Tommy Kramer Tip #126 – Splitting Sentences Up

You’ve heard this, and you’ve seen it done on TV commercials, too. One person starts a sentence, but then it’s split up as another person continues it.  I saw a TV spot where EVERY sentence was split up among several different people.

And I can’t count how many morning show promos have been done this way.

[1st voice] “Hi, I’m Snarf…”
[2nd voice] “and I’m Garfle…”
[1st voice] “from the Snarf and Garfle show…”
[2nd voice] “All this week, we’re giving away tickets”
1st voice] “in the alley next to the Keith Urban concert…”
[2nd voice] “you could be the winner…”
[1st voice] “and get mugged by a drug dealer!”

This is just editing gone crazy.

Give yourself permission to sound more plausible.  Don’t split sentences up.

In real life, when someone finishes the other person’s sentence, it’s either too “cutesy” or just downright annoying.

Plus, you destroy the rhythm of the copy when you do those half-thoughts.  It’s difficult to match the other person’s tempo and emotional vibe, so it ends up sounding choppy.

One person does the greeting. The other does the main message.  The first person then tags it.  Each completes his or her own sentence.  You get the same effect – an energetic read – without having to rush like your pants are on fire.

(And it sounds more real.)

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.



Frost Advisory #280 – Something Caught My Eye

“You won’t believe what’s in the paper!”, I called out to my wife in the other room.  There it was – on the front page, something that wouldn’t have caught my eye even a day before.


Relevance.  It’s the most important factor in communicating to your tribe.  If they don’t care, if it’s not in their sphere of interests you don’t have a chance of holding their attention because there is no common ground.

“Consumers don’t care about radio per se.  They care about content.  They care about relevance.  And they care about the brands they have grown to love.” Mark Ramsey

Relevance is the common ground on which relationships can grow. In essence, building relationships is what all successful radio stations do.

Consider having monthly brainstorming meetings with your air talent to talk about what’s RELEVANT in your listener’s life.  Yes, our format is about things that are timeless, such as dealing with adversity, forgiveness, nurturing relationships, and our journey of faith.

But there are also things that are relevant because they are today; like back to school, trips to grandma’s for Thanksgiving, and the release of Star Wars.

What is relevant because it always is? What is relevant because it is today?

Air talent that combine relevance (in general) with relevance that is today will be particularly ear-catching.

Oh, by the way, if you have a kid’s birthday party coming up I highly recommend Garden’s Mirasol Park.  We were there just yesterday for our nephew’s party.  It’s the first time I have seen a playground that has workout equipment for the parents.  How cool is that?

Maybe they’ll write about it in the newspaper!

Tommy Kramer Tip #125 – Don’t Lose Your Punch

George Carlin used to do a routine about how we’ve “softened” our language. How “shell shocked” morphed into “battle fatigue”, and then, over time, into “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” – or the even more nondescript PTSD, which makes that terrible condition sounds like it can be cured by taking a Midol.

In many ways, radio’s guilty of this, too. A tragedy happens, and all we hear is “Our hearts and prayers go out to them” instead of showing real concern. In today’s PC News, “alleged perpetrators” doesn’t sound the same as “the guy they think robbed the store,” and you’re doing someone a favor when you say he’s been accused of “spousal abuse” instead of beating up his wife.

Let’s lighten this up a bit:
Personally, I saw this coming a long time ago, when the first hard drug I ever had—sugar—became unacceptable to cereal manufacturers, and Sugar Crisp became the soft, lovingly castrated “Golden Crisp.”
GOLDEN CRISP? What the heck is that? Sounds like how French fries should come out…golden crisp. And the Sugar Bear, that lovable dispenser of this children’s version of heroin, became the Honey Bear or Golden Bear or something. No, wait…Jack Nicklaus was the Golden Bear. Oh well, that’s not the point.

But this is: Don’t get so generic or politically correct in your language (or your format or your subject matter) that you lose your PUNCH. Smooth peanut butter may sell more, but it feels better to eat a glob of CHUNKY.

Have some GUTS. (Not “intestinal fortitude.”)
Show some SPUNK. (Not some “spirit.”)
And by the way, Mother Goose, Jack did NOT fall down and break his “crown.” He CLONKED his head on a big ROCK, and now he’s bleeding like a stuck pig.

