AudioGreat breaks achieve a positive strategic goal back to the show. They communicate, both in content and presentation, something about the show plot. Breaks which score are real, relevant, and fun. They earn you valuable images. Here are some breaks by Reynolds Group shows which achieve this.
The stickiest stuff you can do on your show is tell a story about yourself. Especially one with tension and drama. We connect by telling stories to each other. Stories define us and allow those listening to see themselves in you. Stylz and Roman, US 99, Chicago, tell great, relatable stories about themselves. Doug Stylz is an adult male (over 40, married, with a kid). Getting a tattoo should be no problem, right? Not to his conservative parents, who’ve always frowned on it. Listen as Doug becomes a kid again as he breaks the news to his parents (his father walks out of the house in disgust). Then a second break the day after where Justin, Doug’s on-air partner, calls his parents to smooth things over. This is very real, very relatable, and very much fun as the listeners identify with Doug’s dilemma and drama. This is the kind of storytelling and content that listeners define talent through and hold on to for a long time. Both breaks are below.
You will never go wrong tapping the vein of topical. Great radio shows are perishable in the sense that their topics and comedy must be about whatever is going on today. Mark and Neanderpaul, KSLX, Phoenix inserted themselves into the quick dismissal of White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci by putting together a parody about both him and his short stay, set to the tune of “That’s Amore”. When you grab a Hot Topic and do something very unique with it, with the intention making the the audience laugh, you win and you win big. In part because what you have can easily go viral on social media, but mostly because your audience is so entertained they can’t leave you.
Relationships content might be the most universal you can do. Everyone has relationships so it’s very relatable and connective. At Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5 The Arch, St. Louis, Spencer was complaining about the number of first dates he’s had that never became second dates. He wondered what he was doing wrong. So his partners, Cassiday and Brando, ventured to find out by setting him up on a series of dates. We know we needed a twist to hook the audience so we added two big elements to this idea. The first was to wrap it up with an on-air “focus group” of the women Spencer had dates with for honest feedback. We believed that act of vulnerability would humanize Spencer and vibe with the audience. We also decided we needed a certain type of woman to capture the imagination of the audience. In our brainstorm, we decided that one kind of woman who would be very open and unfiltered were women who’d been to prison. So we “cast” for ex-cons, adding the edge that helped this relationships idea cut through. Here’s a supportive break where the team asked a relationships expert how Spencer should handle himself on these dates.
We embarked on a community service project with Two Men and a Mom, MIX 101.5, Raleigh this past week. One of their yearly causes is Backpack Buddies, where they ask the audience to donate things for backpacks for underprivileged kids going back to school. Instead of the standard pitch, we decided to pit Team Men verses Team Mom to play off the name of the show. Part of that was to get local celebrities to call in and pledge to a team believing the guys would pledge to Team Men and the women would join Team Mom. The show scored an interview with the iconic Coach K from Duke, which is in the market. Here’s his interview. The entire goal is to build support for the day we gather the items, creating a fun and friendly competition in the process to help define the cast. You might be surprised at the team Coach K chose, showcasing his excellent sense of compassion and humor in the process.
Production values against quirky ideas make them stand out. Stacey K and Jonah at HOT 101.7, Santa Rosa, CA embarked on Taco Quest 2016 after Jonah admitted to the room he did not like tacos. Who doesn’t like tacos??? So, we went to find the market’s best tacos over the course of one week. Listeners gave suggestions, they went for lunch buying tacos for those who showed up, all in an effort to convert Jonah into a taco lover. There are a few things to point out in the structure of this short break: the taco jingle they use close to the top of the break sets the table for the silly that follows. Understanding that the audience responds to “visual cues”, they also include in the break a quick interview with the winner of the market’s best tacos as well as the audio they use just after, giving him the coveted ten tacos rating. When designing a break, having other elements inside keeps its energy level high and offers the audience opportunities to get reinvigorated if the conversation starts to drag. Breaks designed like this don’t feel as long as they are because of that.
