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.
One very critical element to crafting a successful break is to engage elements in story-telling where the listener feels like they were there when it’s told. Stacey K & Jonah, Hot 101.7, Santa Rosa, CA recently heard that a salesperson at the radio station was on the phone with a worker at a local jewelry store as it was being robbed. They had two options: tell the sales person’s story based on what they heard. Or get the sales person to come on and gather the details by asking the right questions. Having the person on repositions the story in the first person and is much more emotional where all the talent had to do is ask the right questions to probe the story and react naturally.
We’ve all seen Jimmy Kimmel’s “Mean Tweets” bit. This is where celebrities read mean tweets about themselves on camera. Enter Ryan and Shannon, KS95, Minneapolis who do an occasional take-off on this with an added twist. Shannon’s father reads them to Ryan! You can certainly “borrow” a bit from a late night show. As long as you note it to the audience, it won’t matter. All the audience cares about when they’re listening is if it’s fun. They have no intellectual ability in the morning (or at any other time really) to process that it’s been done by a late night comedian and thus, isn’t as entertaining.
One of the primary objectives in the stories a morning show shares with its listeners is to communicate that those in the cast are just like the audience. Listeners must see themselves in the things that are shared by the on-air team. Doing so, especially in a fun way, communicates honesty, authenticity, and relatability. These are three very important images in developing a bond with those tuning in. When you meet people who say they feel like they know you, you’ve connected very powerfully with them. Here’s a story told by Ryno and Tracy, KYGO, Denver, about the office holiday party and the way in which Tracy left the party, all designed to force those images while entertaining the audience in the process.
Dave and Veronica, WQYK, Tampa were born and raised in the community and, as a morning show, are uber local. This image has contributed to their incredible success in the county war in the market. Part of that win has been doing ideas which only people who live in town understand. Hence, Pen of the Day. An irregular feature where they ask businesses to mail them a company pen and, with a quirky production value which signals tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek, they highlight a local business. You stand out by the inventive ideas you do to drive an image. These two examples do that.
Once around the holidays, it’s an unspoken truth that people at work show up just to show up. They just don’t care about work. John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego tested this theory last week, believing that many of the sales people at the station had really stopped working the previous week. In this fun break, they talked to sales folks to gauge their interest for work, disguised their voices, then brought their very fun sales manager in to hear the audio. Great, memorable radio is about connecting with the audience and entertaining them with something your competitors didn’t think to do. This audio is a terrific example of that.
Relationships are the most universal topic choice a show can make. Tell a story to the audience about relationships and they’ll tend to lean forward, especially if there is conflict and humor in the story. Jody, Rebekah, and David, KLUV, Dallas talked about things bosses should never say to their employees. This topic is even more universal because it’s about one of those people listeners love to hate, their employer. Here’s a simple, yet very fun and effective break, with listeners telling the absurd things their bosses said to them.
A few weeks ago when the midterm elections were topic #1, Stacey K and Jonah, HOT 101.7, Santa Rosa, CA added their twist to the topic when each did a negative ad on the other. They figured out how to take the boring, polarizing topic of politics and the election and make it fun. In this break, we not only get a feel for Jonah’s sense of humor in his ad about Stacey, but he was smart and preserved the first airing of it as the first time Stacey would hear it, too, allowing for a natural reaction. This is terrific character development for both, as we learn about Stacey and get a vibe for their chemistry.
There’s the adage that the only interviews which don’t work on the radio are the ones that suck. Last week were midterm elections and listeners had no desire to hear talking points about boring issues from candidates. Until you get to Karlson and McKenzie, WZLX, Boston, who interviewed a candidate for governor (who won). Listen to the questions they ask. They are neither political (where do you stand on…) nor standard (boxer or briefs…). They ask questions which let us get to know the candidate as a person yet are exceptionally off-kilter to elicit from the candidate both his humanity and laughter.
Doing fun things with the topics of the day creates a wonderful experience for listeners that compels them to laugh and return to the show. PPM is a measure of experiences and here’s one that sets the audience up for another occasion of listening. John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego, know putting cute kids on the show works in their efforts to attract adult women to their program. In “Name that Halloween Candy” they had a young girl read (struggle actually) the ingredients of a Halloween candy with a listener having to guess the candy. This works on multiple levels in their efforts to give the audience a good time and connect with their content.
To thrive, personality shows must affirm images. The four critical images are those of humor, authenticity, innovation, and relevance. Here’s a terrific break from Dave and Veronica, WQYK, Tampa, which tackles all four, and very successfully. Dave showed up at a town hall meeting with the mayor of St. Petersburg. Going last, he asked the mayor, unexpectedly, to read the Vincent Price poem at the end of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. This took both the mayor and the room (who were complaining about red lights and poor roads) totally by surprise. The mayor, seeing the opportunity, did it, with all having had a good time. There was danger involved in how Dave set this up, as he thought he’d get kicked out of the room. But the exact opposite happened and the show got a great break, loaded with the four images noted above, producing an experience for those listening that was exceptional satisfying.