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.
How do you take a relatable as simple as wondering if people with low cell phone batteries are bothered with not having a full charge and turn it into bolder content? Mark and NeanderPaul, KSLX Phoenix show you with this week’s audio. On a show call recently, Mark bemoaned that every time he looked at his wife’s cell phone, her battery was dangerously low. That’s a simple enough character story to tell on the air and leave as-is or use as a phone topic. But the show decided to add other elements to the content to elevate it. Mark talked with three listeners at a station promotion and asked their names, what they did, and the current status of their cell phone charge (element #1). Then he used that audio and asked NeanderPaul to guess what their battery level was, knowing that he would be funny with it (element #2). They turned what could have been a standard break or phone topic into a game listeners vicariously played along with in the car. Add elements like these on occasion to your breaks to present them differently to your audience so your content stays fresh and different for fans.
We have seen an increased emphasis on local content with Covid affecting every community. Here’s where live and local shines. Be the most engaging and entertaining local show and that’s the ultimate combination in any marketplace. Will the October State Fair take place in North Carolina? That’s been one of the big questions the locals have wondered for the last month in Raleigh. It’s an iconic event that all look forward to. On the run-up to the decision, Kyle, Bryan, and Sarah, WRAL-FM, Raleigh have kept a watch and groomed a relationship with the larger-than-life state Ag Commissioner, Steve Troxler, the guy making the decision. He’s a Dr. Phil-soundalike and colorful character. Once canceled, they had Troxler on their show to explore the decision and have some fun. Find colorful local characters that live all around you and figure out how to get them on your program. Live and local means much less when it isn’t fun. This scores on both accounts and separates this show from all the generic shows around it, doing content given to them by a prep service.
The most entertaining guests on the show sometimes live on the fringe. When they are family of cast members, they also provide character development. Letterman taught us the importance of finding the colorful people around the show and figure out how to get them on so their oddities can capture the audience’s attention. John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego have some very fun family members. John’s daughter, Abby, just became a a vegan. This lifestyle is distant from the typical country partisan. So, John decided to interview his daughter to find out what that was like, and, loaded up with things to say, Abby judged the audience and created both fun and character development for her father in the process. Bottom line: look for the fun, odd people around you and introduce them to the audience to create some electric content. Here’s the break to hear how it’s done.
Often in personality radio, we don’t believe we can get the guest at the center of the story. So, we end up not trying as a default from this belief and put full weight on the cast to deliver the goods. Compare doing the break this way, and then imagine a deeper, fuller conversation with the person who can more authentically talk to your topic because they are its focus. Southwest Airlines is based on Dallas, as you probably know. What changes is that airline making with Covid-19? A fair question considering they are one of the country’s major airlines, they have a hub in the market, and many listeners will be using them for summer vacations. Instead of a break of speculation or reading about it online, Hawkeye in the Morning with Katelyn, KSCS, Dallas, put in for an interview with Southwest CEO, Gary Kelly. The effort was low for a big payoff, because Gary said yes. Hear this break, then imagine its opposite – the team just talking about it – and ask yourself: which is a better break to engage listeners, create talk, and is more memorable?
A critical element to create great content is conflict – be it real or manufactured for fun. Content segments without that push and pull of tension do little to grab the audience emotionally, which is the one thing that will both intrigue them to hear it (hence, a powerful set-up or hook at the very beginning of the break) and provide a resolution to that dramatic thesis at its end. For Father’s Day last month, Lexi and Banks, K-BULL 93, Salt Lake City had the typical giveaway packages from the promotions folks. Not content to play a silly game or take caller X, they fished through social media looking for listeners who had borrowed money from their fathers and not paid it back. That was the thesis of real life drama they would use to tell a story, tie into Father’s Day, and get dad and and their kid on to give something out. Mining the story from both perspectives, as you will hear below, is appropriate and relatable. But at the end, they asked the father to forgive the “loan” in return for the prize package, thus providing resolution. All around, this is very well conceived and executed by the team!
