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.
Don’t tell me about what you have to give out – tell me HOW you’re giving it out. A client offered roses for Valentines Day to Two Men and a Mom, WRAL-FM, Raleigh. A good prize for the holiday, right? The win for 100% of the audience comes in how we give them out, because anyone listening when we do is affected by that – that’s how you earn images. which fuels wins. And caller ten won’t cut it. There is an iconic restaurant in Raleigh called the K&W Cafeteria. Those eating there are all over the age of 75. The show’s Bryan Lord, decked out in a tux, decided to become the K&W Casanova, serenading women eating lunch at their tables with a love song for Valentine’s Day, before giving them a rose. Four videos were done the week before for social media (here) with the best audio airing the week of Valentine’s Day. That’s how we gave out the roses – sticky and fun for anyone tuning in at any moment of the show while headed to work.
When you use ancillary characters on a show, naming them in a descriptive way helps the audience understand their purpose or position on your program. The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston regularly uses the other air talent on the radio station as a way to reflect its youth and help promote the other shows. Corrine does middays and she is bold and in charge as an air talent – she has a presence very few miss. She also has a ton of drama in her life, which is great content for any show. So, when she’s used on TJ’s program, they refer to her as Corrine the Hot Mess Express. The descriptor helps the audience understand the kind of content and stories Corrine adds to the breaks when they talk with her. That it’s alliterative helps it being memorable, too. Ultimately, to build personality images, any show is judged based on the connectivity and entertainment value of its personalities and content. Corrine adds in a way that is very positive. That the show refers to her in this way helps, as well. You’ll leave this break remembering Corrine – which is the goal.
What’s the purpose of doing a news feature on your show, and where are the wins? Somewhere in your market is a credible radio news source. Listeners do not come to you for news. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t offer an information segment – the wins come in your conversation around the news items of the day. That dialogue (your take and commentary) defines your character to the audience. Add in, where appropriate, your sense of humor, and now you’re earning an image critical to success. If you’re delivering news as a single monologue (“here’s the latest on what happened”), you’re missing an opportunity to get more done for your show, especially considering if listeners really wanted just information, they’d go to the news/talk station or turn on their TV before leaving the house. Here’s a terrific example of how news should be done on an entertainment-based show by Karson and Kennedy, MIX 104.1, Boston.
Playing the occasional game on a show is a good thing. It’s even better when it has two elements: it’s vicarious (listeners can play along in the car as they’re driving to work) and it’s strategic (its purpose is to have fun, earn another critical image, and/or define the cast). There are many ways a cast can do character development, but the game Truth Be Told, as done by David, Sue, and Kendra, Magic 106.7, Boston, is the cleanest and most efficient we’ve heard. There are a few versions of this game (i.e. Two Lies and a Truth), but listen to how this team executes the game so fans driving (who just woke up and don’t have a great capacity to follow along with deep stories) can easy understand what they’re doing. Each cast member offers a one sentence story to the caller (one sentence is highly digestible), then the listener chooses which story is true (with people in cars doing the same). Then the fuller story is told – defining that cast member, earning the additional image of fun for listeners just tuning in to be put in a good mood.
One of my wishes for all of radio is that we dispense with boring, staged phone topics presented for use by prep services. The best phone topics come from stories the talent tell about their life, before they put the spotlight on the audience by asking them to tell similar stories about themselves. We talk about being relevant and strategic in radio. This approach to topics does a few important things: it defines the talent telling the story because it’s about them (must be relatable), then flips the script by allowing the audience to tell stories just like that to entertain the cast and other listeners. Tim, Claire, and Red, 98.9 The Bull, Seattle executed this perfectly in these two breaks below. Red tells a story about what she’s like shopping online when she is drunk (listen to the chemistry and natural laughter as her team pulls out all the details of the story). Then in the second clip, a listener calls to advance the narrative in their quest to do real life content that is fun to hear.
Who doesn’t live in a neighborhood where you have nicknames for those who live there? Mark and NeanderPaul, KSLX, Phoenix realized in an unplanned content break that everyone does this. Like the one resident of someone’s neighborhood who has been deemed, behind her back, as Amazon Woman. Not due to her size, but because UPS pulls up everyday and offloads several packages from Amazon to her home. This has become a weekly feature on their program where listeners call and share the nicknames of neighborhood residents, and then the reason they were given them. The very best content is real life stuff, culled not only from the experiences the cast and listeners have, but the kind of content the average listener might hear and say, “yea, me, too.” That’s content that is relatable and helps the show remind the audience that they are just like them.
We all understand the value of story-telling to engage listeners. Stories are important to define the show and its cast and have elements inside that draw listeners in. What is a great song, if it isn’t a story, right? There was a local Kane Brown concert in St. Louis and something magical happened – a young girl held up a sign asking if he’d hug her. That’s when Kane Brown said yes and invited the gal on stage. Enter Mason and Remy, New Country 92.3 (WIL), St. Louis who elevated the story-telling by passing the chance to just tell it from what they read online (a pretty standard approach) to getting the young gal and her mother to come on to tell it themselves, heightening the break with truer emotion because the kid and her mom experienced it directly. The team took it one step further by having the mom video their end of the conversation for digital content for Facebook and other social media posts, thus extending this amazing content. The break is below. See the video here.
Phone calls from listeners are standard fare and an easy and effective way to tell stories and create fun, engaging, relatable content. Where do yours come from? Some shows pull their phone topics from prep sheets and then tie their stories into the generic, evergreen topic suggested. A better place, and one that provides terrific character development for you and your team, is from those real time experiences you’re having in your life. Enter Koz and Jen, WTMX (The MIX), Chicago. Jen hosted a baby shower for a relative at her home, where the relative being celebrated was almost two hours late. The twists and turns of this story are most authentic to define Jen. The team then offers up the appropriate topic: what were you (or someone you know) very late for? A listener called to share that he was late to his own wedding, because he was sitting in his car in the parking lot listening to the radio. You’ll never believe what made him stay in the car. Here’s the break – great story telling, terrific fun, with the most appropriate questions and comments from the team to connect with the audience.
What happens when you marry something very relatable with something very odd? Memorable content! Big Dave from The Big Dave Show, B105, Cincinnati, lost his keys. He spent days trying to find them in the house. Listeners attach themselves to the relatable things the talent does – this is why it’s so important to do content that positions you as just like the audience – they wish to be around people just like them. After several days of not being able to locate the keys, the team decided to ask their favorite listener, Scarecrow, what to do. Scarecrow comes on each week to solve listener’s problems. She’s odd (in a good way), fun, and you obviously feel the chemistry between her and the show. Marry the relatable with the quirkiness of this feature, and you have one more thing this show does that no one can steal, making it a true point of differentiation between them and the rest of the market (you should have many of these).
There are two universal topics that always work on any show, regardless of format: relationships and sex talk. A story that caught the attention of Jason and Michelle, FLY 98.5, Ft. Myers, FL was that Playboy.com is being sued by a blind person for discrimination. A gentleman who can’t see is suing them because he can’t enjoy the site. Frivolous and silly, but breaks about sex (as long as they fit your format) always cut through. The team perfectly executes this break by establishing the topic, succinctly framing the drama for those who don’t know, adding in a caller for commentary, then building to an unexpected payoff for the audience – what the porn site would sound like if it had a voice-activated element for those who could not see the pictures. Set up, details, payoff – great breaks execute the Three Act Play, if you will. Breaks need payoffs to keep them memorable and this team put that work in once they found the story for the audience.