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.
There are ways of doing political content without doing politics. You just have to figure out how to insert pop culture into it. Vice President Mike Pence was coming to town to do a few speeches and fundraise. Mark and NeanderPaul, KSLX, Phoenix decided to test listeners’ knowledge by answering the phones (these were recorded) and asking if the caller knew the VP’s name. No one did. Then, to take things a step further, they asked callers a different set of questions – like “who was Fonzie’s girlfriend on Happy Days” (all things from our childhood we’ve held on to forever). As you would guess, the listeners knocked every one of those questions out of the park. They openly say on the show they do not do politics. But here’s one way they did – by diverting the audience’s attention into pop culture to help create the humor. Here are the two breaks where they did both.
A simple technique to create some fun is to marry the opposite of a topic to create some humorous tension. It seems like everyone is into Game of Thrones (its final season premieres on HBO in April). It’s quite easy to convince yourself that everyone watches and loves the show, which is untrue. When you look at the actual numbers, close to 98% of America doesn’t watch it. The threshold for content choice is if the audience is aware of it, and this topic passes that test. Now marry the opposite of that conventional wisdom and you have a relatable break done in a fun way. John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego approached people who know about the show, but do watch it, and asked them to describe the program, using their limited knowledge of its plot and characters. They then aired the most fun replies and talked around it with cast members on their show who know all and are deeply passionate about the program.
No doubt an emphasis at every radio show is social media engagement. This requires us to not only share certain audio segments of the show on our social channels, but to develop unique content there, too. The Big Dave Show, B105, Cincinnati do fun videos, generally centered around something local, that engage the audience. They recently saw a news report about a local guy who spray painted orange circles around potholes so approaching motorists could steer clear of them. They went out with the guy and helped him. Local, fun, and highly relatable after the Cincinnati winter. They wrap the video up with info where people can report potholes to have them fixed. While they did use some of this audio on their show to push people to Facebook, the content mostly lived on social media and has been viewed over 14,000 times so listeners who engage them there leave the video understanding that they live in town and their sense of humor. View the Pothole Tagging video here.
One of the more resonate qualities of the great show Mark and NeanderPaul, KSLX Phoenix is the guys reflect the values of the target audience (adult men). We regularly joke that we’re all “men of a certain age and part of the ‘get off my lawn’ demo.” They decided to take on the topic of rentable scooters now being seen in many major cities, and what a nuisance they’ve become. Specifically, a story about the first DUI on one. You can just chat about a story, or you can find someone with a truer connection to it. In this simple, relatable break that connects the show to the audience by their shared view to the topic, the team talks with an emergency room doctor who has first-hand knowledge of and stories to tell about scooter accidents. What makes this short break work is the doctor’s take and perspective on the topic, with the team asking the next natural question, which displays their curiosity and allows for all to showcase their most natural sense of humor. It’s having the doctor on that draws listeners in and keeps their attention.
Creating discomfort when doing content is one way to make the break memorable. Adding in sex or nudity also gets the attention of the audience (if that tactic fits your brand). As a weekly Valentine’s Day feature a few weeks ago, The Josie Dye Show, Indie 88, Toronto gave prizes to listeners who’d allow them to conference in their parents to ask where they first had sex when they met. The thesis generates intrigue. But the show knew it couldn’t ask listeners to go there (calling their parents publicly to ask that question) unless they were willing to do it, too. So, Josie called her mom to ask the big question, generating not only a very human reaction, but wonderful character development for her. From that starting point, the listeners were in on the task, and the show was off to the races to create a memorable Valentine’s Day idea that made listeners lean forward when they did it. Here are two breaks of Josie calling her mom and a listener following suit.
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.