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 works in today’s radio is telling stories and being real. Wacky radio bits are way less effective than ever. What’s it like when two admitted shop-o-holics enable each other on a shopping spree while in New York? David, Sue, and Kendra, Magic 106.7, Boston have terrific chemistry as a team – you can feel that as you listen to this break below. Sue and Kendra, super shoppers, went to New York City for a station function and happened upon a store they like mere moments before they were to be at a meeting. Not ones to pass up that chance, they went in and shopped like crazy. What stands out in this break, besides the fun vibe, is that the story has tons of details for David to poke around about as they tell him what they did. Relatable to many women, this story is universal because its thesis and humor transcend age and gender appeal. They’re almost giddy with what they got away with. They let David in on the shenanigans and played with each other with a great self-deprecating sense of humor. This is a great break about real life – a well told story with its colorful facts – to connect with and entertain listeners who were tuned in at that time.
A morning show recently suggested they don’t do interviews because interviews don’t work in PPM. That’s an absolute to me so I challenged them. Bad interviews don’t work as I’ve written on these pages. Enter Hawkeye and Katelyn, KSCS, Dallas who presented the perfect opportunity to disprove that theory. The show was just a few weeks away from Katelyn’s wedding. So, we decided to do some character development around that fact. Hawkeye gathered as many artist interviews as he could (the list is a who’s who: Dan and Shay, Garth, Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean, Kelsey Ballerini to name a few). Along with a quick interview, he then pitched at each (without them knowing it was coming) that he would give them $750 if they would perform at Katelyn’s wedding. This would be his gift to her. We wanted to hear how the artists reacted the offer. As you’d expect, every artist turned him down. The fun came in listeners anticipating that moment. The discomfort, and its subsequent humor, turned this from a regular Q&A into something both fun and strategic for character development. Here is a recap break the show did on Katelyn’s first day back after the weekend ceremony. They added Hawkeye’s voided check done throughout as a visual for social media, which you can see here.
When you’re out and have a local experience, it always helps in the telling of your story when you gather audio from those who are having fun with you. Bryan Lord from Two Men and a Mom, WRAL-FM, Raleigh went to see the “It” sequel the weekend it was released. His impetus landed on two fronts: it was a Hot Topic and he has interest in the movie. Knowing that fewer people would see the movie than not, Bryan looked for audio from others there to help him tell his story on Monday morning – and do so in a way for the vast majority of the audience who hadn’t seen the movie but are aware of the franchise. He had to look no further than a fellow movie-goer who hated it, didn’t think it was close to the book, and wanted her money back as she left the theater. Many people would just note this and tell this story. Bryan talked with her and got all that passion on their show, making me feel like I was in the theater lobby with him. He also broadened the topic, assuring that I didn’t have to see the movie (or even know much about it) to follow along and be entertained by the break
If Dancing With the Stars offered you Sean Spicer for an interview, would you take it? Or, because he’s politics and associated with the president, would you turn it down? If you took it, what would you ask him? Great shows are in the moment – they do content that two weeks from now feels stale. Sean Spicer and Dancing With the Stars are “the moment”. Christine and Salt, 96.5 TIC-FM, Hartford were offered the interview and accepted. Their first question was asking if he knows how to spell “impeachment”, allowing Spicer to show his sense of humor. They then explored his job, if he’d ever met Melissa McCarthy who played him on Saturday Night Live, and then the outrageous outfits they’re making him wear on the show. The best part of all of this is that they leaned into the interview and saw its potential to grab the audience, instead of being worried about how it could harm them. Be about “the now” with your show – know the big topics and what your take is on them to do the most relevant, contemporary program. All the media around that you compete with are about what’s going on right now in the news and pop culture – and while some judgement will need to be used (not everything fits), talk through how you might do something so you stand out in the marketplace.
We consumers of audio love destinations and payoffs. Each break is kinda like inviting listeners to hop in a car with you. They are more inclined to jump in if they know where you’re going. Headed to go wait on line at the DMV? Nope, not hopping in that car. Going to get ice cream? Yup, let’s do this! One of the harder parts of a break is figuring out where you want to take a story – asking what the payoff will be if the audience sticks around for a couple of minutes. The Josie Dye Show, Indie 88, Toronto works hard on destinations for their breaks so the show isn’t just conversation. Matt Hart heard a thud against his window while at home. Going outside to figure out what happened, he discovered a bird had flown into his window and died. Not a bad story to tell the audience – it happens to all of us (note the conversation around the story makes it funny). Then the payoff. Matt calls city services (311) to ask if he can keep and cook the bird (they’re there to answer any question a Toronto resident has). The fun part is that the woman who answered took him seriously, even putting him on hold to find out. Destinations and payoffs in content breaks – they’re required if you want the audience to take the car ride.
