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.
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.
The highlight of the week could very well have been the narrative arc done by Two Men and a Mom, WRAL-FM, Raleigh around Bryan’s upcoming July wedding. The show hatched the arc around the thesis that Bryan’s fiance had invited an extra bridesmaid so he needed an additional groomsman. That’s when it became fun. He decided to write a “recruiting” letter to Duke’s Coach K (seen here), read it on the air, and published it to social media making the ask with a Friday, 8:15 deadline. They worked this arc for two days, waiting to hear from Coach K on his decision. Friday at 8:15 arrives and they get their answer if the iconic men’s basketball coach at the famed local university will stand with Bryan during his ceremony. Hear the conclusion of this awesome story arc below that accomplished these things: character development for Bryan, it affirmed innovation because of what they did, was a great example of truly being local, and was very fun to eavesdrop on.
It’s quite clever when a show marries something in pop culture with character development to satisfy the audience’s need to understand the talent as it reflects a topic of the day. Enter Spencer’s Neighborhood, 106.5 The Arch, St. Louis who did just that with the Kentucky Derby last week. The topic amongst the cast and then with listeners on the phones was for each to share a short highlight of their weekend and then the team assigned you a Kentucky Derby horse name based on the experience. Spencer and his team get so much done in a few short minutes, which requires additional prep because they have very little time to waste. Listen as this is wonderfully set up in the first few seconds with audio of the event, hooking the audience, and then tied that to pop culture to contemporize the show along with short stories from the weekend, all leading to humor.
Radio stations need to do promotions – these large giveaways (usually trips or cash contests) add energy to a radio station and cultivate listening from contest players. Mark and NeanderPaul, KSLX, Phoenix subscribe to the philosophy that while these promotions need to be talked about on their show, that kind of break is only geared at the 2% who care (and will follow or play the game). We need to make a break like that entertaining to the other 98% to help carry listeners thru content that really doesn’t matter to them. The station just started a game centered around classic rock called The A to Z Game. Listen to this break and note what they did in promoting it to make it fun to hear for the larger group, the 98% who’ll never call to win anything from the station.
Much like Steve Harvey does special-themed Family Feuds, it’s totally fine for you to take your tenured, signature features and do something different with them on occasion, too. Koz and Jen, The MIX, Chicago, do the Show Biz Pop Quiz each afternoon as listeners are driving home. This Hollywood trivia game is widely done and immensely popular with an audience because it’s vicarious, easy, and centered around a cast character in efforts to help define them. Here is their 100th episode of the feature. As a special treat for both Jen and the audience, Koz had her play against someone who is 100 years old. This quirky turn is geared at those just tuning in to play along, helping heighten how fun it is for them.