Category Archives: Tommy Kramer Tip

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #409: A Lesson in Greatness – Robert W. Walker

Radio used to be populated by “big” voices, guys with a cannonlike delivery who ANNOUNCED or PRESENTED things.

But then it changed, and one of the best examples of how is my friend Robert W. Walker.  Rob didn’t have a huge voice, but it was an ultra-easy-to-listen-to voice.  He wasn’t “jokey” funny, but his insights (especially when he made himself the butt of the joke) were often hilarious.  He pulled you in toward him.  It seemed intimate, one-on-one.

He also was a brilliant writer and Production talent.  Some of his station promos raised chill bumps when you heard them.

But I would classify his main talent as something that sounds very simple: People just LIKED him.  He was what everyone in radio thinks they could sound like, but not that many actually can.

I think there are two main things to learn from Rob:

  1. Never underestimate being likable.
  2. Never think about your voice.  Just be you.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #408: The Opposite

Sometimes, something 180 degrees away is what works best.  You can’t do it all the time, but it’s one of the first things that I consider.  Here are three examples.

  1. The opposite of what anyone would think: Homer Simpson, “If Jesus had a gun, he’d be alive today.” (I thought I’d fall off the couch when I heard that.)
  2. Wally, on Contemporary Christian Music network WAY-FM: instead of automatically playing an artist’s songs when he’d have that artist on as a guest, he’d do “Win it to Spin it,” meaning that the artist had to do some challenge in less time than Wally did it in order to get his/her song played.  One I remember was when he had a singer form a pyramid of Spam “cakes” – without using his HANDS!  (The guy had to stack them up into a pyramid with his MOUTH.  Ewww!  Hilarious on the air, and as a YouTube video.)
  3. Once when I was on the air, my boss wanted me to do an all-request hour every Friday night.  After doing it the “plain vanilla” way a couple of times, I went in exactly the opposite direction, saying “This is an all-request hour, but I’M doing all the requesting.”  Totally unexpected, I had more people call in when they COULDN’T make a request than when they could.  (A couple of weeks later, when I got a novelty album with 20 different versions of the song “Louie Louie,” I started the hour with “You can request any song you want… as long as it’s ‘Louie Louie.'”  Believe me, there’s nothing funnier than hearing an “anthem” song done in Mariachi band style, or as a waltz… or hearing the same song requested for an entire hour.)

Try the Opposite once in a while.  It opens up brand new roads.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #407: The Rule Of Three Is Now The Rule Of Two

The old comedy axiom is that the 3rd time gets the biggest laugh: watch any old sitcom or comedy movie and you see it over and over.  Something gets a laugh.  A few minutes later, it gets repeated, and gets another laugh.  Finally, much later, there’s a “call-back” and it gets said again, and that’s the “big” laugh.  That’s the Rule of Three.

But now, that’s outdated.  Everyone’s attention span is shorter now.  The Rule of Three doesn’t apply anymore.  Now it’s just 1, 2 instead of 1, 2, 3.  To sound like TODAY, you need to shorten that rhythm of yesterday.  If you do it a third time now, it usually just sounds like you’re trying too hard.  (Or maybe it doesn’t even make sense, because Time Spent Listening is so much shorter now.)

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #406: A Lesson from Alex Trebek

Watching ‘Jeopardy’ these days is strange for the millions of people of all ages who grew up watching Alex Trebek emcee the show.  First, Ken Jennings, the greatest contestant of all time, hosted.  Then the Producer of the show, Mike Richards, came in with his “Don Draper” looks and professionalism.  Then Katie Couric, enthusiastic, but…

While we know a little about Jennings and a lot about Couric (but in another setting), we knew a lot more about Alex.  He loved travel, his pride in Canada was cute, and just the WAY he conducted the show spoke volumes about his respect for what could have been just another Game Show.

Continue reading