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 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.
The audience requires us to build out breaks so they sparkle. Oftentimes when telling a personal story, it’s no more difficult than getting audio of the experience to help tell it. Brando, inside Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5, The Arch, St. Louis, did his usual holiday decorating, which meant getting on the roof to string some lights. Not content with just telling the story, the team got Brando’s wife on to add some drama and tension to it – Alex’s take on his efforts adds to the narrative. Also, always worried he’d fall off the roof, Brando recorded telling his daughter how to call 911 before he got on the ladder, which added more audio to the break. These moving parts positioned the break in truly HD quality, helping the audience see everything in their head so they could more easily imagine where he was and what it was like. This, in turn, made the break even more entertaining. Side note – this show does an amazing job getting to things, commencing with the storytelling quickly, and wrapping the break up before the audience bores. This happens because they have a game plan – no wasted moments respects the audience’s time and they’re rewarded with additional listens because of it.
Considering most of your listeners spent time with their families over the holiday, it’s always fun to get a perspective of a show member by someone else in the family. Enter Producer Luckey, who is part of the team at Fast in the Morning on AMP 103.7, Dallas. The team regularly does character development by checking on the two main co-host’s spouses. That this show leans younger, it also means they can involve their producer, Luckey, who’s single – so they see if he’s been a good son by talking to his mother. Character development comes primarily two ways on any show. By you giving your honest take on the topics of the day (the audience will know if you’re faking a perspective). And by being vulnerable enough to let us into your life by the stories you tell. Luckey’s mom shoots the audience straight on how good he was as a son in the previous few days. Nathan and Sybil make every attempt to stir the pot for even better story-telling and character development. All around, a very strategic break!
Shows need signature features – being known for something helps define the program and its sense of humor. Locked in features also cause appointments, resulting in more PPM meters. Mark and NeanderPaul, KSLX, Phoenix do the 30-Second Song Challenge each morning – it works because it’s fun, vicarious, and further aligns the show with the critical station music images that it’s the classic rock authority in the market. On occasion, doing something atypical with an established feature helps it stand out again. Which is why they got Alice Cooper, who runs a syndicated show on the station each evening, play the game. Listen as the iconic rock star fails miserably and flames out. Another moment which causes talk for the show and helps the feature cut through.
In a recent article, Jerry Lee, the iconic owner of B101, Philadelphia, noted that one of the principles of engaging an audience is that relevancy drives a connection. We preach this all the time to shows – the more you tell stories where the listener can think, “Yup, me, too” you have a potential connection point to start or evolve a relationship. Koz and Jen, WTMX, Chicago, had one such moment (they actually have many!). Jen’s daughter came home after being out with her husband for an afternoon of errands. The kid was bouncing off the walls. Jen couldn’t figure out why, then her husband admitted he gave her a super-sized Mountain Dew. The daughter had never had so much caffeine and sugar. Boneheaded husband move! Which lead to a phone topic of moves your spouse made with the kids that didn’t work out (one father ate five gallons of ice cream with his kids for dinner when his wife was out). Relevancy drives connection. Sometimes it’s not rocket science! This might be simple storytelling, but it’s powerful, intimate, vulnerable radio.
Apple releases its new iOS update and anyone with an old phone suffers the same problem: their phones don’t work as well. Enter The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston, to address the issue. TJ believes that Apple is messing with us on purpose – so we’ll all get new phones. This show has a unique way of expressing what the audience is thinking in a fun way. Great shows have a good time with whatever the topics of the day are. With Apple’s release of new phones and a new iOS, TJ delves into the issue in a way generated from his perspective (a great starting point to help define you). Not only is this content on point (many in the audience is nodding “yea, I think that, too”), but TJ does this in a way that stands out. Listen for the content, his talk on the topic, and the production value which makes it sparkle.
What is your connection to the story? Why was this meaningful for you? How did it impact you? We all know the devastation of the fires in Santa Rosa, CA. The visuals are searing. For Rob and Joss, Froggy 92.9, Santa Rosa, CA, they mean much more. Rob’s childhood home, and the house his mother lived in, burned to the ground. It was claimed 100% and they had to evacuate his mother to safety. Having a lifetime of memories in a home lost to wildfires is Rob’s connection to the horror. Rob not only shared this with the audience, along with pictures of the site, he wrote a very moving poem for his childhood home, the place with all his memories and moments and read it to the audience. One of your jobs is to move the audience to care about you. The audience pauses in this moment as they grieve with Rob and for him.
There are several kinds of content you can do on your show. All of it signals to your audience that you understand what’s important to them and each of them has a strategic purpose. Pop culture says you’re tapped into whatever is hot right now. Personal stories give you an efficient vehicle to define yourself to listeners in a way where they see themselves. Lifestyle content communicates that you understand what they’re going through. One of my favorite features of all time is called The Bus Stop, done by Michael Chew, at MORE-FM (WBEB), Philadelphia. Michael was home early enough in the day to greet his kids as they returned from school on the bus. We hatched the idea that he’d asked the kids, as they got off the bus, about their day. Maybe it was because they were going to be on the radio or because they knew Michael as he was their neighbor, but what the kids offered was almost always very entertaining, and tapped into the lifestyle of the adult woman listening to the station who also had kids and encountered the same conversation when she got home.
There may be no bigger baseball city than Chicago. The morning after the Cubs eeked out an unexpected win over the Washington Nationals, Stylz and Roman, US99, Chicago knew radio that morning was no more difficult than putting listeners on to celebrate the victory (the win sent the team to the league championship game). Having one of the team’s biggest fans on your show certainly helps, as you’ll hear in the reactions. We oftentimes preach innovation against the big topics on this page. Letting listeners on to mine them for their enthusiasm when things like this happen helps the show easily bond with the audience while being terrifically local, too. Sometimes it’s no harder than this.