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.
Here’s a fun new feature you can do on Mondays that plays off your weekend. Dana and Jayson, WBLI, Long Island, were recapping their weekend on a recent Monday show. Jayson took the position that he had an incredibly lame weekend and seemed disturbed by it. They were really smart by broadening it out to include listeners, trying to “out lame” Jayson with the simple question: Who had a more lame weekend than Jayson? Great radio shows work when they tell stories. Stories have details and twists-and-turns that capture the audience. Jayson is presented as a very regular guy to the audience in this conversation, also allowing both of them to showcase their senses of humor very authentically. The premise is fun (and atypical) as are hearing the audience tell stories, too, turning them into the stars of the program.
There are few stations and shows that can openly make fun of Donald Trump without retribution from its audience or Trump’s loudest supporters. The Cruz Show, Power 106, Los Angeles is one. With its intensely loyal Hispanic base, the show can consistently go there, with the audience identifying with their point-of-view all the way. Once laughter is included, and we figure out how to entertain around the topic, it makes it even better. They asked the audience the simple question, “I’d rather (blank) than see Donald Trump become president.” This works because it’s a Hot Topic with an interesting take – every answer is different so the bit doesn’t become stagnant. The execution was even better – with them culling answers from people on the street and on the phones – two approaches to make it sparkle.
Playing on the heels of last week’s audio, here’s another music-based feature to entertain the audience. What happens when you fuse country lyrics with a hip hop (rap) style? Well, if you’re Ryno and Tracy, KYGO, Denver, you get “crap”. Here’s a fun game where Tracy does the lyrics of a hit country song in a hip hop style. First listener to guess artist and title wins. Games work because if done well, they’re vicarious. They win even bigger if those playing along in cars are laughing and having a good time. What’s really important is to not focus on what you have to give out, but figure out how to give the prize out in a way that includes those who want to call to win (the smaller group) and those who listen to play along (the way larger group). The big success happens when those playing along laugh.
Music-centered ideas and features score very well with listeners. Taking one of the main reasons they come to the radio station (your music) and creating something fun around it, really performs well in PPM. Stacey K and Jonah, HOT 101.7, Santa Rosa, CA realized there are similarities in both the titles and hooks of Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home” and Rhianna featuring Drake’s “Work”. So they did the next logical thing, they fused the two songs together. This took lots of work (pun intended) to conceive and edit. The win for the audience is fun for them as they hear the final product.
We preach regularly on this page the necessity for three things to properly define who you are on-the-air: be honest with the audience, be comfortable enough to share your life with listeners, and tell stories. Enter Bud and Broadway, 92.3, WIL, St. Louis who do it effortlessly in this break. You disarm listeners when you are vulnerable. They actually get closer to you the more they know you. Broadway, talking about his relatives, referenced that he has a “white trash division” of his family. It’s a funny characterization that shows his comfort level with listeners. He then goes on to prove it by telling little funny stories that defines who he is, where he comes from, and his ability to poke at himself (and his heritage). As a result, he disarms the audience to do the same (we all have crazy relatives) and they get closer as a result. This is excellent character development.
There has been a slew of OJ Simpson programming on TV in the last few months. Reenactments of the case, ESPN’s five-part documentary on what happened behind the scenes. It’s all very riveting story-telling. That, in itself, is instructional of the power of telling a story in a way that grabs the audience, even if you know the outcome. How better to tie in than by finding someone directly attached to the story and ask the questions you want answers to? Norman Pardo was one of OJ’s agents after his acquittal. Did he think Simpson was guilty? Kyle and Rachel, Radio NOW, Indianapolis, asked Pardo this question, among others, in their interview of him at the height of the shows being on TV. I always ask talent what they did this week that no one else thought to do. This is something that would be on the list.
Here are two examples of taking one Hot Topic and doing two very distinctly different things with it. Having a broad range of creative ideas that resonate and entertain the audience around the highest equity topics of the day is important to keeping your show relatable and accessible. With Father’s Day upon us, Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5 The Arch, St. Louis, did two separate breaks that had a strategic goal of defining a cast member and entertaining the audience. The only parent on the show is Brando. In one break, Brando is “interviewed for the position of father” by one of his kids (questions written by the team). It is so cute and warm, it might melt your heart if you’re a parent. In the other, Spencer talks with his father about their relationship (very touching and intimate), defining him as a son and not as a morning show host. Both are below and both are excellent.
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.