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.
A major shift we made on Karlson and McKenzie, WZLX, Boston’s very successful morning show a while back was to go more personal with the audience. This is why we have relatives of the cast members on all the time. Kevin Karlson’s in-laws celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, which is why he went around their party with a recorder asking people coming to celebrate how many times in September they had had sex. It’s uncomfortable, unpredictable, and very funny.
Each morning at 7:30, we play “Big Fat Liar” with the cast of Gene and Julie on KVIL, Dallas. This is a character building break, where we get to know the talent. Each tells a one sentence story about themselves, only one person is lying. The listener who correctly guesses who’s lying wins. Here’s one which shows the chemistry of the team. You always walk having had fun and having learned something about each member of the cast. It’s edited down from what aired, but you’ll get the sense of how it’s played and how these guys create laughter with it.
Instead of doing a standard Q&A on interviews, Cledus, Dave, and Veronica at WQYK, Tampa do something different and fun. They let listeners guess what the interviewee had for breakfast, then make that a part of their conversation. This part humanizes the person being interviewed and is silly and fun, thus drawing listeners in to the interview because it’s different. Here’s an interview they did using this approach with one of their local mayors.
Truly great radio, the kind that connects with the audience, is vulnerable. Listeners want to get to know the talent (the parts which position them as real). At Mojo in the Morning at Channel 95.5, Detroit, Shannon (the single 27-year old of the show) is considering getting a dog. Listen as the conversation evolves with Shannon admitting to the room how lonely she is being single, especially learning that her ex-fiance had a new girlfriend. Then, Shannon breaks down crying. This is brilliant radio because the wall between the talent and the listener is invisible. Think of how many other women identify and have empathy for this show character. The next break (right below on this page) was spent talking with listeners reacting to this.
Here is phone reaction from the break above with listeners identifying with Shannon’s admission on Channel 95.5, Detroit that she was lonely and wanted a dog.
The very best, most entertaining phone topics satisfy two criteria. First they must originate from an experience a member of the show has. That’s the justification to do it (verses it being perceived as a generic, prep service topic). The second is that what you ask for must be stories. Inside stories, there’s rich detail and twist and turns that will keep listeners hooked because the show has something to mine for gold. A member of Fernando and Greg, NOW 99.7, San Francisco, went to a wedding which was ruined by an invited guest. Here are the fun phones they did around it.
On a female-targeted radio station, you can never go wrong with kids. Listen as Michael from the B101, Philadelphia morning show quizzes kids at his son’s school bus stop about the big “event” which was coming up that weekend (the Super Bowl). The kids are cute, create great laughter, and strategically position Michael as the “father” on the program!
With the Olympics all over television now, J and Julian at B96, Chicago did a simple, yet quirky phone topic asking listeners, “If you could win Olympic gold in the one thing in life you do really well, what would you medal in?” These are fun, simple stories listeners tell. So much of great radio is creating humor from real life experiences. This one nails it.
At MIX 104.1, Boston we did “Wedding in a Week” for Valentine’s Day. Considering the economy, we found couples who wanted to be married but were putting it off because they couldn’t afford it. We built this from the ground up, first finding the couple, then getting listeners to donate all the items one would need for a wedding. Once we found the minister to perform the service, we felt like we needed to check him out. So the show called a couple he’d married previously to make sure the minister had the “golden touch” for happy marriages. Here’s the very tongue-in-cheek (and fun) conversation with a guy who’s been happily married for five years by the man who performed our service.
The very best morning radio is personal and vulnerable. Which is why the feature “Truth or Pair” works. J and Julian, B96, Chicago’s number one show had tickets to give out to see Pink perform at the station. Instead of taking caller ten (ugh!) they challenged listeners to call them with a highly personal question. If they answered it (truth), the listener got nothing. But if the question was too personal, they could take a pass and the listener got the pair of tickets to see Pink.