Your language should convey EMOTION. Generic language makes you seem like you don’t have any.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Frost Advisory #279 – Superman, Kryptonite, and Your Radio Station

So, what’s the deal with Kryptonite? (Even my spell checker knows what it is.)  The Complete Deluxe Unabridged Marvel Comics Dictionary (yes! I have one!) says, “Kryptonite is the name given to shards of matter cast off from the planet Krypton after its destruction.”

Jeepers! This is going to be one high-falootin’ Frost Advisory, alright!

Have you ever noticed that superheroes aren’t perfect? Superman has Kryptonite, and Batman is really just Bruce Wayne who really can’t fly and has no super powers.  What’s the deal with that?

Every superhero has a flaw.  Every major character on a TV show has an imperfection. (Think Kramer entering a room, Barney and his bullet, and Gilligan’s incompetence).  And yet, we somehow insist that talent on Christian radio be perfect.  Holy Façade, Batman!

That’s what’s wrong with talent on Christian radio?


We don’t trust perfection because we all know perfection is a facade. If none other than Superman, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, has imperfections why shouldn’t we?

Your listeners want real.

I once worked at a radio station that started to get complaints about the way the lady on the morning show laughed.  It was a distinctive and, if I may say so myself, rather loud laugh. She couldn’t help it.  That was just HER laugh.

Faced with that situation I’m sure that many programmers or managers would tell her, “Stop laughing! We’re getting complaints!”

Instead my bosses did the opposite! They created tee shirts with the caption, “I laughed with Toni in the morning!”  She became a star, and much beloved because she was REAL!  She had a tribe!

As you develop the talent on your station find the Kryptonite, the chink in the armor, the thing that makes them human, and build upon it.

Then, be real.


And if influence is what your radio station is ultimately about, being real can lead to trust.

“We resist being influenced by people we don’t know or don’t trust.  We are open to the influence of those whom we trust or whom we perceive have our best interests at heart.  Trust requires common ground.  Trust requires empathy.” Andy Stanley

Tommy Kramer Tip #124 – You’re A Role Model… Whether You Want To Be Or Not

Just the other day, I heard from a young man who said he does a Talk show, and wanted some coaching. He described his show as “focusing on politics, current events, and whatever else comes out of my head, with my main influences being Imus, Limbaugh, Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, Wolfman Jack, etc.”

I felt like I was on the old TV show “Lost in Space”, with the robot saying “Danger, Will Robinson!” First of all, that’s a pretty diverse list of influences. Wolfman Jack? I loved the Wolfman, but for a talk show host? That’s like wanting your hair to look like Moe of the 3 Stooges.

Anyway, as with every inquiry, I asked him to send an aircheck, so I could see where he was in his skillset and then determine if I could help him. (I don’t take on clients just because they want to pay me. I live for making radio great.)

Turns out, he was a college kid, working on a college station—which, of course, was horrible. (No repercussions, meaning ratings = no learning.) And his show was just disjointed rants, screaming at the listener to make his points, and pretending to talk to (read that “lecture”) political candidates like Hillary Clinton in this case (who, of course, is not listening to you).

However, I really couldn’t blame him. He was just parroting back his version of his role models, without really understanding that (1) just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you, and (2) those influences may not even be valid in today’s hummingbird-attention-span era.

I did try to help him, giving him a free coaching session, but the operative part of this is realizing that you are a role model, whether you want to be or not. Someone is listening to you, then trying to imitate you, as a first step toward finding himself.

So today, ask yourself “Am I a good role model?” I’ll tell you right now the biggest single factor in becoming one: don’t sit on your can thinking you’ve got it down and you don’t really have anything left to learn or to prove. Because the last thing you should ever want is to be cited as a role model for someone who doesn’t sound good.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Frost Advisory #278 – October 21, 2015 and Your Radio Station

A once obscure and meaningless reference in a movie sequel has spurred tee shirt sales, conspiracy theories, and a seize-the-moment marketing campaign by Pepsi.

How can you get people to willingly pay $20.15 for a bottle of pop?  Simply connect the mythical date Marty McFly arrived in the future to the mythical soda Pepsi Perfect.

This marketing campaign is fueled by a real psychological phenomena called Baader-Meinhof, which states that whatever you notice grows in importance.

“It’s caused by two psychological processes. The first, selective attention, kicks in when you’re struck by a new word, thing, or idea; after that, you unconsciously keep an eye out for it, and as a result find it surprisingly often.  The second process, confirmation bias, reassures you that each sighting is further proof of your impression that the thing has gained overnight omnipresence.”  Pacific Standard

You’re shopping for a red convertible with leopardskin seat covers and you begin to see them everywhere.   You want a tattoo of the Donald on your trump and you begin to notice tattoo parlors on every street corner on Palm Beach.