Every show need a signature feature. Its defining moment. The one thing it does that forces audience to turn the show on because it’s habitual. You’re better off, as a strategy, if you do this feature more often. Which is why The Cruz Show, Power 106, Los Angeles, does R U Down, its version of the highly rated prank call, every hour on the tens. Shows tend to get very nervous airing a bit like this so often, but remember two important things: PPM is about occasions and occasions are usually tied to creating appointments. Also, listeners come to the show and stay for just a few minutes – so the tactic of doing a signature feature once an hour will rarely work against you if it’s that entertaining. The other thing to consider is to figure out your most unique, highly entertaining benchmark, and worry about burning it in, instead of being worried about burning it out. Build appointments in your show and you’ll tend to get more occasions – central to a winning recipe.
One easy way to spice up your show is to find fun “characters” to play a role in it. Not fake characters, but people in real life. This week’s audio comes from Sherman and Tingle, WDRV, Chicago. It proves two points when putting your program together: bold ancillary characters, who come and go as needed, add color to a show. Also, when telling a story, invite the people in the story to participate in telling it. They have a perspective and will add detail and emotion that you can’t because they were in the middle of it. Tingle and his sister have parents who are huge Doobie Brothers fans. That’s why they bought tickets to the Doobie Brothers/Chicago concert in Las Vegas for them. Tingle could have told the story of their concert experience. Or he could have invited his mom and dad on to tell their story, coming at it in the first person, which is what he did. Now, all Tingle needed to do was help them navigate through the story and react. Listen to this short character building break and note how much better the story is because his colorful parents participated in it.
The world and country are so political. Everywhere you go, it’s Trump, Trump, Trump. Unlike the nightly TV shows that bathe in the topic and take political stands with their comedy, the relationship between your audience and you is different. The audience doesn’t feel like they have a personal relationship with Stephen Colbert, but they do feel that with you. Much like in person, there are topics you should be very cautious about. Politics is one of them, out of fear the audience will mentally shut down at the mere mention of a political topic. That said, there are a few ways to do this without doing this. The Sandy Show, MIX 96.9, Cincinnati found one last week when they speculated about all the profanity used by James Coney when he testified in front of the Senate. This is a technique done before of inserting bleeps where there could have been profanity and profane words appear in the brain of the listener. The audience knows this didn’t actually happen, which is why it’s fun. This approach tackles the Hot Topic of politics without ever taking a stand because its sole purpose was to create fun by being farcical.
No one break will rocket any show to number one. Growth is an incremental game of earning and affirming images that get you there. Be fun, be different, be topical, be real and you’ll gain images that get you to stronger and stronger Nielsen numbers. Here’s a break that does that. Mark and Neanderpaul, KSLX, Phoenix know that Adam West passing away is a relevant topic for their adult male audience. Here’s how they seize the moment with this perishable topic (the topic will not be relevant the next week). They gathered a list of iconic villains from the show and then made up a few. They asked a listener to guess which ones were real and which were fake at a station event, which is great spice. They then asked the same questions to a caller in the break, and pit the caller against the listener from the night before. Humor comes in the made up villains names and the listeners’ reactions to them. It’s completely vicarious, very much in the moment, had an intent to make those tuning in laugh, and earned those images noted above for growth.
There is no better way to connect with the audience then by telling a story. Stories define us, entertain us, have elements which make them memorable, prove one’s authenticity, and are how we navigate relationships. What is a great song, but a story? What is an excellent TV show, but a story? Bud and Broadway, New Country 92.3, St. Louis do self-deprecating quite well. Jerry Broadway is always mocking the odd members of his family, including a subset he comically refers to as the “White Trash Division”. He shares all their exploits, with their funny details, as the innocent bystander, shocked (but not shocked!) at what he’s witnessing. This humorous vulnerability bonds him very efficiently to the audience because the story proves how real he is. The audience is so disarmed, they so see themselves in this story, and they’re so entertained that Jerry stands out as a personality.