Category Archives: Tommy Kramer Tip

Tommy Kramer Tip #87 – Be Great by being Good

Sports great Dan Patrick told a story on the Golf Channel’s wonderful “Feherty” show about doing the Olympics a few years ago. Patrick had a wealth of experience, but it was his first shot at the Olympics, and to his surprise, he was very nervous about it. Much to his delight, he found that he’d be paired in the nightly updates with Al Michaels, the consummate pro who had effortlessly switched from play-by-play man to Newsman during the 1989 World Series when an earthquake hit San Francisco. Patrick shared his nervousness with Michaels, and Al told him, “Look, I know you want to be great at this. But just be good, and you’ll be great by being good.”

I hear jocks every week that sound like they’re trying so hard to be great that the pressure of it just melts them down. Just recently, I told someone struggling with this “Simply pull it back a little, and stop caring so much about how you’re being perceived. If it doesn’t sound like something you’d say to me over lunch together, it’s not going to connect anyway, so let go of trying to hit a home run every time the mike opens, and just hit a single.”

This is what’s wrong with baseball now, by the way. There are so many batters trying to hit a home run every time up, and while it might result in a few more homers and runs batted in, it also usually translates to a mediocre batting average and WAY too many strikeouts. If I could coach them, I’d say “Just hit 3,000 singles and you’ll make the Hall of Fame.”

The truth is that if you’re just trying to be really good every time the mike opens, ‘great’ will happen once in a while.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #86 – Learn To Breathe

One of the main differences between disc jockeys and voice actors is that a lot of disc jockeys don’t know how to breathe.

Every day, you hear jocks rushingthroughlinesasfastastheycanwithoutevertakingabreathatall…then HAVING to take a big, gasping breath because they didn’t pause where they should have paused.

A lot of this comes from Program Directors not making it a priority to sound conversational. Or it can be that what you’re supposed to read is just too much to say over a song intro or when you stop down. And as I dealt with in an earlier tip, it can be that your “internal clock” is lying to you, saying that you’re taking too long, so you start talking at ‘warp speed’ when you don’t really need to.

If you think about it, radio lends itself to being stationary, but talking fast. And radio Production tends to be cut sitting down at a console, often doing one line at a time.

But in the voice-acting world, many (if not most) talents stand up, and don’t wear headphones unless they have to sync up with something.

So take the first step. Beginning today, resolve to LET yourself pause (just slightly) between thoughts, so you recapture the natural rhythm of someone in real conversation, instead of the breathless, machine gun delivery of a disc jockey speaking with his “radio voice”.

The more real you sound, the better you’re going to be on the air, and the more opportunities you’ll have to do other things as your career moves forward.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #85 – Nobody wants to watch your home movies unless they’re IN them

My friend, mentor, partner, and harmony singer John Frost reminded me and a lot of other people the other day about a guideline from “The Wizard of Ads” – the brilliant Roy Williams: “People will be more interested in your home movies if they are in them.”

John illustrated this is in a very personal way, talking about the movie “Steel Magnolias” and how he always looked at with affection since it had been filmed in his hometown.

I had a similar experience, and still feel a tie to the old John Wayne movie “The Horse Soldiers.” It was shot near Natchitoches, Louisiana where my dad was working on the set. One day, he let me go out and watch, and I actually got to meet the great John Wayne, who shook my hand with his giant paw and said “Well, how ya doin’ there, little fella?” Honest to goodness, he sounded exactly like……John Wayne!

When you plug into people’s emotions and memories, the buy-in is immediate and strong.

So with apologies to Roy Williams, I’ve slightly changed his words to be: “Nobody wants to watch your home movies unless they’re in them.”

I don’t think this is just something to shoot for. I think it’s mandatory if you want anyone to listen to you.

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Tommy Kramer
Talent Coach
214-632-3090 (iPhone)
e-mail: coachtommykramer@gmail.com
Member, Texas Radio Hall of Fame
© 2015 by Tommy Kramer. All rights reserved.

Tommy Kramer Tip #84 – What you KNOW you have is NOW

Seems like everyone is hell-bent on recycling listeners right now -getting them to “make an appointment” for something later in the hour, later in the show, later in the day, or later in the week.

I’ve been in radio for decades, and worked intensely not just with air talents, but also with great consultants, Arbitron and PPM savants, and marketing experts, so of course I agree that repeated listening should be something to strive for.

But the flat tire on that recycling car is that you can’t make the listener do anything. If he or she is busy, distracted, unavailable, or just not interested, that listener isn’t going to come back when you want just because you want him to. I would estimate that probably 75% of the promos and live mentions I hear seem to be about what the radio station wants the listener to do, not about the listener’s life. You might as well just say “and at 7:50, we’d like you to come cook us breakfast and shine our shoes.”

The backbone of my coaching is that we always start with the listener, THEN work back to the Control Room. It’s not what we want to talk about; it’s focusing on what the listener wants to hear about.

So while having a good strategy for increased time spent listening – or more times spent listening – is certainly important, don’t forget to keep your eye on the ball.

Here’s what you know: What you have is NOW. This break. The old saying is that “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” For our purposes, I would rephrase that thought to “you might only get this break to make any impression at all.” For the listener, it’s like going to a restaurant for the first time. If you get bad service or the food isn’t good, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll come back and eat there again.

So make this break good – really good. No coasting – EVER. No “autopilot” breaks – ever. No breaks where you know how you’re going to start, but you have no clue how you’re going to end. (Note: I have techniques I can show you that make this easy.) Do a good job of informing or entertaining this break, and chances are the listener will give you another shot. Be boring or uninspired, and you don’t deserve another shot. And all the recycling attempts in the world won’t get the listener to come back.

Tommy Kramer Tip #83 – Your Internal Clock

Every day, I hear air talent trying to do Content that’s good, but the delivery is too hurried. Or jocks will try to cram too much into a song intro, and while it does fit the time frame, it doesn’t sound real or engaging because the inflection is lost. It’s not just in music radio, though. It happens in all formats, including Talk and Sports.

Obviously, bad training (or lack of training) can cause this, but there’s more to it than that.

Here’s one of the most overlooked factors:

Everyone has an internal clock. And often, your internal clock lies to you.

You can see this outside the radio world with a simple experiment: walk up to someone, put a microphone in front of him, and tell him that he has 30 seconds to speak. Some people will take their time, sounding very real and relaxed – but talk for 50 or 60 seconds; nowhere close to 30. Other people will rush as fast as they can, and even though they have 30 seconds, they’ll race to match their internal clock, then stop after 15 or 20, gasping for air.

Great voice actors learn what real time is, rather than perceived time. Tell my friend Beau Weaver, for instance, that you need a piece of copy to be read in 26 seconds, and he’ll nail it almost every time in the first take. But unless you’ve developed that uncanny timing that a great voice actor has, you’re going to have to work on it.

The cure is a simple one: rehearse. And rehearse OUT LOUD, because it always takes longer when you enunciate clearly and inflect words audibly instead of silently.

Start with real-life Content first (books, articles, etc.) and try to stop after 10 seconds, then 30, then 60. Then take that to what you do on the air. In a short time, the difference will be dramatic, and you’ll have more “command presence” as a result.

Plus, as with many things I coach, it’s like life after sex. Once you’ve done it, you can never go back to the perspective you had before it.