It’s September, the NFL season is back, and that means there is no bigger topic in Boston than the New England Patriots. Specifically, there is no bigger star in that city than Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback. Let’s prove to you the power of story-telling. The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston, on the eve of the team’s home opener, did a new feature called Tommy Tales. Producer Matt on the show had met Tom Brady and told his story (he is a huge Brady fan so you feel his passion) to kick things off. The team then opened the phones all morning for listeners to tell their stories about meeting Tom Brady, too. Stories are how we connect as human beings (you tell yours, I tell mine, and we connect). Great stories have beginnings and endings (payoffs) with delightful details in the middle that make those hearing them lean in. Here is a compilation of great Tommy Tales that TJ and his great team aired throughout the morning. Hear not only the energy of those telling them (it’s as though they all happened yesterday to these people because they were so memorable), but also make note of how you lean in to hear all the twists and turns, as well. Tell stories to win and you will win big.
Break structure is so important in show prep. With listeners decreasing attention spans, they evaluate a break’s worth in just a few seconds. They come for content. So, the longer you take to get to that, the greater peril you face in losing them mentally or worse, to another entertainment choice. Relating to the content is critical, too, as are designed moments in each breaks execution to re-grap the attention of fans who might lose interest. Hawkeye and Connected K, KSCS, Dallas did a break about technology – quite relatable to anyone. Listen to the break below and pay close attention to not just the content material, but how this break was designed. Hawkeye starts the break without all the pablum many do (call letters, weather, telling the audience about an appearance or promotion – all items which delay the content). He starts in the first few seconds with a question to Connected K. He’s actually asking the audience the same question so they are engaged. After that brief conversation, he pivots to talking about technology and throughout the break, uses audio throughout to prevent those who might get less interested from leaving the show. This is, at its core, a break about technology designed to be a conversation between the two hosts (good). It was done in a way to keep those vibing with the conversation leaning in and is well done as a result of that prep.
What you do on the weekend is potentially relatable and interesting to the audience. Mostly because it’s during the weekend that you do regular stuff just like listeners. Sometimes how you frame these stories is what draws listeners closer. Great content and story-telling alone don’t always make the perfect combo (sometimes they do, too). How you structure the break can provide hooks to intrigue your fans. Here’s a break done by The Ty Bentli Show, NASH-FM, Nashville centered around Bryan the Web Guy’s weekend. Bryan did something atypical to his character – he took a champagne bubble bath. Instead of just telling the story (good), they asked the audience to guess what he did forcing calls and guesses into the start of the break to add energy. That intrigue factor forced the passive audience (those just there to be entertained) to lean in to hear what he did. It was so out-of-character for Bryan, that it became a fun story that highlighted the cast’s chemistry as they played around and gave him grief about it.
There are simple ways to take the topic of sports and broaden it out to make it become a topic about relationships with a sports theme. With our entering football season, you might find natural team allegiances are split in relationships. Look for those inside a marriage and do a Spousal Sports Bet. This is where he supports one team and she supports another (and hopefully his rival). On the eve of that game, get both people in the relationship on and get them to make an odd bet (he wins: he doesn’t have to clean the kitchen for a week after dinner, she wins: he gives her two spa treatments). Focusing on the relationship allows you to talk about the game not from a position of X’s and O’s, but from how it impacts their relationship, which is quite relatable to everyone in your audience. And yes, if you want to do this with your relationship it would be character development, but make sure you choose fun listeners, too, which will give you more to play with. We did this at Koz and Jen, WTMX (101.9 The Mix), Chicago so you can hear the fun here.
There are some standard features most shows do that target female listeners (i.e. Teacher of the Week, etc.). Two Men and a Mom, WRAL-FM, Raleigh developed something different – a feature that celebrates the average listener and the challenges she has in her quest to get stuff done in her life. Each of us has the vibe of just trying to make it through each day. In the feature Lady Boss, the show seeks to do nothing more than highlight and celebrate regular female listeners who quietly accomplish successfully tackling their lives. There is nothing here that’s heroic or out of the ordinary (like most features of this nature). In this version posted below, they celebrate a female listener who figures out how to successfully be a mom to seven kids, We get relatable stories for other mothers to connect with and the show leverages their natural curiosity to poke around this listener’s story to prop her up as a Lady Boss.