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.
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.
It’s so much fun to create mischief. Especially when it’s around a topic of the day. Think Fallon or Ellen – that’s what they’re doing all the time – inserting their sense of humor into a Hot Topic listeners are either talking about or aware of. Enter The Josie Dye Show with Matt and Carlin, Indie 88, Toronto, who deftly took the topic of the Super Bowl and created some drama by calling people in the New England area, introducing themselves as being a representative of their cable company, and telling them that there would be no TV service Sunday evening between the hours of 5:00-8:00pm, right when the Patriots are playing. This was a fantastic concept on paper, easy to comprehend by the audience tuning in, very well executed, and garnered some classic reactions by Patriots fans expecting to see their team win their sixth Super Bowl.
Many shows over the years have played the “I Love You Game” where they try to get someone on the phone to reply back that they love them. Sherman and Tingle, WDRV (The Drive), Chicago have added a few twists to this. They do a character called Paul the Perv who calls three business of the same type, to see if he can make that happen. Paul immediately makes things odd because the character is weird and creepy (without crossing the “ick” line). They then call three of the same kinds of business to theme it each week. The other element that works is the other cast members of the show have to guess, of the three calls, how many Paul will be successful with the payoff. This final item forces a vicarious element into the breaks, compelling the listener to guess, too, then stay tuned to see if they are right. These are fun and this weekly feature is perfectly designed to grab the audience’s attention and keep it throughout the break. Here’s one of the breaks from a recent airing so you can get a sense of how all these elements work together.
There are a handful of shows that get a ton of strategic stuff done in a short period of time and Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5 The Arch, St. Louis is one of them. We believe that discipline is critical with our content breaks on the show. That means that Spencer and his team must prep more, not less, to make good stuff happen. In its few short minutes, listen to this break as Spencer does character development (defines himself with a dentist story), ties the break to a pop culture event (the national championship college football game), and gets innovative by having a team member say things a football coach would say with a mouth stretcher, thus creating humor. There are four critical images to earn: tell stories that make the show relevant, and be fun, innovative, and authentic. This did all of that.
Here’s an idea you can’t do. Because it probably doesn’t fit your brand. Drew Steele, 92.5 FOX News, Ft. Myers, FL is a conservative talk show host who recognizes that listeners don’t want to wake up and hear him pounding on the table all day, being angry at the Democrats. Drew has always been sensitive to the emotional needs of his audience at that time of day and recognizes that having fun with the topics that fit resonates more efficiently with his audience. The new book “Fire and Fury” is a top shelf topic with Drew’s conservative audience. From the perspective that there are a lot of holes within the stories of the book, Drew decided to actually put some holes in the book by spending the week giving away to listeners the chance to meet him at a gun range and shoot at the tome. You own topics by doing big things with them. This was an idea to cause talk amongst his listeners because it lived on the fringe and captured where his audience was emotionally about the topic. Here’s the promo that ran all week so they could get credit for doing it. You can see a video of it here from TV coverage.
One more Christmas bit! You must develop relevant topics to keep the audience’s attention. Everywhere we turn, we’re reminded that listeners reward digestible breaks of relevant content and them having something other than just conversation in the break provides additional reasons to stay emotional involved. Bryan Lord, on Two Men and a Mom, WRAL-FM, Raleigh, has a mother who requires a Christmas list each year. Becky (his mom) is always great on the show. After having been hounded, the team called Becky and Bryan had Alexa (his other mother!) read his crazy Christmas list to his real mom. Why does this break work? It’s the Topic + what you do with it that equals its stickiness. Christmas was relevant in December when they did this. Getting Bryan’s mom to come on added to it (because she’s entertaining) and then weaving their comedic list through Alexa makes it very topical and innovative. The Alexa voice plants an Easter egg In the bit, helping the show hold on to the listeners so they don’t get bored.
The first break of your show can be the most critical – they get you in a groove and help you wake up, so you can help listeners who tune in wake up. Mark and Neanderpaul, KSLX, Phoenix have a very simple, well-framed break in their show’s first half hour called “Middle School”. It’s a trivia-based game with questions centered around a topical news item, quizzing one listener for a prize. The questions are relevant and the goal is to have fun around an idea that is vicarious to all others just waking up or driving to work at that moment. Humor is created around the answers, thus serving the most important goal of laughter. PPM is a game of occasions so their locked in time creates yet another appointment for early risers.
Every single show, regardless of format, needs to earn images to win. Even a show grounded in politics. Drew Steele, 92.5 FOX News, Ft. Myers, FL understands that, as people wake up and he shares with them news and views on the stories of the day from his politically right sensibilities, that nothing helps them cut through better than humor. There seems to be a slew of political scandals right now. Highlighting those from the Democrats and doing a produced piece called the Twelve Days of Scandals, using audio from President Trump and the media, is a winner for Drew’s politically conservative audience. They want to wake up and laugh around the topics of the day just like your audience. Here’s the produced piece so you can get a sense of how Drew gives the audience a good time around their values as they get the day going.