Archive for month: April, 2019
Breaks can’t be linear – you cannot have one point-of-conflict and mine that for several minutes. The best evaluated breaks are ones with a focused thesis, but also with elements inside that are more than conversation which feed the central narrative. In the many focus groups I’ve watched over the years, the breaks that score best use multiple elements around the point-of-conflict to keep the audience engaged. Koz and Jen, WTMX (The MIX), Chicago do quite well building these breaks and using their time efficiently to play into listeners’ attention deficit. The central theme of this break is that Jen’s husband is a cheapskate, because he bid low on an item being auctioned off for a charity. Before getting him on for the “confrontation”, Koz and Jen each had one of their kids comment on what they might bid for the item, adding additional elements of humor around the theme. We often hear from shows that want to talk long – this break is under two minutes, defines the cast, is vulnerable and fun, because it was prepped thoroughly.
We are into prom season – and what would be very character defining would be to find your high school prom date. Chat with them on the show to reminisce about that evening and (even better) answer questions the rest of the cast has about you (which could be quite uncomfortable and entertaining).
With Game of Thrones a very Hot Topic, do a game parody thru the run of its final season called Game of Phones. Give your contestant something one cast member searched for in Google on their cell phone and the caller must tell you which cast member did it. For instance: “Project Runway New Season Judges.” Which cast member Googled that? Thanks to Two Men and a Mom, WRAL-FM, Raleigh for this topical and character defining idea.
Drama drives great breaks. Minus some level of drama (conflict), breaks will just sit there and never engage the audience. It’s drama that draws in listeners, makes them feel something, forces them to take sides, and makes the content and story you’re telling memorable. The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston found out that Vanessa was approached by the mother of a girl scout to buy some cookies and how bothered she was that it was the mom and not the kid doing the pitch. There is your conflict. TJ is a master at stirring the pot to keep listeners on the hook. TJ tells the story about Vanessa at the grocery store and her encounter with the girl scout’s mom – listen to how they hook the audience in the first 20 seconds. Then, TJ crafts a payoff to further hold on to those listening (he surprises and delights with the payoff). Then, here come the phones with listeners taking a side and telling other stories around this silly drama, keeping listeners on the lam even more. Hear how the drama is presented right off the top, then listen for how this show holds on to listeners with how they present payoffs and phones from the drama. Real life, and real life with conflict, works.
Maybe the grandmother of a cast member (or co-worker, or listener) will come on each Monday during the run of the series last shows just to tell you how many people were killed (and how) in the previous night’s episode of Game of Thrones. “Hey guys – four characters were beheaded, two got offed by a dragon, and 6 people were burned to death last night!” Call it Granny’s Game of Thrones Death Count until the last show. The beauty of this idea is that if you choose an entertaining grandmother, you don’t have to be a fan of the show to enjoy how this content is presented.
Who’s not getting robocalls on their cell phones? Time to turn the tables. Gary Craig, WTIC-FM, Hartford is a legend and, in part, built his show around Crank Calls. So doing a robo-crank perfectly fits his program. Gary downloaded a new app called Robo Killer to his phone. When he gets what looks like a robocall on his cell, he engages the app, which answers the call and screws around with the guy in India calling to sell insurance or tell you that you’re in trouble with the IRS. The smart approach to doing relatable, distinctive radio is to take the huge topics of the day (in this case it’s robocalls, which everyone is getting and hating) and figure out what to do with the topic that you can own (using an app to mess with the caller so everyone is laughing). Look at a Kimmel, Fallon, or Ellen and that’s what they try to do everyday to create an experience you cannot get from anyone else. Gary understands this approach in creating fun things to do for his show, which is why he’s iconic in the market – what Gary gives you, you cannot get from anyone else.