Great 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.

Koz and Jen, WTMX, Chicago Show Biz Pop Quiz

The primary reason a listener chooses a specific show is because it affects their mood positively.  We sometimes convince ourselves that the brands we frequent are for intellectual reasons only (“they play 12 songs in a row!”) when, in reality, listeners choose a show because of how it makes them feel.  Each afternoon when listeners are headed home after a long day at work, Koz and Jen, 101.9 The Mix (WTMX), Chicago play Jen’s Show Biz Pop Quiz.  No doubt you’ve heard some version of this game on radio shows.  Why does it work everywhere?  Because after a hard workday, this is mind candy for the audience.  It’s not weighty being centered around Hollywood trivia, it’s vicarious (one of its critical features), it’s character defining for Jen, and it’s fun to hear.  Outside thinkers know that we choose a brand to match or affect our moods.  On listener’s long ride home in Chicago, this feature puts them in a happy place because of the content done and how it’s designed

B105, Cincinnati Darren’s First Day at School

When telling a story, nothing beats getting at least one of the people in the story to come on the show to tell their part.  We all know the value of telling stories on the air, right?  Many shows feel as though they must tell every person’s perspective in the story.  The Big Dave Show, B105, Cincinnati experienced the first day of school like everyone else.  Instead of just talking about it, Dave called his house to chat with his kids about their first day.  They sounded exactly like you’d expect as the team quizzed them.  If Dave and the team had done the entire break without them, the break could have been very linear and not fun.  Getting the kids on gave them something to play with, which is why it worked.

John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego My Ex Made Me a Millionaire

Odd ideas around the topics of the day cut through.  One time when Mega Millions and Powerball were over a half-billion dollars and everyone was talking about it, John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego, decided to buy a ticket.  Instead of the typical ideas of listeners choosing the numbers or one of the other ideas that’s been done before, we did My Ex Made Me a Millionaire by finding two people who are divorced and then they choose the numbers, with the promise that if they hit, they’d split the money.  What’s fun about this is that they were on Topic of the Day content (a must for any show – the more tied into the Hot Topics you are, the more relevant and contemporary you are for your audience) and they inserted it into a relationship in dysfunction, which is always relatable to everyone.

Power 106, Los Angeles Cruz’s Mom Reads Krystal’s DMs

Take one part naughty DMs, add one part mom who is easily shocked and embarrassed, and you have the makings of a new feature where the most prudish mother of a cast member reads the raciest direct messages of another cast member.  Enter The Cruz Show, Power 106, Los Angeles who developed the idea because cast member Krystal keeps getting highly suggestive messages from male listeners who follow her on social media.  It’s one thing to just read them and out the guys.  It’s an entirely different idea to have Cruz’s mom read them (without having seen them before) and allowing her to be shocked and react naturally.  The goal is to connect and entertain.  In one short break, this does that magnificently.

The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston The Yank Prank

There might be no greater rivalry in sports than the Red Sox – Yankees.  Boston is known for its sports and it’s a viable topic, even for stations targeting women.  The key, always, is what you do with the topic.  Just chatting about it or doing X’s and O’s won’t fly with most audiences, even listeners to sports radio.  Each year when the match-up happens at Fenway, The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston, does The Yank Prank where they head to the park to find Red Sox fans who’ve had a little too much to drink to record their enthusiasm for the team.  They then ask that person to read a card, which at one point, becomes very pro-Yankees, just to see what the reaction is – and it’s usually quite funny once they understand their allegiance has changed.  Listeners love payoffs and this twist hits every image:  it’s fun, authentic, very innovative, and relevant for Boston audiences.

AMP 103.3, Boston Cardi B Does Nursery Rhymes

Cardi B has her baby and The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston has a reply!  As TJ always does, it’s both relatable and highly innovative.  My friends at Coleman Insights talked this week in their blog about the three T’s of content:  What is your topic, what treatment will you give it, and what will be its tone?  We preach all the time to be on the biggest topics of the day, and doing something with them that both fits the show and is different for the market.  TJ and his team do that here first with a highly known topic (Cardi B having her baby) that requires no effort to follow as she’s very familiar.  Their treatment is to debut Cardi’s new “songs” (which are nursery rhymes).  The tone is humor, which is the most important attribute because listeners wake up wanting to have a great time.  Enjoy an excellent execution of Coleman’s three T’s of content.

CBS-FM, New York Scott Shannon is Confused by Lettuce

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.

WDRV, Chicago Sherman’s $14,000 Vacation

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.

MIX 104.1, Boston It’s Time for Lobster News

Karson & KennedyThere 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.

WARH, St. Louis The Interview Q&A

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.

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