reaction or story. Any call that follows will basically be just the same story with a different example.

I call this “doing the wrong thing well.” It sounded “professional”, and it got some reaction from the listeners (although it was limited). But literally anyone on any station could have done it, so it doesn’t really give you any way to stand out, or to offer something unique. So while it “ticks all the boxes” for filling some time, it’s not really very compelling.

As I told this talent in a coaching session afterwards, instead of doing the wrong thing well, let’s do the RIGHT thing really well. By “right thing”, I mean something that the listener is already thinking about – something top of mind that you can share a perspective on. Only then can you pique interest and reveal something about yourself in a compelling and unique way.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #300 – Two Segments, Max

Here’s a short, but really powerful tip.

Give a subject two segments (in Talk radio), MAX. If it doesn’t “catch fire” by then, give up and move along to something else.

The same principle is true in Music Radio – give a subject two tries, and if there’s no usable reaction, punt. If it hasn’t “happened” by then, you’re just firing bullets into a dead body. This is both boring and desperate-sounding.

This is why I always over-prepped each day. Just having “enough” to cover a show might not actually BE enough on a given day. And as you know, it’s impossible to predict when something might inexplicably fail to connect with the listener. (Although, now that I think about it, this could simply be because there’s not an Emotion at its core. Might want to think about that, too.)

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2019 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.