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.
What’s it like when you tell your five-year old son to “man up” and take control of Mother’s Day? That’s what Sean Henry, host of Sean and Michelle, B103, Rockford, IL, did with his son, Declan. Seems like Sean wanted to teach his kid how to start making big decisions about what he’d get his mom for the holiday. So, he charged Declan with coming up with one new thing to get his mother each day during the week. This break is strategic because it’s very real, plays off a current topic, is highly personal, and I leave getting a true sense of Sean as a father. There is not a mom in the audience who isn’t stopping and listening to this break loving how this relationship is playing out on the air.
The conventional wisdom for almost every morning show, especially in this cycle, is that you cannot even touch politics. This is a no-win, totally polarizing place to go. It is if it’s issue-oriented or you talk good or bad about a candidate or issue. How about if you choose the merchandise the candidates try to sell to raise money and do it in a fun way? Allan and Ashley, Warm 106.9, Seattle did just that. Listen to this easy game. One that can be played vicariously by people driving to work in their cars, with them never touching that political rail in a way that gets them in trouble with the audience. This comes from brainstorming and a desire to create fun.
What is the purpose of a strategic promo aired outside of the show? There are two to choose from: promote the signature feature of the show so you get known for doing it. Signature, unique, fun benchmarks are critical to defining a show’s brand – they are always payoffs so pushing audience there helps you. The other purpose is to prove how in the moment and fun you are. This promo for The Big Dave Show, B105, Cincinnati proves the latter. All weekend, those who hear it know the show is about Mother’s Day during the weekend we celebrate it and fun. Many promos push audience to the next show by telling them what is coming up – these are way less effective because you can’t feel those promos. But those which have clips of features or breaks that land on a punchline you can feel, thus defining the show to the audience.
There is no better character development then when you put relatives on, participating in a story about that cast member who might have a dilemma the audience can relate to and walk away having an opinion on. Lisa Dent from Lisa and Ray, WUSN, Chicago is about to get married again. Hence the “can she wear white” controversy. Lisa had heard a relative said she couldn’t. So, the show talked about this (highly relatable) and then they got her sister on to participate in the conversation to find out the real deal. When you use relatives to advance a story line, you get new energy and a fresh level of conflict to hook the audience and move them into position to have an opinion, which makes the break very real and very sticky.
We always talk about character development on shows – there are effective and ineffective character development stories to tell. An example of bad is the show I heard who asked listeners to guess their favorite flavor of jellybeans. This is ineffective because it isn’t a story nor is it a macro attribute other listeners would truly identify with. An effective and positive example is what was done by Bud and Broadway, WIL, St. Louis. Bud’s mother is a character. When she’s on, he turns into her son. Here’s her take on Facebook thru a story about a guy who tried to scam her. Bud’s mom was nothing more than herself, and the team was smart to let her tell her story, laughing throughout, prodding her to give more detail. The average listener identified with the story (we all have parents struggling with Facebook) and are drawn to her honesty and humor.
Jonah, on Stacey K and Jonah, HOT 101.7, Santa Rosa, CA engaged the audience in the tacos verses burritos battle. This was only the portal to get to Jonah’s true feelings: Fuck Tacos. He hates them. The frame is so bold that it grabs your attention. Instead of opening the phones to see if listeners prefer tacos over burritos (typical standard fare), Jonah went around the building and said nothing more than, “Fuck tacos,” to his co-workers to see how they’d react. This was a great way to grab the audience in a bold way and get an immediate and bolder reaction from those he was talking to.
Morning shows almost always take on the personality of the anchor. The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston is a great example of this. Silly, weird (in a good way), quirky. That’s TJ. Loren and Producer Matt compliment TJ’s personality perfectly. Case-in-point is something TJ had done on the street called “Touch Producer Matt’s Ball Sack”. They put two tennis balls into a sack and then Matt asked guys if they’d touch his ball sack, before showing it to them, just to see how they’d react. The TJ Show wins in Boston because it’s different from any show you’ve ever heard. That it’s fresh, different, and really funny crafts a position for them. The content they choose, and more importantly how they do it, is very distinctive and memorable. This break is a prime example of thi
Here’s an odd concept: take a conservative talk show host and help the audience see how fun he is. That’s what we’re doing on Daybreak with Drew Steele on FOX 92.5, Ft. Myers, FL. The conservative talk show landscape is very cluttered with angry hosts pounding the table on issues. Drew is different. He has total knowledge and absolute formed conservative opinions of the topics of the day. But he showcases them through his sense of humor. Conflict creates entertainment and there are times Drew gets calls from people he deems off-point or odd. That’s when he takes a respite from the caller to “gather himself”. Here’s an example – imagine as you listen to this the reaction from people tuning in. They’re laughing, along with Drew, and then are more open to his opinion. People want to laugh on their way to work, which is why this approach so fits his morning show.
Before he “suspended” his campaign, Marco Rubio flirted with being a comedian by insulting the master of insults, Donald Trump. A critical part of any personality-driven show is placing Easter eggs in the program. These are little, unexpected (but planned) moments that keep those listening intrigued and paying attention. Two Guys Named Chris, Rock 92, Greensboro, NC get this concept and excel at it. Chatting about Rubio and wondering out loud if he had hired a joke writer, they magically moments later heard from the Florida senator, who regaled them with some of the one-liners recently written for his stump speech. This was just before Rubio bailed from the race so it was in the moment. Everyone knows this is a farce, which makes it even better. Shows must have these little unpredictable moments built in to keep fans laughing and create an impression of unpredictability. Enjoy the break with how they introduced the topic and walked to the moment when “Rubio” called in.
So Hillary Clinton agrees to come on your show to look for votes, considering your state’s primary is that day. Great score, right? If you’re Mojo in the Morning, Channel 95.5, Detroit, you know that just getting her isn’t enough. First the question of what you’ll talk with her about (don’t do policy…it’s not your brand and something everyone else would do). Then ask: what can we do with our one shot at a potential presidential candidate no one else will do. What can we weave into this interview that’ll entertain our audience (and drive the PD of our competitor crazy because we thought of it)? Enter Eric Harthen, who surprises Hillary with his imitations of Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. Everyone is in on the joke dso it doesn’t come off as fake. Listen as the show changes Hillary the Politician to Hillary the Human Being. If you were a listener and heard this break, would you leave talking about it? You bet you would. Audio of the full break is below, as well as video of Eric doing his voices during the interview.