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 #380 – A Tip from Acting Teacher Roy London

If you’ve worked with me or read any significant amount of my stuff, you know that a lot of what I coach comes from the acting world.  Although he only lived to be 50 years old, Roy London has been a heavy influence on me.

A fine actor himself, over the last fifteen years of his life, Mr. London became one of the premier acting teachers in Hollywood, a profound influence on the likes of Sharon Stone, Jeff Goldblum, Hank Azaria, Geena Davis, and Garry Shandling, just to name a few.

One of London’s main tenets is “It’s all about Love.  Every choice comes from trying to connect with Love.”

Man, that is spot-on.  While some radio talents have had success being negative and snarky, the ones that most people hold dear are the ones who are consciously trying to connect on a human level.  And Love is the highest of human values. Continue reading

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #379 – Why Your Slogan Can Mess Up the Air Talent

My brilliant friend and associate John Frost recently heard a station that used the slogan “We Actually Care.”

These people are obviously… well, stupid.  As a coach, this concerns me because the air talent that has to live UP to what the station says about itself is virtually crippled by it.

First of all, the only possible inference of that phrase is that they’re better than the stations that DON’T “actually” care.  (But I’m not familiar with any station that has “We Actually Don’t Care” as their slogan.) Continue reading

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #378 – The Boulder in the Lobby

If you listen to the air staff, way too many stations nowadays have what I call “a boulder in the lobby.”

“The PD has no power, so we can’t do things we want to do.”
“The wrong people DO have power, so the best ideas can’t even get heard.”
“The GM is just a Sales Guy, and doesn’t understand Programming.”
“The new owner is just a financial guy, and doesn’t know anything about radio.”

In one station I worked at, a person they hired to fill a key position lived on a houseboat, and bathed in a lake.  He always smelled like catfish dung.  It got so bad that several coworkers left various deodorants on his DESK, and many complained to the boss – who did nothing about it.  Slowly but surely, people left the station.  I know that sounds kind of gross, but it happened.

So here’s the deal: as a Talent, when you come into the station every day, you have a decision to make.  You can walk around whatever the “boulder” is and give it your best effort to do radio that’s worth listening to.  Or you can go work somewhere else.

What you should NOT do is stick around, but have a grousing or negative attitude.

New York Yankee great Joe DiMaggio, in his last season, once ran hard on painful bone spurs to make a difficult catch.  Mickey Mantle (who was in right field as a rookie) told Joe that he needn’t have done it because Mickey had it in his sights.  But DiMaggio answered, “There’s always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time; I owe him my best.”

So do you.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #377 – The Film Editor’s Eye

In the movie world, a lot rests on the Film Editor’s “eye.”

“Errors of continuity” – like a shirt tucked in one moment, then untucked in the next shot, then a moment later it’s tucked in again – can ruin the film.  The Editor is always on the lookout for things that, somewhere in the brain, just don’t “add up.”  Those little things destroy credibility.

I hear the same type of things all the time in radio, but of course, they’re spoken rather than pictured.  For example:

An air talent refers to something that I wouldn’t have a clue about unless I was listening 15 minutes ago.

Or a jock goes to a contestant or a caller and says “Hi, Marsha…”  How did you already know her name?  Not logical.

The jock says “Jennifer tripped over it…”  Who’s Jennifer?  Your wife?  Your daughter?  Your dog?

Keep in mind that my timeline (as a listener) isn’t the same as yours.  Don’t assume that I know what you’re referencing.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #376 – Be a Part OF the Music

What really works in any field isn’t much about finding something completely new as it is about finding a way to build on something old, but making it better.  We’ve had phones forever, for instance.  But the Blackberry, then the iPhone, changed what we can do with them – and what we now EXPECT from them.

The point is, there’s a tendency to categorically reject “old” ideas, and that’s often the biggest mistake.  Radio is making one now.  With all the technology we have available, and all the “sabermetric” data we now use, we’ve largely lost one thing that used to be the core of every great station – the connection to the music we play.  Simply put, I rarely hear a station anymore that respects the music at ALL. Continue reading