All posts by Tommy Kramer

Tommy has spent over 35 years as an air talent, programmer, operations manager and talent coach - working with over 300 stations in all formats. He publishes the Coaching Tip

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #284 – The Barbecue Test

One of the biggest challenges these days (as always) is Content.

There are lots of questions that help you put it together – Is this top of mind?  Does the listener actually care about it?  Do you have anything to offer on this subject that’s unique, and not just what everyone else will do?  Where are you going with it?  Is there a chance that it could lead to listener feedback, or is just a one-off thing? … etc.

But these leave out what I consider to be the most logical question to ask yourself:  Is this something you’d say at a barbecue to a person you just met?

If not, why are you saying it?

This will not only quickly cut to the chase as to whether it’s valid Content or not, it will also (hopefully) shape the LANGUAGE that you use, how you get to it, how you edit it, and most importantly, keep you from sounding like a disc jockey and more like a real person.

No one is enjoying hearing people read crap off a computer screen or someone’s stupid Facebook post on the air.  Dig deeper if you want to be great.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #283 – EARNING More than Thirty Seconds

This is a follow-up to the “Less is More, and More is Too Much” tip from a couple of weeks ago…

Thirty seconds is a significant amount of time.  Companies literally pay millions of dollars for ONE 30-second ad in the Super Bowl.

The latest research is showing that millions of Gen Xers and Millennials go to You Tube to see a video, and if doesn’t have a “Skip this ad” thing after just a few seconds, they won’t stick around to watch it at all.  That’s the mentality we’re dealing with.

You owe it to the listener not to waste his or her time.  You owe it yourself as a performer to develop the skill set of refining and editing what you do so you don’t waste words, repeat things, or take unnecessary “side roads.”  Sixty seconds is a LONG time, and two minutes is an eternity.

Yes, of course, an occasional longer break is fine, but automatically thinking “you have two minutes” (or more) is wrong.  You don’t… unless you EARN it.  You want more TSL?  Try not being tedious to listen to.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #281 – Less is More, and More is Too Much

Note: This is a music radio tip, primarily.  However, there is an application to Talk radio that I’ll do in another tip someday.

It’s a terrible thing to say, but honestly, I’ll bet 90% of the breaks I hear are too long.  Sometimes just a word or two too long.  Sometimes an entire paragraph too long.  In severe cases, an entire additional Subject too long.

Who has time?

Continue reading

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #280 – What You’d Say to Your Best Friend

The old saying is “Content is King.”  And there’s no doubt that Content HAS to be relevant and memorable to make people want to listen to you more today, or again tomorrow.

But Content isn’t “King,” PERFORMANCE is.  If you sound like a game show host, or have that “disc jockey delivery,” you’re becoming a Deejaysaurus Rex, an extinct species.

Continue reading

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #279 – The Social/Digital Agenda, and What Really Works

The Social Media/Digital Content tidal wave.  It seems like the entire radio world seems to be dwelling on this now, but frankly, without a lot of progress.  There’s a lot of activity, but not much in the way of results.

Here’s why: Facebook (and all social media) is what people do to kill time; but radio is what people use as a companion while they’re actually DOING something.  (And for purposes of this discussion, let’s not even talk about podcasts.  Their rate of success is minimal, and they’re not even going to begin being monetized to any successful degree for another decade.)

But here’s what DOES work, in my opinion: SHOW ME MORE THAN WHAT I HEARD (on the air).

Continue reading

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #278 – What you can learn about Radio from the NFL

The National Football League may not be what you’d think of in designing a great radio station – but it’s an excellent example of what CAN happen.

The “old” NFL was grind-it-out, three yards and a cloud of dust, run the ball most of the time, pass when you had to, cautious. In a word, BORING.

The new NFL is “let it fly” quarterbacks who’ll throw in ANY down-and-distance situation, “go for the ball” defensive backs, “sack the quarterback” pass rushing linemen, trick plays.  Pinball-fast pace.

So which description fits your station?

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #276 – The 2 Most Important Content Guidelines

In a coaching session this week, it occurred to me that most talents today might not have been as fortunate as I was in terms of who influenced them.  The names might not mean much to you, but I started off working for a wonderful P. D. named Larry Ryan in Shreveport, my home town, whose mantra was “Do something!  Any idiot can intro songs.”  That gave me permission to try – and equally important – permission to fail.

Then I worked for radio pioneer Gordon McLendon (who, with Todd Storz, INVENTED Top 40).  Gordon was all about Creativity, too, and P. D. Michael Spears taught me tight, concise formatics to harness that creativity.

Continue reading

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #275 — You’ll Use Everything You’ve Ever Known – IF…

There’s a famous story that David Letterman tells about Johnny Carson.  One night on The Tonight Show, fairly early in his career, the young Letterman was a guest.  And he and Carson got on one of those rolls where everything each of them said was funnier than the last thing.  The audience was in stitches laughing at each line, and finally Carson broke into the “patter” he had used as a magician when he was young – the absurdity of which resulted in uproarious laughter that led perfectly into a commercial break.

During the break, with the set darkened, Carson, who was a mentor to Dave, leaned over and said, “You’ll use everything you’ve ever known.”

Truly great air talents know this, and it’s a really interesting parameter to work on as a coach.  But the key is IF you can figure out exactly what the “fuse” is to light that “nugget” up.

Often, I see air talents with a good concept, but no idea of how it might work.  Using something just because you have that bullet in the chamber doesn’t mean that you can just fire it indiscriminately.

Think “What would facilitate this?”  Because it has to make sense in the flow of the conversation, or it’ll sound awkward.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #274 – Everybody Cares

Over decades of radio, including working with literally hundreds of stations in all different formats, I’ve found that there’s one thing every truly great station has, and the ones that aren’t great don’t have:  Everybody cares.

In a station where everybody cares, no sloppy Production is done (or left for someone else to do), attention to detail is a “given,” and bad or uncooperative attitudes are simply not tolerated.  You find high-profile, high-level talent, but no prima donnas.  Everyone is clear on what the Strategy of the station is, and that strategy is carried out on every level, from the person answering the phones to the General Manager.

That may sound pretty obvious, but if it’s so “obvious,” why don’t more stations have it?

Continue reading