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.
You want to connect with your demo? Understand what their life is like day-to-day. These are conversations you should also be having in your prep sessions – even asking people in the building who are the demo about the things going on in their lives to broaden the conversation. Karson and Kennedy, MIX 104.1, Boston, heard about a local woman who was going on strike in her home because her kids and husband did nothing around the house. The easy part is getting her on for an interview. Elevate the creative by committing to checking on her regularly throughout the strike for support and then bringing the narrative arc to a conclusion for her and the audience by brokering a peace accord. One of the check-ins is below. Every female listening to this show is nodding in agreement and laughing along with the storyline, forging yet another connection point for the talent with the demo.
When telling a personal experience story, consider in prep a new question that will improve the energy of the break by asking, if the story includes other people, if having them tell it with you makes it more whole. Brando, on Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5, The Arch, St. Louis, had an exchange with his young son and wife which resulted in the kid commenting on who the boss was in the family. Had the team just allowed Brando to tell the audience everything, including what his son and wife said, it would have been somewhat one-dimensional, devoid of a certain authenticity and energy as he was speaking for the other people in the story. Not here. The team appropriately had Brando’s son and wife on-the-air to recount their parts, thus making the story more organic and fun, creating great dimension to keep the audience engaged throughout.
You hear it every election cycle: celebrities who are moving to Canada if a certain presidential candidate wins. Drew Steele, who hosts Daybreak on FOX News 92.5, Ft. Myers, FL does regular updates of stars making the pledge, along with playing the Canadian National Anthem. Our plot is conservative politics on Daybreak, yet we understand no one wants to wake up to the typical anger and bombast the genre is known for. When people wake up they want to be put in good moods. So, we handle things like this from a position of humor and silliness. A break like this completely fits what the show is about, yet it allows Drew to showcase his perspective and sense of humor.
This one falls in the category of “please don’t tell me you can’t be local and you can’t be fun in under 2:30”!! Oftentimes shows believe the more time they have in the break, the better it’ll be. Rob and Joss, Froggy 92.9, Santa Rosa, CA prove otherwise. As a yearly feature at the beginning of the school year in each September, Rob chooses one daily school district’s lunch offering and sings the menu for the audience. With a game plan on how we’ll entertain, you can structure a break efficiently so you don’t waste listeners’ time and can get to the payoff quickly (listeners require payoffs). We do this as a seasonal feature each year on the show and bounce it around the clock so all the audiences hear at least one. What’s important is to connect with the audience in the content you choose, create entertainment from it so those who don’t care are having a good time, and do it quickly to score the most points. This does that.
Talent get endorsement fees and radio stations charge a higher rate for live spots because personalities have credibility. The big question on live reads, though, is do you deliver the live read like a commercial or is it conversational and presented as content? Here is a very unique live read from Bud and Broadway, WIL, St. Louis which elevates one endorsement spot. They recorded a live read for The Good Feet Store. Only problem was that Broadway hit the wrong button and it slowed the audio down just enough for them to sound drunk. Instead of re-recording it, they aired it. A few things happen here: they make fun of themselves (very good) and, because the read is so funny, the commercial message for the client cuts through even more. Not every client would let you do this, but presenting a spot for a client the way they did effectively turned it into fun content.
What to do when your two-year old has constant meltdowns and you are still a fairly new show to the market and need to do some positive character development? If you’re The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston, you do “Tantrum Tuesday”. Each Tuesday, TJ (whose character includes being the father of a young child) airs the audio of his daughter having a tantrum. Women connect with and have empathy for these kinds of characters on a show. What’s critical to the win in this break is how TJ handles things. With a quirky production value so it stands out, TJ tries to reason with his kid as an adult. You laugh as you eavesdrop on this conversation between father and daughter and walk away with two important strategic messages about the program: that TJ is just like you if you have kids and the show can create fun with real life stuff as it positions the competition as old(er).
Proving that absolutely no one knows who the vice presidential candidates are, The Big Dave Show, B105, Cincinnati set out to have some fun with a street game called “TV or VP?” Dave was armed with a list of men who’ve served as vice presidents for our great country, and another list of famous TV characters. You have to love this intersection of politics and pop culture. It’s an easy way to do political humor without every being political and polarizing. What aides the fun factor of this audio is that Dave recorded all of these at a local concert, just before the show. The benefit in doing this is that everyone he talked to was in a good mood because of the concert, thus guaranteeing he’d have usable audio for the show.
The challenge in breaks is to reach certain benchmarks: are we in the cycle for pop culture (because we live in this very clickable world), are we being honest and real with the audience (because they can smell a phony a mile away), are we having fun (listeners want to have a good time). Back during the GOP convention when everyone was talking about Melania Trump, Michele Obama, and Hillary Clinton, The Cruz Show, Power 106, Los Angeles, played the game “F, Marry, Kill” where Cruz went around the room asking each cast member who of that trio they’d sleep with, get hitched to, or off. Everyone assigned something different to each person (conflict = comedy). What hooks the audience is the edgy question – they not only are getting to know the cast by how they answer, they’re answering it in their heads, too.
What’s it like for a mother to leave her kid for the very first time, and leave the kid with the father? Karson and Kennedy, MIX 104.1, Boston explored the topic. Karson’s wife, Lana, was going out of town for the very first time for a girls weekend after their young son, Barrett, was born. How would Karson “perform” as a father, alone, for the very first time? Lana puts Karson on notice in several areas: how the kid will be dressed, getting him a haircut, having a poker night at the house around their son. Radio is really easy – tell me a story (Lana leaves town for the first time), then make it come alive in the details so conflict appears, producing a highly relatable dialogue affording the best chance for natural humor. No bit, just real life talk. The bonus and what makes this sparkle, is getting Lana on to add perspective as the mom and instigate more conflict so this really shines, keeping the attention of listeners throughout.
With the passing this week of my very good friend, Dave McKay, from Dave and Veronica, WQYK, Tampa, I wanted to honor him with our weekly audio post of an all-time favorite. I loved Dave because he had the biggest heart and always (!) put everyone of us in the team over himself. Dave was an immensely hard worker, very creative, and never adverse to getting stuff done. The number of contacts he had in his cell always astounded me – we’d come up with an idea for a local celebrity and Dave would make the call to make it happen. There are a slew of segments I could post to celebrate Dave, but this is one of my all-time favorites. Not only for its creativity, but for the sheer balls it took to pull off. We hatched an idea to get a local mayor to do the Vincent Price poem at the end of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” as a Halloween bit. Dave shows up unannounced at a Meet the Mayor Town Hall and convinces a handler to let him ask his question last. What happens is one of the most fun things we ever did – it’s edge of your seat silliness as listeners wait to hear how the mayor will react and if Dave will get thrown out. I’ve included other breaks Dave did which I believe are fun, innovative, and memorable so you can hear his genius and the talent of his team (Pen of the Day, interview with Garth Brooks,and his mom’s outgoing voicemail). Dave McKay had one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever known – to his listeners, coworkers, teammates, and his community. There was never a time after we stopped working together when we talked that he didn’t thank me for all I did for him. I always thanked him back, because he made me a better person and a better talent coach. I’ll miss that dude. Hope you enjoy these.