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.
Real life is really funny. Relatable stories are fun to hear. That’s proven in this clip from the legendary Scott Shannon, CBS-FM, New York City. Scott knows he’s perceived as a star by the audience (he earned his way there by connecting with and entertaining the audience over the years). That’s why this break about Scott going to lunch is so humorous. Admitting he’s hungry, Scott finds a new restaurant in town which is “just like Chipolte” where you have to get on line and choose the items you want in the meal. Here’s where the fun happens as Scott admits confusion to knowing what all those items are. He said he had to choose between six lettuces – and didn’t even know there were six lettuces. The whole break has wonderful details that paint a great picture and reminds the audience that, while Scott is a star, he’s actually a regular guy like you and me. Don’t underestimate the power of a story like this to grab the audience.
Hooking the audience with a question almost always works to build intrigue to hear a story. Brian Sherman, from Sherman and Tingle, WDRV, Chicago, had a lovely summer vacation, until he got home. That’s when he discovered his air conditioning unit and furnace were completely, totally dead. And that the cost to replace all of it would be $14,000. Brian could have just told the story, which would have been good. But he hooked them by asking the audience what happened that cost him $14,000 at the end of his vacation (there’s your hook and intrigue). After a series of wrong guesses, someone got it right, which is when Brian then told the story. This is brilliantly structured and executed to grab the audience to want to hear the story while including listeners.
There are very few markets where lobster news would be a part of a show’s information segment. But considering it’s a local food in their market, Karson and Kennedy, MIX 104.1, Boston, highlight all news that is lobster-oriented. Lobster ice cream might not make it as a FOX News Alert, but for these guys, it’s something that should be showcased and included in Kate Merrill’s hourly news segment! The most important thing you can do as a show is cultivate an image of fun. In this stressful world, being the respite from the seriousness of the world today, laughter is your best bet. Just reporting the lobster news isn’t enough. In this short part of the newscast, you’ll not only hear the lobster news, but also a silly Letterman-esque jingle that highlights it and makes it even more fun. Go create laughter for the listener and you’ll be doing the one thing listeners want most – escape from the world we know today.
There’s this belief in PPM that interviews don’t work. In reality, crappy interviews don’t work. That’s why Howard Stern’s famous one-hour interviews with near anyone are riveting – because Howard works overtime figuring out what he’ll do in the interview; what he’ll talk about with the subject; and how he’ll create a compelling, fun, interesting, probing conversation. Any idea who David Koechner is? He’s the guy who played Champ opposite Ron Burgundy in one of the funniest movies ever, Anchorman. Koechner was playing the local comedy club when he stopped in for an interview with Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5 The Arch, St. Louis. Knowing the audience would not recognize him by name and that a standard Q&A wouldn’t be enough, they threw Anchorman lines at him to see if he remembered what the character said in the exchange Quirky, different, and fun. If you get interviews, work hard on what you’ll do to draw in people who’ve never heard of your subject – probe, tell stories, and have fun and you’ll be in a good spot.
Phone topics are regular content choices on every morning show. They work because their intent, generally, is to tell stories around a relatable subject. But how do you launch the topic in a way where it doesn’t feel rote or come off as though it came from a prep service? Stacey and Jonah, WIL, St. Louis pay extra attention to how they position even what could be perceived as the most generic of topics. This one is about best concert experiences. Could be ho-hum, but listen to how they debut this to the audience. Here are the attributes of this week’s audio: coming out of a song, they start with content. There is no filler or nonsense – they immediately tell a story – and that story is audio of a kid who got a guitar from Dierks Bentley at a concert. The exchange is short and fun. I am immediately hooked and have context. Next is the solicit, followed by banter between the two to reference their best experience – inside getting their chemistry and playfulness (again more fun), followed by the phone number. All done in under 75 seconds. They connect with us, made us laugh, gave us a frame point, and then made the solicit. What could have been positioned as a standard phone topic was wonderfully executed.
There’s always been this unwritten rule that you shouldn’t friend your boss on Facebook. But how would you react if a cast member’s mother friended you? That’s the question on The Josie Dye Show, Indie 88, Toronto when Josie’s mom friended her cast mates, Matt and Carlin. They have no desire to let Josie’s mom see that side of their lives. That tension is necessary in this character development idea – will or won’t they accept her friend request? Josie did the most obvious thing, she got her mom on the phone with the entire show to discuss it, with the payoff being a decision on what will happen. Great character ideas are rooted in a story. That narrative must have a twist or turn which sets up the dilemma for a payoff so the audience stays through it until the end to hear how it will be resolved. This works on all those levels and is sticky as a result.
Proving that listeners glum on to the frivolous, Jen from Koz and Jen, WTMX, Chicago presented a cake in her weekend journal she baked for her youngest daughter’s birthday. The cake was too perfect looking for us – so we started to rib her that she actually purchased it instead of baking it. The room became so much fun over this, we saw a narrative arc to do through the show. They posted a picture of the cake on their Facebook page at the start of the program and asked listeners to go see it and comment if they think she really baked it (digital engagement). This, of course, became on-air content and calls (laughter for those just tuning in). And culminated at the end of the show with Koz calling Raina, Jen’s daughter, to “authenticate” that the cake was for real (character development). Silly is better than weighty – this proves listeners will follow along and play in the sandbox if we give them something substantive that is also easy to consume (pun intended!). Here’s a compilation of some of the breaks they did through the show so you can hear how it evolved.
Silly fun. That’s why listeners tune in. They’re looking for a team that likes each other (they can tell if you don’t) who want to provide a respite from the stresses of life with a laugh or smile each morning. They’re drawn to these two elements – the chemistry of the cast and amount of humor you offer around the topics of the day. The Big Dave Show, B105, Cincinnati is a terrific example of a show that has these attributes. Chelsie is obsessed with Keith Urban. To showcase the team’s chemistry, Dave and Statt arranged for “Keith Urban” to call on her birthday. It’s obvious this Keith Urban is a fake from the start, but the goal is to just have some fun – and in the process the audience feels a part of the joke, we highlight how much the cast likes each other, and the audience leaves having had a good time.
What does a typical radio station do for Mother’s Day weekend? They give out flowers or spa certificates to caller ten every hour. The atypical radio station has every daypart co-hosted by the mother of the DJ on the schedule. That’s what the brilliantly programmed Q102, Cincinnati (Patti Marshall, PD!) did last month when faced with doing something special that weekend. One of the many great things about the Q102 brand, built over many years, is its laser focus on the right music, its longtime, highly entertaining Jeff and Jenn morning show, and doing unique things like this to connect with and entertain the audience. Where most stations do standard fare, Q102 has always stood out to do something unique, fun, different, and interesting, which is why it always wins big. Here’s one of the promos they ran that weekend so you can get a sense of what they did and how it sounded.
Sherman and Tingle, WDRV, Chicago couldn’t care less about the Royal Wedding. This doesn’t absolve them from dealing with it – it actually gives them a powerful perspective from which to develop their breaks and humor. There have been times where certain shows or talent will use the “I don’t care about it so I didn’t do anything around it” as a defense to avoid a big topic. That’s not smart (it’s actually lazy!). We never assign perspectives, we just need to identify them to tackle the topic. Add a splash of imagination to your take and you’re off to the races to entertain the audience. These guys imagined what Prince William’s first toast of the happy couple would sound like at the reception. Behold a perfect break – it’s around a big topic of the day, it’s foundation is the team’s take, it’s funny, it’s short, and it’s inventive.