In my journeys I regularly overhear conversations at radio stations about things we deem important simply because we notice them.  We then invest attention and they become more important still.  I could list some of them here but you’d call me a liar and say rude things about me.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”  Albert Einstein

Tommy Kramer Tip #123 – Nonverbal Communication is Very LOUD

It’s one of the basic tenets of acting: you have to LISTEN well. There are many reasons for it:

No matter how much you’ve rehearsed something, the other person in the scene may forget a line, or feed you a line that was supposed to come later (or earlier). Unless you’re paying attention, there’s this awful, pregnant moment when panic or shock hits you—and believe me, everyone in the audience knows it.

I’ve coached somewhere around 350 team shows and dozens of Talk shows that are caller-driven or guest driven, and it’s amazing how many times I’ve heard a host or partner that’s simply not paying attention. I’ve had to remind people that should know better not to text while they’re on the air, to take their eyes off the computer screen, and instead of only thinking about what your next comment will be, actually listen to what’s being said on the air.

After all, if you’re not paying attention to what your partner, a guest, or a caller is saying, why should the listener? Non-verbal communication is very loud. And people FEEL at least as much as they hear.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Frost Advisory #277 – Good Grief! Charlie Brown and Your Radio Station

They could have just advertised the movie. The equivalent of “here’s what it’s about, give us your money, go to the theaters!” Our radio stations do that all the time!

Instead, gave us a way to put ourselves in the movie.


As we try to come up with ideas about how to get our listeners to do what we want them to do, perhaps we can learn a thing or two from this campaign. “Create a character” isn’t about the movie. It’s about YOU!

Roy Williams says, “We buy what we buy to remind ourselves – and tell the world around us – who we are… We’re attracted to reflections of ourselves.”

Thousands of these cartoons will be posted on line or sent to friends and not once was anyone asked to promote the movie. And yet they did.

“It’s not what a product does that matters to us so much, it’s how we socialize around it that matters.” Hugh MacLeod

Tommy Kramer Tip #122 – Say My Name, Say My Name

Time for a little “basics” check.  How good are you at saying the name of the station?  There are a lot of different factors that play into this supposedly simple thing…

First of all, you should say them first – the first thing out of your mouth when you start a break.  Not just “somewhere in there.”  There’s a reason the Jif label is on the outside of the jar.  They don’t put it inside with the peanut butter.

When you say “That’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ by Ed Sheeran on 92.9 KSLL” that’s about Ed Sheeran, who’s on 1200 stations, one of which happens to be yours.

But when you say “92.9 KSLL and Ed Sheeran with ‘Thinking Out Loud,'” it’s YOUR song. You own it, and that’s the kind of music that YOU play.

Ownership MATTERS.

Yes, I’ve heard PD’s say “but it sounds more conversational to just drop them in at random.” But branding isn’t about being “conversational”. It’s about branding.  (Which, by the way, is why you shouldn’t just segue two songs back-to-back without a short produced piece or a jingle between them that gives your name.   You’re just throwing away a branding opportunity.  PPM will never measure someone who doesn’t tune you in a second time because they don’t remember who you are.)

But let’s move on to the performance itself – the art of saying the station’s name. Here are just a few of the techniques I coach:

1.  As a voice actor, you have to be able to deliver it in multiple ways, with several different inflections and variations in timing.  It’s easy to just toss the name out like a robot, which always sounds like you’re just trying to get it done with so you can get on to the more “important” stuff.  (I’ve actually edited together every time a talent says the station’s name in an hour so he or she could hear the bad habits that have set in – same tone of voice every time, same inflection, always going down in pitch at the end – there are tons of them.)

2.  Matching the pace of the song.  (Fast song, uptempo delivery. Slow song, slower delivery.)

3.  Matching the emotional “vibe” of the song.  (Sad song, more somber tone. Happy song, more upbeat delivery.)

4.  Starting on the same NOTE the song is on.  (The great Marice Tobias also teaches this.)

…and there’s more, but in John Lennon’s words, “I have to have money first.”

Suffice it to say that unless you’re good at saying the name of the station – the first thing you should master – chances are that people won’t remember you, and ratings won’t be as high as they could be.  I’ve seen Arbitron entries for stations that don’t exist anymore, and air talents that have been DEAD for two years. That’s the power of good branding.

– – – – – – –
Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.