Great 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 TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston The Yank Prank

There might be no greater rivalry in sports than the Red Sox – Yankees.  Boston is known for its sports and it’s a viable topic, even for stations targeting women.  The key, always, is what you do with the topic.  Just chatting about it or doing X’s and O’s won’t fly with most audiences, even listeners to sports radio.  Each year when the match-up happens at Fenway, The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston, does The Yank Prank where they head to the park to find Red Sox fans who’ve had a little too much to drink to record their enthusiasm for the team.  They then ask that person to read a card, which at one point, becomes very pro-Yankees, just to see what the reaction is – and it’s usually quite funny once they understand their allegiance has changed.  Listeners love payoffs and this twist hits every image:  it’s fun, authentic, very innovative, and relevant for Boston audiences.

AMP 103.3, Boston Cardi B Does Nursery Rhymes

Cardi B has her baby and The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston has a reply!  As TJ always does, it’s both relatable and highly innovative.  My friends at Coleman Insights talked this week in their blog about the three T’s of content:  What is your topic, what treatment will you give it, and what will be its tone?  We preach all the time to be on the biggest topics of the day, and doing something with them that both fits the show and is different for the market.  TJ and his team do that here first with a highly known topic (Cardi B having her baby) that requires no effort to follow as she’s very familiar.  Their treatment is to debut Cardi’s new “songs” (which are nursery rhymes).  The tone is humor, which is the most important attribute because listeners wake up wanting to have a great time.  Enjoy an excellent execution of Coleman’s three T’s of content.

CBS-FM, New York Scott Shannon is Confused by Lettuce

Real life is really funny.  Relatable stories are fun to hear.  That’s proven in this clip from the legendary Scott Shannon, CBS-FM, New York City.  Scott knows he’s perceived as a star by the audience (he earned his way there by connecting with and entertaining the audience over the years).  That’s why this break about Scott going to lunch is so humorous.  Admitting he’s hungry, Scott finds a new restaurant in town which is “just like Chipolte” where you have to get on line and choose the items you want in the meal.  Here’s where the fun happens as Scott admits confusion to knowing what all those items are.  He said he had to choose between six lettuces – and didn’t even know there were six lettuces.  The whole break has wonderful details that paint a great picture and reminds the audience that, while Scott is a star, he’s actually a regular guy like you and me.  Don’t underestimate the power of a story like this to grab the audience.

WDRV, Chicago Sherman’s $14,000 Vacation

Hooking the audience with a question almost always works to build intrigue to hear a story.  Brian Sherman, from Sherman and Tingle, WDRV, Chicago, had a lovely summer vacation, until he got home.  That’s when he discovered his air conditioning unit and furnace were completely, totally dead.  And that the cost to replace all of it would be $14,000.  Brian could have just told the story, which would have been good.  But he hooked them by asking the audience what happened that cost him $14,000 at the end of his vacation (there’s your hook and intrigue).  After a series of wrong guesses, someone got it right, which is when Brian then told the story.  This is brilliantly structured and executed to grab the audience to want to hear the story while including listeners.

MIX 104.1, Boston It’s Time for Lobster News

Karson & KennedyThere are very few markets where lobster news would be a part of a show’s information segment.  But considering it’s a local food in their market, Karson and Kennedy, MIX 104.1, Boston, highlight all news that is lobster-oriented.  Lobster ice cream might not make it as a FOX News Alert, but for these guys, it’s something that should be showcased and included in Kate Merrill’s hourly news segment!  The most important thing you can do as a show is cultivate an image of fun.  In this stressful world, being the respite from the seriousness of the world today, laughter is your best bet.  Just reporting the lobster news isn’t enough.  In this short part of the newscast, you’ll not only hear the lobster news, but also a silly Letterman-esque jingle that highlights it and makes it even more fun.  Go create laughter for the listener and you’ll be doing the one thing listeners want most – escape from the world we know today.

