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 hard is this? Not very. Tapping into the biggest stories of the day radiates relevancy to the audience. When tragedy happens, shows need to only think – what would Good Morning America or the Today Show do here? Sherman and Tingle, WDRV-FM, Chicago think like that. So the morning after Southwest #1380 is in the news for an engine blowing up at 30,000 feet and an emergency landing happening in Philadelphia, they’re faced with three choices: not have it as content on their show (big mistake), talk about it based on what they saw on TV and read online (just okay), or have someone on who was on the plane when it happened (amazing). No one tells a story better than the person who experienced it. The team got one of the passengers to come on to paint the picture of what it was like. While we won’t give away the secret of how they got her (it’s way easier than you think), these guys did a break no one else in Chicago did, thus winning the moment.
There are multiple ways to tell the audience you’re new to town. The standard way is to ask listeners where to get a great local pizza, etc. That can live for only so long before it becomes one-dimensional. Stacy and Jonah, WIL-FM (New Country 92.3), St. Louis have been in place as the new afternoon show in town for only a few months so we’re now looking for fresh ways to publicly learn the market and have some fun. Stacy’s mom recently visited for the first time. The streets are notoriously hard to say in the market given their French spellings. Which is why they had their longtime traffic guy, Captain Mack, give her the spellings of local roads and Stacy’s mom had to pronounce them. Goals served for being local, saying we’re new to town, and creating some fun.
March Madness is done, but there are a couple of breaks I thought you’d enjoy, both from Two Men and a Mom, WRAL-FM, Raleigh. The first is a simple break where Sarah tells Kyle and Bryan her bracket strategy. She is an NC State alum and knew little else about the teams involved in the tournament. That didn’t prevent her from picking winners, although her logic was odd, in a funny kind of way. The takeaway on this break is that when you are honest with the audience and comfortable to share that you have no idea what you’re doing, a playfulness and organic sense of humor appears. In the second break, the team crowns its winner of their parody, Starch Madness, where they looked for the most popular potato-based food item. After all the voting, the team decides to insert in the break a little unexpected Easter egg by using a personality from their sister TV station, who had an investigative bulletin. Surprises are nice in breaks and this is one of them to capture the imagination of the audience.
A first threshold by which listeners determine if an interview will be worth their time is if they know and like the person being interviewed. For any country audience, Scotty McCreery is on that list – he’s a star to them. Having the number one song in the format at the time of the interview increases the interview’s relevance. His interview with The Big Dave Show, B105, Cincinnati, is a textbook example of how to do an interview for the two groups of people listening: those who like and know Scotty and those who don’t. Instead of a typical interview where the person would come on and be asked about their inspiration for their current project (no one cares), they quickly congratulate him on being number one, note why he wrote the song (because his grandfather passed – they knew this from research) and then talked with Scotty about getting married, the new American Idol, and ran him through a fun quiz to see what he remembered about his time winning the show’s tenth season. All around, this was well thought out and done to make a very accessible five minute interview that was entertaining and engaging for all.
We all make snap judgments about people, don’t we? We see someone, make a note of something they’re doing, and make a broad assessment about their life. Anna and Raven, Star 99.9, Bridgeport, CT recently added a well-evaluated feature to their show (as developed by Bud and Broadway, WIL, St. Louis) called “That’s All I Need to Know About You”. This is a fun feature because it’s digestible, funny, and highly relatable. If you’re the kind of show that journals each weekend to generate personal experience stories as content, it’s likely you have several in there to kick this feature off (“if I see you shopping at Home Depot in curlers, that’s all I need to know about you!”). Throw a few out on your own to frame it so the audience understands what you’re looking for, then open the phones to grab some from listeners.
It’s important as a show to be on pop culture and reflect trends. The Throwback Thursday trend still works in social media. Seizing on this idea on Colleen and Bradley, myTalk107.1, Minneapolis, a radio station grounded in everything entertainment, we added a new, daily feature to this midday show called Throwback Live at 1:45. Holly the producer gets five audio clips of vintage pop culture. She plays a bit and then Colleen and Bradley compete head to head trying to guess what the audio is. It’s smart when you pit the cast against each other in a fun way as their chemistry will shine through. You’ll hear the throwback trend and all the fun in this version recently done.
It always helps to have fun experts on the show – they add to the entertainment factor of a break and give the cast something to play with. At Karson and Kennedy, MIX 104.1, Boston, Producer Mike was slated to marry two friends (he’s ordained). Mike hasn’t done that too much. So the show found a local justice of the peace they knew and asked him to participate in the break to give Mike advice. Great on paper, right? What adds to this is that the justice of the peace was very quick witted and knew the players so he could have fun with not only the scenario (he can tell stories about marrying people) but poke fun at Producer Mike, too, which made it more fun. When doing something like this, find experts in the field who can help your break have more sparkle.
Not that the concept always fits, but when we get stuck, we try to insert nudity or sex because that tends to make an idea better. Karlson and McKenzie, WZLX, Boston had a classic bit based around Heather Ford, their news person and voice-of-reason on the show, called Heather’s Hot Line. Heather would call a sex line in an effort to get the guy she was matched up with to do odd and weird things – the goal was to see how he’d react, in their efforts to create some uncomfortable drama so the audience leaned in to the hear what was next and laugh. Including sex/nudity doesn’t work for every brand, but considering this is a classic rock morning show targeting guys, it does.
The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston has a cast in TJ, Loren, and Producer Matt who are just like the audience. We leverage this regularly to connect with listeners and do it in an entertaining way. It’s not good enough for them to know that TJ has a young daughter by the name of Charlie Jane. He regularly reminds them what kind of daughter he has – a kid just like theirs who throws fits when she doesn’t get her way and at times when you least expect it. This show is a master at vulnerability, bringing the audience into their world. TJ records his daughter throwing her fits as he attempts, as a loving father, to “negotiate” her out of crying, for a weekly feature called “Tantrum Tuesday”. A relatable topic being done in a truly unique way (like this) is very memorable.
Strategic benchmarks do a few very important things for any show: they create an appointment at the time they’re done (necessary to gain another occasion from listeners). They earn you images quicker if they are focused on having fun. And, if centered around a cast member, they potentially build their character faster. JJ and Tiny, KFDI, Wichita, KS put a benchmark on their show about a year ago that helps the program win in every category listed above. Tiny is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to useless trivia. So we built a feature around this attribute to define him to the audience. Called “Can’t Top Tiny”, the listeners challenge him in who knows more around five inane trivial questions as chosen by JJ. This is done every morning at 7:50 (there’s the appointment) and we pay it off with a couple of hit records so the audience, once entertained by this vicarious feature, gets some music.