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.
Sometimes playing off stereotypes helps you create humor. When it’s tied into something local and pop culture, it’s even better. Spencer’s Neighborhood, at 106.5 The Arch, St. Louis, we decided that each cast member would adopt a local high school and track its football team through the season. This was an easy decision considering the power of the sport and that these are the kids of the women listening to the show. Playing off the stereotype that cheerleaders are airheads, Brando went to his school and tested to see how smart cheerleaders were. The result? They’re all Mensa members based on the questions he asked. The audience knows this is a put on, which makes it all the more fun to listen to.
Much of the content you do is correlated to where your relationship is with the audience. Younger shows do more character development so the audience can get to know you faster than older shows (who are probably better defined). At The Josie Dye Show, Indie 88, Toronto, we want the cast better known to the audience as they’re a traditional Stage One program (the audience knows very little about them). One morning, Josie wondered where she was conceived. So to create a moment listeners would lean in to, she called her always-entertaining mother to ask. On other breaks, she had the rest of the cast do the same and then they did a few listeners with their parents in a recurring one-week idea. This was never dirty, but rose to the level of “can’t miss” because it was vulnerable and quite revealing. Here’s the break where Josie talks to her mom.
Kim Jong Un is in the news. Looks like he wants to nuke Guam and the rest of the United States. For any show, getting North Korea’s leader for an interview is a total coup. WDRV, Chicago’s Sherman and Tingle worked it hard and Un called their show to talk about the state of things. Well actually, it’s his translator. Looks like Kim knows lots about how bad Chicago traffic is, wants to annihilate the awful freeways around town, uses the station app to listen to his favorite classic rock, and has deep affection for the station midday talent, the iconic Bob Stroud. Great shows do perishable content. Breaks with topics cut from today’s headlines and done in a sticky, unique, memorable way, always work. This show will continue to win because what they do on the show today would feel very dated if done next week. That’s good. Enjoy Kim Jong Un and his translator on The Drive’s morning show.
The stickiest stuff you can do on your show is tell a story about yourself. Especially one with tension and drama. We connect by telling stories to each other. Stories define us and allow those listening to see themselves in you. Stylz and Roman, US 99, Chicago, tell great, relatable stories about themselves. Doug Stylz is an adult male (over 40, married, with a kid). Getting a tattoo should be no problem, right? Not to his conservative parents, who’ve always frowned on it. Listen as Doug becomes a kid again as he breaks the news to his parents (his father walks out of the house in disgust). Then a second break the day after where Justin, Doug’s on-air partner, calls his parents to smooth things over. This is very real, very relatable, and very much fun as the listeners identify with Doug’s dilemma and drama. This is the kind of storytelling and content that listeners define talent through and hold on to for a long time. Both breaks are below.
You will never go wrong tapping the vein of topical. Great radio shows are perishable in the sense that their topics and comedy must be about whatever is going on today. Mark and Neanderpaul, KSLX, Phoenix inserted themselves into the quick dismissal of White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci by putting together a parody about both him and his short stay, set to the tune of “That’s Amore”. When you grab a Hot Topic and do something very unique with it, with the intention making the the audience laugh, you win and you win big. In part because what you have can easily go viral on social media, but mostly because your audience is so entertained they can’t leave you.
Relationships content might be the most universal you can do. Everyone has relationships so it’s very relatable and connective. At Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5 The Arch, St. Louis, Spencer was complaining about the number of first dates he’s had that never became second dates. He wondered what he was doing wrong. So his partners, Cassiday and Brando, ventured to find out by setting him up on a series of dates. We know we needed a twist to hook the audience so we added two big elements to this idea. The first was to wrap it up with an on-air “focus group” of the women Spencer had dates with for honest feedback. We believed that act of vulnerability would humanize Spencer and vibe with the audience. We also decided we needed a certain type of woman to capture the imagination of the audience. In our brainstorm, we decided that one kind of woman who would be very open and unfiltered were women who’d been to prison. So we “cast” for ex-cons, adding the edge that helped this relationships idea cut through. Here’s a supportive break where the team asked a relationships expert how Spencer should handle himself on these dates.
We embarked on a community service project with Two Men and a Mom, MIX 101.5, Raleigh this past week. One of their yearly causes is Backpack Buddies, where they ask the audience to donate things for backpacks for underprivileged kids going back to school. Instead of the standard pitch, we decided to pit Team Men verses Team Mom to play off the name of the show. Part of that was to get local celebrities to call in and pledge to a team believing the guys would pledge to Team Men and the women would join Team Mom. The show scored an interview with the iconic Coach K from Duke, which is in the market. Here’s his interview. The entire goal is to build support for the day we gather the items, creating a fun and friendly competition in the process to help define the cast. You might be surprised at the team Coach K chose, showcasing his excellent sense of compassion and humor in the process.
Production 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.
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.
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.