Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #421: Proximity, and what it Means for you

It’s probably only natural to not want to be coached.  But the air talents I’ve encountered who feel that way (at first) are usually the ones who just don’t see past trying to be funny, or think that “trending” in social media is a goal.  (It’s not.  Connecting with the Listener is.)  And those things will come as a byproduct of your skills improving.

I’ve always seen coaching – at least the way I do it – as being like an acting coach working with actors, and most of the things I teach come from an acting or writing background, in addition to decades of radio experience.  We start with the radio stuff – how to do the “basics” (giving the station’s name, artist info, time, etc.), then, when that’s really solid and varied, it’s all about the Art. Continue reading

Frost Advisory #567 – We Grade On The Curve, And That’s Too Bad

Our currency is TIME. We measure time, we sell time. Some of us veterans remember when we “back-timed.” We covet TIME SPENT LISTENING.

We also WASTE time.

In PPM lingo time is called “listening occasions.” There are numerous things about PPM we can’t control (most importantly who wears a meter), but we can hopefully minimize missed opportunities to create listening occasions.

But we tend to grade on the curve when we say…

It’s not all THAT bad.

It probably won’t hurt us.

Nobody will notice.

Not many people are listening on the weekend/nights/overnights/holidays.

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Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #420: Keep on Sharing

What you bring to the table besides your voice and the ability to read things off a computer screen is what decides whether people actually listen to you or not. Here’s a tip taken from a recent coaching session recap:

Keep on sharing. What you have in common with the listener is what brings her/him a step closer. Always bringing the listener closer makes the station a star, and each Personality a star.

The rest of the time, it’s just about being a good ambassador for the station, and being a good voice actor.

Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #419: Start with the Name, then Add

Better voice acting is always part of the quest, and that starts with how you say the station’s name.

On my stations, we put it first (the first thing out of your mouth) for a reason, like the Jif label on the outside of the jar.  So it’s important that you have an “I like peanut butter” sound.  With that thought in mind, then all you have to do in MusicRadio is simply match the tempo and emotional ‘vibe’ of the song, and you’ll be right in the pocket… a part of – and logical extension of – the music, instead of interrupting it to sell something.

From there, you just continue with whatever the Content is.  But you’re already more “ear-friendly” from this one technique.

Note: I believe in the name of the station first in all formats.  Not every market has PPM.  If you’re a diary market, it’s important to get CREDIT for what you do.  So plant that seed.

Frost Advisory #565 – Sitting Next To Warren

At church yesterday I sat next to Warren. Warren is 50 years old and had never been to our church. In fact, Warren had never been to church.

I learned that Warren is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic and now has sclerosis of the liver. He was sitting next to his mother Maggie who had prayed for him for many, many years. Maggie held Warren’s hand like I imagined she did when he was a little boy.

Sitting next to Warren gave me a fresh perspective of a place so very familiar to me for sixteen years. I am on the inside getting a glimpse of what it looks like from the outside.

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Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #418: Composition!

With the emphasis put on storytelling nowadays, a lot of air talent is left in the dark, with no real coaching on HOW to become better at it.  COMPOSITION is the missing skill a lot of the time.  So here are three guidelines that I coach:

  1. As you prep the break (or podcast), pay attention to what needs to be left OUT.  Most C-level stories have too many “scenes,” too many names, or too many plot points that really aren’t necessary.  Weed them out.
  2. Endings are the second-most pressing need for improved storytelling.  Avoid trying to “tie a neat bow around it” at the end.  “Aesop’s Fable” endings are fine for children, but can sound sappy or redundant to most people.  You’ll stand out more by NOT doing this.  The same goes for the “self-help book” type of ending.  Ick.  Knock off the moralizing, please.  And the ending should always be something that WASN’T said earlier in the break.  Surprise me.
  3. The first place where something unexpected is said is probably going to be the best ‘exit.’  Taking the First Exit is surprising in itself, because most people drive right past it.

Hope this helps you.

Frost Advisory #564 – Daddy, Tell Me A Story

My daddy was a great story teller. Family gatherings almost always ended up in the living room with one of us kids begging, “Dad, tell the one about…” He loved family history and those stories shared over the decades among aunts, uncles, cousins and grandchildren helped us to realize how we are all connected and a part of the same story. Dad also said with a twinkle in his eye, “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story,” so we knew we had to pay attention in case something about the story had changed!

No one in our format seems to openly doubt the power of a story, but I’m surprised how few talent tell stories on the air… much less do it well. It seems that we give lip service to story and then go about our business sharing data or talking about something on Facebook, the ultimate lazy man’s show prep.

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Tommy Kramer Coaching Tip #417: A Basic Storytelling Kit

This came up in a music radio session the other day with a morning team . Here’s an excerpt from their recap…

A key to the telling of any story is to think about how it unfolds.  Just “winging it” is what real people do, but that’s not what sets apart air personalities and storytellers.  You want to be constantly pointing forward, moving forward, to the next thing – that “reveal” that advances the story.

Example: You started the second News story with “…and alligators do not make good teammates…” followed by “(City) FC is based in Orlando, Florida this year, and during Monday’s practice the team got a surprise…” Continue reading