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.

KHTH Taco Quest

Stacey K & JonahProduction values against quirky ideas make them stand out.  Stacey K and Jonah at HOT 101.7, Santa Rosa, CA embarked on Taco Quest 2016 after Jonah admitted to the room he did not like tacos.  Who doesn’t like tacos???  So, we went to find the market’s best tacos over the course of one week.  Listeners gave suggestions, they went for lunch buying tacos for those who showed up, all in an effort to convert Jonah into a taco lover.  There are a few things to point out in the structure of this short break:  the taco jingle they use close to the top of the break sets the table for the silly that follows.  Understanding that the audience responds to “visual cues”, they also include in the break a quick interview with the winner of the market’s best tacos as well as the audio they use just after, giving him the coveted ten tacos rating.  When designing a break, having other elements inside keeps its energy level high and offers the audience opportunities to get reinvigorated if the conversation starts to drag.  Breaks designed like this don’t feel as long as they are because of that.

Power, 106, Los Angeles R U Down?

Every show need a signature feature.  Its defining moment.  The one thing it does that forces audience to turn the show on because it’s habitual.  You’re better off, as a strategy, if you do this feature more often.  Which is why The Cruz Show, Power 106, Los Angeles, does R U Down, its version of the highly rated prank call, every hour on the tens.  Shows tend to get very nervous airing a bit like this so often, but remember two important things:  PPM is about occasions and occasions are usually tied to creating appointments.  Also, listeners come to the show and stay for just a few minutes – so the tactic of doing a signature feature once an hour will rarely work against you if it’s that entertaining.  The other thing to consider is to figure out your most unique, highly entertaining benchmark, and worry about burning it in, instead of being worried about burning it out.   Build appointments in your show and you’ll tend to get more occasions – central to a winning recipe.

WDRV, Chicago Tingle’s Parents on the Concert

One easy way to spice up your show is to find fun “characters” to play a role in it.  Not fake characters, but people in real life.  This week’s audio comes from Sherman and Tingle, WDRV, Chicago.  It proves two points when putting your program together:  bold ancillary characters, who come and go as needed, add color to a show.  Also, when telling a story, invite the people in the story to participate in telling it.  They have a perspective and will add detail and emotion that you can’t because they were in the middle of it.  Tingle and his sister have parents who are huge Doobie Brothers fans.  That’s why they bought tickets to the Doobie Brothers/Chicago concert in Las Vegas for them.  Tingle could have told the story of their concert experience.  Or he could have invited his mom and dad on to tell their story, coming at it in the first person, which is what he did.  Now, all Tingle needed to do was help them navigate through the story and react.  Listen to this short character building break and note how much better the story is because his colorful parents participated in it.

MIX 96.9, Cincinnati The Comey Bleeps

The world and country are so political.  Everywhere you go, it’s Trump, Trump, Trump.  Unlike the nightly TV shows that bathe in the topic and take political stands with their comedy, the relationship between your audience and you is different.  The audience doesn’t feel like they have a personal relationship with Stephen Colbert, but they do feel that with you.  Much like in person, there are topics you should be very cautious about.  Politics is one of them, out of fear the audience will mentally shut down at the mere mention of a political topic.  That said, there are a few ways to do this without doing this.  The Sandy Show, MIX 96.9, Cincinnati found one last week when they speculated about all the profanity used by James Coney when he testified in front of the Senate.  This is a technique done before of inserting bleeps where there could have been profanity and profane words appear in the brain of the listener.  The audience knows this didn’t actually happen, which is why it’s fun.  This approach tackles the Hot Topic of politics without ever taking a stand because its sole purpose was to create fun by being farcical.

KSLX, Phoenix The Batman Villain Quiz

No one break will rocket any show to number one.   Growth is an incremental game of earning and affirming images that get you there.  Be fun, be different, be topical, be real and you’ll gain images that get you to stronger and stronger Nielsen numbers.  Here’s a break that does that. Mark and Neanderpaul, KSLX, Phoenix know that Adam West passing away is a relevant topic for their adult male audience.  Here’s how they seize the moment with this perishable topic (the topic will not be relevant the next week).  They gathered a list of iconic villains from the show and then made up a few.  They asked a listener to guess which ones were real and which were fake at a station event, which is great spice.  They then asked the same questions to a caller in the break, and pit the caller against the listener from the night before.  Humor comes in the made up villains names and the listeners’ reactions to them.  It’s completely vicarious, very much in the moment, had an intent to make those tuning in laugh, and earned those images noted above for growth.