WARH, St. Louis The Interview Q&A

There’s this belief in PPM that interviews don’t work.  In reality, crappy interviews don’t work.  That’s why Howard Stern’s famous one-hour interviews with near anyone are riveting – because Howard works overtime figuring out what he’ll do in the interview; what he’ll talk about with the subject; and how he’ll create a compelling, fun, interesting, probing conversation.  Any idea who David Koechner is?  He’s the guy who played Champ opposite Ron Burgundy in one of the funniest movies ever, Anchorman.  Koechner was playing the local comedy club when he stopped in for an interview with Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5 The Arch, St. Louis.  Knowing the audience would not recognize him by name and that a standard Q&A wouldn’t be enough, they threw Anchorman lines at him to see if he remembered what the character said in the exchange  Quirky, different, and fun.  If you get interviews, work hard on what you’ll do to draw in people who’ve never heard of your subject – probe, tell stories, and have fun and you’ll be in a good spot.

WIL, St. Louis Launching a Phone Topic

Phone topics are regular content choices on every morning show.  They work because their intent, generally, is to tell stories around a relatable subject.  But how do you launch the topic in a way where it doesn’t feel rote or come off as though it came from a prep service?  Stacey and Jonah, WIL, St. Louis pay extra attention to how they position even what could be perceived as the most generic of topics.  This one is about best concert experiences.  Could be ho-hum, but listen to how they debut this to the audience.  Here are the attributes of this week’s audio:  coming out of a song, they start with content.  There is no filler or nonsense – they immediately tell a story – and that story is audio of a kid who got a guitar from Dierks Bentley at a concert.  The exchange is short and fun.  I am immediately hooked and have context.  Next is the solicit, followed by banter between the two to reference their best experience – inside getting their chemistry and playfulness (again more fun), followed by the phone number.  All done in under 75 seconds.  They connect with us, made us laugh, gave us a frame point, and then made the solicit.  What could have been positioned as a standard phone topic was wonderfully executed.

Indie 88, Toronto Josie’s Mom Facebook Friends the Cast

There’s always been this unwritten rule that you shouldn’t friend your boss on Facebook.  But how would you react if a cast member’s mother friended you?  That’s the question on The Josie Dye Show, Indie 88, Toronto when Josie’s mom friended her cast mates, Matt and Carlin.  They have no desire to let Josie’s mom see that side of their lives.  That tension is necessary in this character development idea – will or won’t they accept her friend request?  Josie did the most obvious thing, she got her mom on the phone with the entire show to discuss it, with the payoff being a decision on what will happen.  Great character ideas are rooted in a story.  That narrative must have a twist or turn which sets up the dilemma for a payoff so the audience stays through it until the end to hear how it will be resolved.  This works on all those levels and is sticky as a result.

WTMX, Chicago The Fake Cake

Proving that listeners glum on to the frivolous, Jen from Koz and Jen, WTMX, Chicago presented a cake in her weekend journal she baked for her youngest daughter’s birthday.  The cake was too perfect looking for us – so we started to rib her that she actually purchased it instead of baking it.  The room became so much fun over this, we saw a narrative arc to do through the show.  They posted a picture of the cake on their Facebook page at the start of the program and asked listeners to go see it and comment if they think she really baked it (digital engagement).  This, of course, became on-air content and calls (laughter for those just tuning in).  And culminated at the end of the show with Koz calling Raina, Jen’s daughter, to “authenticate” that the cake was for real (character development).  Silly is better than weighty – this proves listeners will follow along and play in the sandbox if we give them something substantive that is also easy to consume (pun intended!).  Here’s a compilation of some of the breaks they did through the show so you can hear how it evolved.

WUBE, Cincinnati The Fake Keith Urban

Silly fun.  That’s why listeners tune in. They’re looking for a team that likes each other (they can tell if you don’t) who want to provide a respite from the stresses of life with a laugh or smile each morning.  They’re drawn to these two elements – the chemistry of the cast and amount of humor you offer around the topics of the day.  The Big Dave Show, B105, Cincinnati is a terrific example of a show that has these attributes.  Chelsie is obsessed with Keith Urban.  To showcase the team’s chemistry, Dave and Statt arranged for “Keith Urban” to call on her birthday.  It’s obvious this Keith Urban is a fake from the start, but the goal is to just have some fun – and in the process the audience feels a part of the joke, we highlight how much the cast likes each other, and the audience leaves having had a good time.

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