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.
There are many ways to do character development on a show. The primary way is for a cast member to tell a story the audience can see themselves in and relate to. Stories are the absolute best way to define a character because they are powerful and memorable and give the room the best chance to show its organic sense of humor and chemistry as it’s being told. Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5 The Arch, St. Louis, did it in a unique way, defining two cast members in the process, in the break below. Spencer had Brando’s kids interview Ricki to learn more about her. In the process, I get to know Brando and his children and get answers to questions from Ricki about herself and her view of the world. Spencer being the mischievous person he is, wrote a few questions the kids would never think to ask, injecting his sense of humor into the break. All around, this is very effective character development.
Here’s a feature you cannot steal because it’s driven by the personalities of the host and guest. Each week on The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston, TJ talks with his nephew, Judah. The topics are always about life, with TJ needing some piece of advice. Nine-year old Judah is unbelievable cute, exceptionally eloquent, and very logical in his answers, making his innocence ring through. Of all the incredible features this show does, this is the one that scores highest for the audience because it is so novel and entertaining (as we say, “only on TJ”). In our efforts to separate ourselves from the entire market, this weekly bit scores big time. We’re securing each of the four necessary images to win: it’s fun to listen to, very authentic, completely innovative, and highly relatable.
This week’s accolades go to Raina and Matt, Indie 88, Toronto. Their Raptors just got done playing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBC playoffs. Not content to just talk about the game or play TV audio as most shows would (and should), they decided to add something different to the conversation in a produced thing call “LeBron James ‘Secrets'” where they revealed silly secrets about the Cavaliers star player. What makes your breaks memorable and sticky is not just the topic, it’s what you do with it that grabs notice and a deeper attention from those listening. Their series of “Secrets” (several below) highlight their fun sense of humor, are very topical, very local, short, and gives us one more thing on the show (even though short-lived) that our competitors never thought to do.
One more Mother’s Day break that is flawlessly executed. The Cruz Show, Power 106, Los Angeles is right up on Mother’s Day and wrote letters to their moms. These have just the right tone and attitude to create humor. What is perfect about this break is how it’s designed. The very first thing you hear after the song are two cast member’s letters. That the show immediately got into content (before any station business) talked to the widest swath of listeners who want to be entertained. They transition from this to Cruz expounding on his letter, with more detail about something he shared with his father as a kid (you will be shocked) with the cast showing its chemistry as they quiz him for all the details. Station business (what you can win, coming up!) is placed at the end, where the audience is most receptive to the message because they were entertained with a great story, delivered in a fun way.
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.