WIL, St. Louis Another Episode of the White Trash Division of My Family

There is no better way to connect with the audience then by telling a story.  Stories define us, entertain us, have elements which make them memorable, prove one’s authenticity, and are how we navigate relationships.  What is a great song, but a story?  What is an excellent TV show, but a story?  Bud and Broadway, New Country 92.3, St. Louis do self-deprecating quite well.  Jerry Broadway is always mocking the odd members of his family, including a subset he comically refers to as the “White Trash Division”.  He shares all their exploits, with their funny details, as the innocent bystander, shocked (but not shocked!) at what he’s witnessing.  This humorous vulnerability bonds him very efficiently to the audience because the story proves how real he is.  The audience is so disarmed, they so see themselves in this story, and they’re so entertained that Jerry stands out as a personality.

B105, Cincinnati, Who’s Brad?

Here’s a clever way for a show to give out Brad Paisley tickets.  The Big Dave Show, B105, Cincinnati is very strategic.  Wanting to tap into the market’s biggest country concert that weekend, they gave them out by playing a fun game called “Who’s Brad?”  Here are all the wins in this break posted below:  they re-lyriced Michael Jackson’s “Who’s Bad” for a production value (this signals to the audience the fun that is about to happen).  Then, they note to the audience not only the Brad Paisley concert, but that Chelsie on the show has a husband named Brad, too. The listener has to determine if the short statement applies to Brad Paisley or Chelsie’s husband, so we get character development out of this, as well.  The production value is silly, the clues are short, and the game is efficient so people can play along in the car.  Here’s both the set-up solicitation and the actual execution.  An all-around A+ idea.

Indie 88, My Mother Gets An Apology

One more Mother’s Day post?  Pointing very successfully to it’s what you do with the topic that matters, The Josie Dye Show, Indie 88, Toronto, did something special for Mother’s Day.  They actually did two things, as demonstrated in these breaks.  Josie’s mom (completely unversed in radio) hosted the show in place of her daughter.  Josie was still there, guiding mom through anchoring the show (this was on purpose so we still had her).  It was unrehearsed and more fun because of that.  Then, in two other breaks on the show, co-hosts Matt and Carlin were required to call their moms on-the-air and apologize for something that happened when they were a kid. These stories, and this dynamic, created memorable and fun radio – proving again that if you do something unique with the topic, it gets remembered.

106.5, The Arch, St. Louis Sibling Rivalry for Mother’s Day

There are so many angles for a holiday like Mother’s Day for the average show.  At Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5, The Arch, St. Louis, the team found out that Brando bought his mother concert tickets for the evening and his sister was upset because she wanted to take mom to dinner with the family.  Spencer sees fun conflict here.  The show did two breaks where they got the sister on to help Brando tell the story (another chance to stir the pot), followed by another break with Brando, his sister, and their mother, to ask her which of the two she wanted to do. The team made her choose between Brando and his sister’s gifts!  There are a few things to learn in the execution of these breaks.  First, listen to how quickly at the beginning of the break they set (and reset) the storyline.  They waste no time in enrolling the audience in what’s going on, especially those who didn’t know about it.  Then, they quickly got to the relatives to help tell the story, thus putting another element in each break to get emotion, perspective, and entertainment.  Finally, the team gives you a reason to stay tuned or come back to the show at the end of each break, teasing the audience forward for another occasion.

B105, Cincinnati How News Should Be Done

Should you do news on your show?  It depends on how you do it.  There probably is a news “expert” in your market who provides the information some listeners are looking for.  Your listener, regardless of the topics for the break, come for a different reason.  They want to be entertained.  The Big Dave Show, B105, Cincinnati excels at how to deliver the news. Doing this feeds both the need to be topical (the news is always about whatever is going on in the world so, by default, it makes you topical), but you must do it in a certain way to elevate it to the level of engagement to cut through.  Here are some of the things that make this feature terrific for this show:  each story is only a few sentences of new information before the show pivots to conversation, perspective, and organic humor; the show starts the story with some associated audio clip to grab the attention of those listening (I love this); they are very honest with the audience in their commentary so you get character development; it’s often local; how they do this fits how their show sounds.  Just delivering the info won’t cut it any longer.  Handle “news” this way and there is a strategic win for your show.

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