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 does a typical radio station do for Mother’s Day weekend? They give out flowers or spa certificates to caller ten every hour. The atypical radio station has every daypart co-hosted by the mother of the DJ on the schedule. That’s what the brilliantly programmed Q102, Cincinnati (Patti Marshall, PD!) did last month when faced with doing something special that weekend. One of the many great things about the Q102 brand, built over many years, is its laser focus on the right music, its longtime, highly entertaining Jeff and Jenn morning show, and doing unique things like this to connect with and entertain the audience. Where most stations do standard fare, Q102 has always stood out to do something unique, fun, different, and interesting, which is why it always wins big. Here’s one of the promos they ran that weekend so you can get a sense of what they did and how it sounded.
Sherman and Tingle, WDRV, Chicago couldn’t care less about the Royal Wedding. This doesn’t absolve them from dealing with it – it actually gives them a powerful perspective from which to develop their breaks and humor. There have been times where certain shows or talent will use the “I don’t care about it so I didn’t do anything around it” as a defense to avoid a big topic. That’s not smart (it’s actually lazy!). We never assign perspectives, we just need to identify them to tackle the topic. Add a splash of imagination to your take and you’re off to the races to entertain the audience. These guys imagined what Prince William’s first toast of the happy couple would sound like at the reception. Behold a perfect break – it’s around a big topic of the day, it’s foundation is the team’s take, it’s funny, it’s short, and it’s inventive.
The highlight of the week could very well have been the narrative arc done by Two Men and a Mom, WRAL-FM, Raleigh around Bryan’s upcoming July wedding. The show hatched the arc around the thesis that Bryan’s fiance had invited an extra bridesmaid so he needed an additional groomsman. That’s when it became fun. He decided to write a “recruiting” letter to Duke’s Coach K (seen here), read it on the air, and published it to social media making the ask with a Friday, 8:15 deadline. They worked this arc for two days, waiting to hear from Coach K on his decision. Friday at 8:15 arrives and they get their answer if the iconic men’s basketball coach at the famed local university will stand with Bryan during his ceremony. Hear the conclusion of this awesome story arc below that accomplished these things: character development for Bryan, it affirmed innovation because of what they did, was a great example of truly being local, and was very fun to eavesdrop on.
It’s quite clever when a show marries something in pop culture with character development to satisfy the audience’s need to understand the talent as it reflects a topic of the day. Enter Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5 The Arch, St. Louis who did just that with the Kentucky Derby last week. The topic amongst the cast and then with listeners on the phones was for each to share a short highlight of their weekend and then the team assigned you a Kentucky Derby horse name based on the experience. Spencer and his team get so much done in a few short minutes, which requires additional prep because they have very little time to waste. Listen as this is wonderfully set up in the first few seconds with audio of the event, hooking the audience, and then tied that to pop culture to contemporize the show along with short stories from the weekend, all leading to humor.
Radio stations need to do promotions – these large giveaways (usually trips or cash contests) add energy to a radio station and cultivate listening from contest players. Mark and NeanderPaul, KSLX, Phoenix subscribe to the philosophy that while these promotions need to be talked about on their show, that kind of break is only geared at the 2% who care (and will follow or play the game). We need to make a break like that entertaining to the other 98% to help carry listeners thru content that really doesn’t matter to them. The station just started a game centered around classic rock called The A to Z Game. Listen to this break and note what they did in promoting it to make it fun to hear for the larger group, the 98% who’ll never call to win anything from the station.
Much like Steve Harvey does special-themed Family Feuds, it’s totally fine for you to take your tenured, signature features and do something different with them on occasion, too. Koz and Jen, The MIX, Chicago, do the Show Biz Pop Quiz each afternoon as listeners are driving home. This Hollywood trivia game is widely done and immensely popular with an audience because it’s vicarious, easy, and centered around a cast character in efforts to help define them. Here is their 100th episode of the feature. As a special treat for both Jen and the audience, Koz had her play against someone who is 100 years old. This quirky turn is geared at those just tuning in to play along, helping heighten how fun it is for them.
How hard is this? Not very. Tapping into the biggest stories of the day radiates relevancy to the audience. When tragedy happens, shows need to only think – what would Good Morning America or the Today Show do here? Sherman and Tingle, WDRV-FM, Chicago think like that. So the morning after Southwest #1380 is in the news for an engine blowing up at 30,000 feet and an emergency landing happening in Philadelphia, they’re faced with three choices: not have it as content on their show (big mistake), talk about it based on what they saw on TV and read online (just okay), or have someone on who was on the plane when it happened (amazing). No one tells a story better than the person who experienced it. The team got one of the passengers to come on to paint the picture of what it was like. While we won’t give away the secret of how they got her (it’s way easier than you think), these guys did a break no one else in Chicago did, thus winning the moment.
There are multiple ways to tell the audience you’re new to town. The standard way is to ask listeners where to get a great local pizza, etc. That can live for only so long before it becomes one-dimensional. Stacy and Jonah, WIL-FM (New Country 92.3), St. Louis have been in place as the new afternoon show in town for only a few months so we’re now looking for fresh ways to publicly learn the market and have some fun. Stacy’s mom recently visited for the first time. The streets are notoriously hard to say in the market given their French spellings. Which is why they had their longtime traffic guy, Captain Mack, give her the spellings of local roads and Stacy’s mom had to pronounce them. Goals served for being local, saying we’re new to town, and creating some fun.
March Madness is done, but there are a couple of breaks I thought you’d enjoy, both from Two Men and a Mom, WRAL-FM, Raleigh. The first is a simple break where Sarah tells Kyle and Bryan her bracket strategy. She is an NC State alum and knew little else about the teams involved in the tournament. That didn’t prevent her from picking winners, although her logic was odd, in a funny kind of way. The takeaway on this break is that when you are honest with the audience and comfortable to share that you have no idea what you’re doing, a playfulness and organic sense of humor appears. In the second break, the team crowns its winner of their parody, Starch Madness, where they looked for the most popular potato-based food item. After all the voting, the team decides to insert in the break a little unexpected Easter egg by using a personality from their sister TV station, who had an investigative bulletin. Surprises are nice in breaks and this is one of them to capture the imagination of the audience.
A first threshold by which listeners determine if an interview will be worth their time is if they know and like the person being interviewed. For any country audience, Scotty McCreery is on that list – he’s a star to them. Having the number one song in the format at the time of the interview increases the interview’s relevance. His interview with The Big Dave Show, B105, Cincinnati, is a textbook example of how to do an interview for the two groups of people listening: those who like and know Scotty and those who don’t. Instead of a typical interview where the person would come on and be asked about their inspiration for their current project (no one cares), they quickly congratulate him on being number one, note why he wrote the song (because his grandfather passed – they knew this from research) and then talked with Scotty about getting married, the new American Idol, and ran him through a fun quiz to see what he remembered about his time winning the show’s tenth season. All around, this was well thought out and done to make a very accessible five minute interview that was entertaining and engaging for all.