Category Archives: Tommy Kramer Tip

Tommy Kramer Tip #71 – Radio Tourette Syndrome

Thoroughness – a valuable quality in almost every job – is actually not the best thing for radio. Trying to do every thing every time is almost a disease. Let’s call it Radio Tourette Syndrome.

For example, the giving of three surrounding cities’ temperatures, then “and in downtown Candyland, it’s 82” to close the weather forecast. As a listener, I only care about MY area. You’d be better off with one satellite city mention, then the main one. Rotate the surrounding cities one at a time, and you get rid of the “laundry list” thing that other stations do. It doesn’t take long for the listener to at least subconsciously notice that you’re not still rattling out more numbers.

It’s the same with everything, really…

Giving the Artist and Title every time gets old. We’re friends and entertainers, not musicologists.

Giving every possible facet of a contest every time you talk about it just makes you sound like either (1) you can’t shut up, or (2) someone is holding a gun to your head making you do it.

Oh, and that ‘deejay thing’ of purposely “hitting the post” (talking right up to the start of the vocal) every time just makes people want to duct tape your mouth shut after a while. (And it makes Pandora look really good.)

The real point is that trying to be too “thorough” is the enemy of editing. What you gain in Information you lose in Momentum. Take that thought and run with it in every phase of your station possible.

Tommy Kramer Tip #70 – What Great Radio Does Right  

It’s all too easy when you write as many tips as I do to dwell on seeming negatives or weaknesses. But that’s not the purpose of coaching. Yes, you want to shore up a weak foundation. But after that, the main job is to find what a talent does best and push those qualities into the spotlight.

Then there’s getting consistent – really consistent, where it’s impossible to have a bad day.

And the final level is “How high can we fly?” It’s all about what you can keep coming up with that’s fresh and new, and sets you apart from everyone else in a way that’s almost like waiting for the next new album your favorite band will come up with.

Here’s what great radio does. It gives you what you expect, but with surprises built in. It’s consistent, but not predictable. In every market, there are a couple of stations that get this, and they rule the roost. A bad book can’t bring them down, their Promotions never fail, and the listener always has a sense of “I wonder what they’ll do next?”

That can be your station. If you don’t have one, get a great Consultant; not just someone off a list, but someone who’s helped other stations that you admire reach a very high level of performance. If you have the money, hire a Talent Coach. It’s easy to think you don’t really need one, but name a major league baseball team without a batting coach. (Or ask Tom Brady or Peyton Manning about their quarterback coaches.) With a good coach – not someone who controls your job, but a real coach – you’ll find that the process is so dear and so revealing that you don’t want to go it alone.

Then work every single time the mic opens to welcome in the person who’s just hearing you for the first time, and to sound natural, like a friend talking to a friend, instead of making ‘announcements’ and ‘presentations’. THAT’S what great radio does right.

Tommy Kramer Tip #69 – Pandering

I hear a lot of pandering to the audience lately.

Here are a couple of examples:

“Here’s the forecast for your Tuesday…” (It’s not “my” Tuesday. It doesn’t belong to anyone. Remember, the Weather app on my iPhone can give me the weather, and has a map of what’s going on right above my house.)

This one came from a morning show – a bumper that said “Call your show now…” (It’s not MY show. And if it were, I’d want that sidekick fired that still thinks “That’s what SHE said” is funny.)

There are lots of others, each more tedious than the next. There’s a word for this. It’s obsequious. It means “fawning” – slathering someone with phony-baloney praise. (Street meaning: kissing butt.)

Just be real. No one believes this horse hockey. Take it off your station now.

If you want to have a conversation with an adult, treat ’em like an adult.

If you want to have a conversation with a teenager, treat ’em like an adult.

Tommy Kramer Tip #68 – The Meat Section

Ah, another morning of listening to a team show. Waiting for the ‘biggie’ – a break in their biggest hour, when they have the most cume. Here it comes. Will it be the two of them weighing in on something everybody is talking about today? Will it be something really inventive, that only they would do?

The song ends, I turn up the volume, and hear… “Things that are supposed to be bad for you, but really aren’t.”

“Filler” material, total B-grade stuff. At best, just mildly interesting. Certainly not compelling. It wasn’t top of mind, it didn’t say anything unique about the show or the station, and there was no local tie-in.

So why do it?

When you “shop” for Content, stay in the meat section, not the tofu aisle. As a listener, if I don’t care about what you’re talking about, it’s easy for me to just not listen.

The less generic you get, the more definable you get. There’s a huge difference between asking someone to go see a spy movie, or asking them to go see a James Bond movie. I don’t care about a nameless, faceless spy, but if it’s a new Bond movie, let’s go early so I can get a hot dog and some popcorn.

Tommy Kramer Tip #67 – Bumpers: Why?

In the continuing battle to get more “right brain” elements into radio stations, I recently had a client station that was still playing “bumpers” – those things that would end a break by the morning team with a bumper (what some people call a “punctuator”) like “Shaker and Blotto…on 102.5 The Rock” into the commercial stopsets.

Bumpers were a bad idea when they first came on the scene a couple of decades ago, and one of the main uses for them was in syndicated shows. The thinking was that you had to remind the listener (who apparently must be an idiot to most programmers) what the name of the show was, and/or what the name of the station was. But in the real world – the listener’s world – he hears the show’s name or the station’s name, then a commercial. So guess what image is carried forward? You = commercials.

Plus, the bumper destroys the First Exit, the most powerful radio technique I’ve ever come up with, by literally stopping the momentum instead of moving forward seamlessly and having the spotbreak on you almost before you’re even aware of it. (If you’re unfamiliar with The First Exit, please see Tip #3 on my blog site.)

It’s easier to see how nonsensical this is if you visualize a real-life conversation. If we’re sitting over lunch talking and I make a good point, I don’t have an announcer come over to the table and say “Tommy Kramer!” after it. That would be very weird.

This is just another one of those old radio things that sounds Strategic in the planning stage, but is actually an incomplete thought. If you’re good, identify yourself regularly when it’s appropriate to do so, and have true Momentum, people will learn and remember who you are and where they heard it. Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory don’t use bumpers into commercials, so why should we?

Momentum trumps everything else. Period. Bumpers are an impediment to momentum. No amount of so-called “branding” can overcome that. While radio people see promos, bumpers, and commercials as different things, in the listener’s world, there are just two elements – Music, and things that aren’t music. To the listener, the bumper is just a commercial for you.

Oh, and let’s do away with the little movie and TV “drops”, too. They were great 20 years ago, but they’re not new anymore. I say just get into the spotbreak, and make everyone else sound like they have to quack their names out before they can move forward.