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.
Destinations and payoffs. That’s a requirement for listeners in this A.D.D. world of “want it now, want it fast”. Watch reality shows on TV and see how quickly they move along the storyline, always in search of conflict and tension in each scene, and some take-away that will engage the viewers. Many shows choose their topics, then spend their allotted mic time talking around it, in search of some exit ramp to move on to the next thing in their clock. Mark and NeaderPaul, KSLX, Phoenix found interesting content when they learned that Hitler’s phone had been sold at auction. Instead of just spending their time gabbing about it, they imagined what outgoing messages from Hitler might sound like. The goal is to establish the content quickly to hook the audience then get to the funny fast, which is what they did in this break, satiating the audience, respecting their time, and setting up another occasion because they affirmed images of being humorous.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to own an Academy Award? Is it heavy? Does everyone want to hold and touch it? Are there rules and regulations from the Academy to ownership? The answer to all three is yes. John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego were curious about all these questions (curiosity is so critical to be a successful radio personality) and then they found out that Chris Turner, the longtime (and excellent) promotions director at the radio station, has an Oscar, and not for the reason you’d think. So they put him on to tell his story and get answers to all the questions they wondered about. Bringing people inside a topic, from any angle, is always good radio if it leads to a fascinating story with humor. This is a timely and topical break given we’re in the season for awards shows, specifically the Oscars.
Every show does trivia in some form or another. Any great game show on TV (past or present) uses trivia as a foundation to entertain. It’s how you do the trivia that engages the audience. The manner in which it’s framed and presented is what resonates (which is why Jeopardy is different from NBC’s The Wall). The Big Dave Show, B105, Cincinnati, has a daily feature called Chelsie’s “Not As Naughty As It Sounds” trivia question. It’s the pro forma “this percentage of people do this” question yet the frame makes you think it’s dirty (it’s not). Then the cast takes a guess to remove two very obvious answers before they take calls. Go do trivia – it’s quite engaging and forces the audience to get vicarious to the show. But spend more time on how you do it so it cuts through.
There is never a time you air cute kids that you don’t win. Especially with women/moms. On the Fish, U-Turn, and TC Morning Show, WKIS, Miami, we’re looking for new benchmarks that help define cast members. This is a Stage One show and its cast is somewhat undefined to the audience. So creating features which help that are very strategic. U-Turn’s young daughter is terribly gregarious. Once a week, she gives the name of a very well-known movie or two to Charley and asks her what she thinks the movie is all about, based on the name. Listener to the humor and the production value of this feature and you can hear why it sparkles and works for those listening.
One of the big news/pop culture stories in the last week was the scam telemarketers are doing trying to get people they call to say the word “yes” so that that response can be used to answer other questions (like if you want to sign up for a new service). Very topical. The best content can sometimes be the things which are perishable. This was and near every show discussed it or did something with it. Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5 The Arch, St. Louis did something a bit more creative. The Arch is a brand built on a quirky, slightly off-center perspective. We have a morning show that perfectly fits that image. Here’s what they did with it – a tongue-in-cheek “phone call” with someone trying to get the team to say the word “yes” in humorous ways, with none of them successful. This break, because of its interesting execution and fun was way more sticky than just chatting about the topic.
Morning shows sometimes (unknowingly) become silos from the rest of the radio station, forgetting or unenthusiastically getting behind station promotions, events, and contesting. Morning talent are usually the most powerful and credible voice of the brand. You’re the face of what the radio station stands for and have the power to move audiences to care more deeply about what the radio station is doing. So, let’s talk about bacon, specifically Bacon Bash 2017, a station promotion being done by one radio station in the nation’s third largest market. Instead of just reading the liner card to get a check mark next to supporting it, Sherman and Tingle, 97.1 The Drive, Chicago re-lyriced some of the station’s classic rock songs so the audience could hear what they sounded like if they were about bacon. The goal wasn’t to sell more Bacon Bash tickets (although they probably did). The objective was to make everyone listening laugh, and to reinforce the humor of the station and show. This is a goal served…with some bacon.
One of the many things listeners are drawn to in a morning show is their chemistry. You cannot fake chemistry – it’s the foundation for the show’s genuineness and authenticity. Much like the significant relationships you have in your own life, the relationships between cast members is a draw for listeners, too. Many perceive they do not have this in their own lives so they are aspirational and wish to belong to yours. One of the daily benchmarks on The Cruz Show, Power 106, Los Angeles, is R U Down, a prank one listener plays on a friend with the show as the conduit, to see if they’ll consent to doing something outrageous for them. Here’s one where the show pranked a new co-worker. Multiple cast members, as well as PD Jimmy Steal, played a role in this. It’s the chemistry you hear which is the element that makes listeners feel comfortable and like they belong in your the family.
Strategic character develop is always a critical effort for any show. Part of the foundation for any successful program is how well the audience knows you. Which compels a certain authenticity and vulnerability. Oftentimes, character development is accomplished by the stories you tell about yourself that give the audience a peek into your life so they can connect with you. Other times, it’s your honest take on the topics of the day that inform them who you are. On Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5 The Arch, St. Louis, Brando interviewed his cute daughter Amelia, asking her questions about…him. Thus positioning him thru her eyes. This is strategic character development done another way.
There is great character development when a cast member puts their parent on the show. Immediately, you become their kid (not a DJ or “radio personality”) because of the conversation. Always wanting to show his mischievous side, TJ from The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston decided to send something inappropriate to his mother through Amazon. Ever the craftsman, TJ understands what elements need to be in place to create compelling audio and a conversation with conflict that can be aired so the listener not only feels a part of the scenario, but is entertained in the process, wanting to hear how it will end. Listen to not only what TJ concocts, but how he presents this. The thesis of the conflict appears in the first 20 seconds of the break to hook you (the audience knows everything in the set up so they only need to focus on his mother’s reactions), the approach is novel and unique, you can relate to it, you want to know how it will be resolved, and how TJ uses FaceTime audio to advance the narrative.
Music-based features resonate with listeners. Which is why Rob and Joss, Froggy 92.9, Santa Rosa, CA do a weekly feature called “Write a Song Wednesday”. They choose a topic (in this case Star Wars) and tap into it comedically by asking listeners to suggest lines for the song. A local musician then puts together a short tune using listener’s funny suggestions. The nice addition to the feature, considering it was Christmas-time, was that the team decided to parody “Santa Baby” and make a song called “Vader Baby”. These songs are always short (60-75 seconds), have a listener component to them, and work to a goal of creating some fun.