It’s been a running joke that people immigrating to the United States know more about our country than actual citizens. We decided to test this theory last year around the July Fourth holiday with Stacey and Jonah, 1065 The Arch, St. Louis. We chose three fun co-workers for the test and introduced a local middle school teacher (a friend of a cast member) who would administer the questions. We did this over the course of three days on the program to extend listenership by making it a narrative arc by doing it at the same time. The keys to the win here were that we chose the co-workers based solely on one element – how entertaining they were. The teacher was added spice which allowed Stacey and Jonah to just coordinate the fun. The questions were the same each day as you will hear below, and became vicarious for those driving to work to play along in the car. On the final day, the middle school teacher tallied up the scores and we crowned Most Patriotic.
You can tell someone else’s story, or get them to tell it themselves – which one is better to you? Obviously, it’s the latter. When you hear a great story, make the effort to get the person who experienced the story to come on your show and explore it with them. Doing so brings you a deeper level of honest storytelling, you find out more details which makes the story come to life, and there’s much more emotion to it. You might have seen the viral video of Chris Swanson, the Flint, MI cop who took off his riot gear to be with protestors. Instead of just talking about it, John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego convinced him to come on the show to tell his story. Hearing his voice made all the difference because he lived it and it ended up being pro-cop, a lost perspective with all the protests. This changed the break from C-level to A-level. We all must be better at this kind of prep. Doing this makes the break much more memorable and gives you something around the topic to totally own.
Destinations and payoffs are critical elements to entertaining breaks on the radio. Simply put, once you introduce a topic, do you know where you’re headed or is it unstructured in a way where it’s just chatter which ends when you’re done? You must have breaks that have a bold conclusion to conversation to help them stand out. Mark and NeanderPaul, KSLX, Phoenix took note of the governor’s institution of a curfew given the recent protests. This break has two parts: the front part is the fun, organic conversation around the topic. This chat defines our talent and lends a very comfortable feel to the topic via conversation. Its destination is one of the very rare song parodies the show does to heighten the break’s entertainment factor. If you have destinations and payoffs to your breaks (both large and small), you’ll condition listeners to know you’re always taking them to the candy store for some humor and goodness.
You cannot ignore the protests. Some shows fear tackling a topic as big as this, but to build a brand in 2020, you must take a stand. Don’t conflate taking a stand against racism or for the Black Lives Matter movement with politics. You can easily wade into the former with your honest feelings without ever touching Trump. After all, who’d call to say they would no longer listen because they were for racism? Part of connection around a topic of this size is first being honest with the audience, and then understanding the tone with which you deliver your perspective moderates any “stop listening moment” your audience could have. John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego handled this perfectly last week when they admitted to listeners that as white people, they truly don’t understand what it’s like to be African American. So they found a black pastor to come on the show to teach them what they did not get in their everyday American experience. This never became about politics – it was affirming, uplifting, positive, and, at its end, might even move you to cry. This is relevance – not fearing the topic, but thinking through how to present it so the audience leaves understanding your values as someone they wish to wake up with everyday on the radio.
Most times when doing character development, you will tell a story that accentuates something in common you have with the typical listener: you’re married, a parent, you own a dog. There’s drama or something happened in those areas which allows you to connect with listeners and entertain them with the details. At other times, you might focus on a quirky trait that most cannot identify with, but it’s so fun it’s memorable. Lexi and Banks, KUBL (The Bull), Salt Lake City do a break below focusing on Lexi’s love of the movie Grease. Lexi believes she is an expert on the movie and knows the words to every song. The Tony Awards were cancelled and replaced with a live version of Grease music. So Banks decided to test Lexi’s knowledge of the music by getting her to sing-a-long with some of its songs. They had a reason to do this because of the Tonys so it became relevant to feature this expertise a cast member had.