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.
We’ve long said that it’s not the topic you choose, but what you do with the topic that makes it stand out. With this being Easter weekend, and a candy weekend for kids, here’s a candy break from John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego. Last October, around Halloween, they had a cute sounding kid read the ingredients of a popular Halloween candy and the listener had to guess which candy it was to win the prize. Remember that 99.999% of your audience has no chance at that prize. They tune in to have a good time. Hearing the kid stumble through the big words in the ingredients is so cute that you cannot help but be engaged. That this idea has a vicarious element to it (you’re guessing the candy in the car, too) is an added bonus to the bit. The topic of Halloween candy at the end of October is a no-brainer. Adding the element of a kid reading these ingredients in a game totally elevates it to a fun experience those tuning in will remember.
Every content choice on your show must be done for a strategic reason. Two Men and a Mom, on MIX 101.5, Raleigh, is a new show for the audience so we focus a lot on character content to define the talent and humanize them. Bryan just got engaged to his longtime girlfriend. He decided to tell his mother last of everyone, opting to tell her on-the-air. His mom, Bekkie, is always great on the show so they knew her reaction would be very revealing, highly emotional, funny, and make Bryan her son perceptually in the process. The show calls Bekkie in this segment and we all get to hear Bryan tell the story to his mom and hear her natural reaction as she shares with the audience how she feels about the news and what it’s like to be in their family. This is very personal and vulnerable and is an excellent example of how to do story-based character content in a way that perfectly defines a member of a show. It’s sticky because it’s real, a story, and has emotion attached to all of it.
There’s this general sense, especially in PPM, that interviews don’t work. This isn’t true. Bad interviews don’t work. Good ones do. When interviewing a celebrity, remember that there are two agendas at play – theirs (to sell something) and yours (to entertain the audience). Great interviews get their subject to tell a compelling story and/or reveal themselves in human ways. That’s what draws listeners in and honors your agenda first (always sell the website/tickets/CD/book on the back end of the interview). Here’s Rob and Joss, Froggy 92.9, Santa Rosa, CA who talk with country star Chris Young who’s coming on to sell concert tickets. What they cover around that: what it’s like for him to be at a Garth Brooks concert as a fan (reveal), how he helped a disadvantaged kid in their audience (story), and they played a fun game with him. Don’t interview someone solely around their agenda (silly vicarious game). The audience will bore and sniff out if you’re trying to sell them something and push back because of it. Figure out how to accomplish your agenda, as these guys did, before doing any of that.
Most morning shows, when given lottery tickets as giveaways, would groan. The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston, sees opportunity to have fun. TJ transforms himself into Lotto Man. He went out on the street as this character to give tickets to passers-by, really as a mechanism to converse about winning the lottery and create other TJ mayhem. The beauty of The TJ Show is that they always figure out, regardless of circumstance, how to use what they have to create fun. The standout elements of this break include: street audio so there is another dimension to engage the audience, TJ plays a short Lotto Man jingle in between approaching people which catches your attention, it’s quirky fun, the lottery was one of the Hot Topics that week, and talking to people on the street makes the show feel like it’s Boston.
Empathy is such a critical element to connect with the audience. It’s “I feel your pain” because you have. J. Cruz’s girlfriend just gave birth to their first child. So the host of The Cruz Show, Power 106, Los Angeles, had to wear the pregnant belly one day so he knew what it felt like. Part of that was, when he had to go to the bathroom, we sent him into the ladies room to do so, taping the experience. Video for social media, audio for the program. And yes, he was interrupted by other women who also work on the floor while he was peeing. This is real life, with a unique twist. Which made it relatable and fun.
This past week we celebrated International Women’s Day. Many people asked us to imagine a day without women. Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5 The Arch, St. Louis did just that, with this produced piece which actually mocks men. There are a few takeaways from this show clip: first, don’t ever believe it takes forever to entertain the audience. This show is impressively efficient with its time. They respect the audience by setting things up quickly (but organically) as you’ll hear and then getting to the funny fast. When you do this, you reposition your competitors for those who cross cume stations as slow. The other item to note is that talking about the topic is certainly fine, but when you have a game plan to entertain the audience with the topic, as the produced part of this break proves, you make it stickier, which helps the audience remember you and want to come back out of a fear of missing something.
Destinations and payoffs. That’s a requirement for listeners in this A.D.D. world of “want it now, want it fast”. Watch reality shows on TV and see how quickly they move along the storyline, always in search of conflict and tension in each scene, and some take-away that will engage the viewers. Many shows choose their topics, then spend their allotted mic time talking around it, in search of some exit ramp to move on to the next thing in their clock. Mark and NeaderPaul, KSLX, Phoenix found interesting content when they learned that Hitler’s phone had been sold at auction. Instead of just spending their time gabbing about it, they imagined what outgoing messages from Hitler might sound like. The goal is to establish the content quickly to hook the audience then get to the funny fast, which is what they did in this break, satiating the audience, respecting their time, and setting up another occasion because they affirmed images of being humorous.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to own an Academy Award? Is it heavy? Does everyone want to hold and touch it? Are there rules and regulations from the Academy to ownership? The answer to all three is yes. John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego were curious about all these questions (curiosity is so critical to be a successful radio personality) and then they found out that Chris Turner, the longtime (and excellent) promotions director at the radio station, has an Oscar, and not for the reason you’d think. So they put him on to tell his story and get answers to all the questions they wondered about. Bringing people inside a topic, from any angle, is always good radio if it leads to a fascinating story with humor. This is a timely and topical break given we’re in the season for awards shows, specifically the Oscars.
Every show does trivia in some form or another. Any great game show on TV (past or present) uses trivia as a foundation to entertain. It’s how you do the trivia that engages the audience. The manner in which it’s framed and presented is what resonates (which is why Jeopardy is different from NBC’s The Wall). The Big Dave Show, B105, Cincinnati, has a daily feature called Chelsie’s “Not As Naughty As It Sounds” trivia question. It’s the pro forma “this percentage of people do this” question yet the frame makes you think it’s dirty (it’s not). Then the cast takes a guess to remove two very obvious answers before they take calls. Go do trivia – it’s quite engaging and forces the audience to get vicarious to the show. But spend more time on how you do it so it cuts through.
There is never a time you air cute kids that you don’t win. Especially with women/moms. On the Fish, U-Turn, and TC Morning Show, WKIS, Miami, we’re looking for new benchmarks that help define cast members. This is a Stage One show and its cast is somewhat undefined to the audience. So creating features which help that are very strategic. U-Turn’s young daughter is terribly gregarious. Once a week, she gives the name of a very well-known movie or two to Charley and asks her what she thinks the movie is all about, based on the name. Listener to the humor and the production value of this feature and you can hear why it sparkles and works for those listening.