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.
Proving that absolutely no one knows who the vice presidential candidates are, The Big Dave Show, B105, Cincinnati set out to have some fun with a street game called “TV or VP?” Dave was armed with a list of men who’ve served as vice presidents for our great country, and another list of famous TV characters. You have to love this intersection of politics and pop culture. It’s an easy way to do political humor without every being political and polarizing. What aides the fun factor of this audio is that Dave recorded all of these at a local concert, just before the show. The benefit in doing this is that everyone he talked to was in a good mood because of the concert, thus guaranteeing he’d have usable audio for the show.
The challenge in breaks is to reach certain benchmarks: are we in the cycle for pop culture (because we live in this very clickable world), are we being honest and real with the audience (because they can smell a phony a mile away), are we having fun (listeners want to have a good time). Back during the GOP convention when everyone was talking about Melania Trump, Michele Obama, and Hillary Clinton, The Cruz Show, Power 106, Los Angeles, played the game “F, Marry, Kill” where Cruz went around the room asking each cast member who of that trio they’d sleep with, get hitched to, or off. Everyone assigned something different to each person (conflict = comedy). What hooks the audience is the edgy question – they not only are getting to know the cast by how they answer, they’re answering it in their heads, too.
What’s it like for a mother to leave her kid for the very first time, and leave the kid with the father? Karson and Kennedy, MIX 104.1, Boston explored the topic. Karson’s wife, Lana, was going out of town for the very first time for a girls weekend after their young son, Barrett, was born. How would Karson “perform” as a father, alone, for the very first time? Lana puts Karson on notice in several areas: how the kid will be dressed, getting him a haircut, having a poker night at the house around their son. Radio is really easy – tell me a story (Lana leaves town for the first time), then make it come alive in the details so conflict appears, producing a highly relatable dialogue affording the best chance for natural humor. No bit, just real life talk. The bonus and what makes this sparkle, is getting Lana on to add perspective as the mom and instigate more conflict so this really shines, keeping the attention of listeners throughout.
With the passing this week of my very good friend, Dave McKay, from Dave and Veronica, WQYK, Tampa, I wanted to honor him with our weekly audio post of an all-time favorite. I loved Dave because he had the biggest heart and always (!) put everyone of us in the team over himself. Dave was an immensely hard worker, very creative, and never adverse to getting stuff done. The number of contacts he had in his cell always astounded me – we’d come up with an idea for a local celebrity and Dave would make the call to make it happen. There are a slew of segments I could post to celebrate Dave, but this is one of my all-time favorites. Not only for its creativity, but for the sheer balls it took to pull off. We hatched an idea to get a local mayor to do the Vincent Price poem at the end of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” as a Halloween bit. Dave shows up unannounced at a Meet the Mayor Town Hall and convinces a handler to let him ask his question last. What happens is one of the most fun things we ever did – it’s edge of your seat silliness as listeners wait to hear how the mayor will react and if Dave will get thrown out. I’ve included other breaks Dave did which I believe are fun, innovative, and memorable so you can hear his genius and the talent of his team (Pen of the Day, interview with Garth Brooks,and his mom’s outgoing voicemail). Dave McKay had one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever known – to his listeners, coworkers, teammates, and his community. There was never a time after we stopped working together when we talked that he didn’t thank me for all I did for him. I always thanked him back, because he made me a better person and a better talent coach. I’ll miss that dude. Hope you enjoy these.
Here’s a fun new feature you can do on Mondays that plays off your weekend. Dana and Jayson, WBLI, Long Island, were recapping their weekend on a recent Monday show. Jayson took the position that he had an incredibly lame weekend and seemed disturbed by it. They were really smart by broadening it out to include listeners, trying to “out lame” Jayson with the simple question: Who had a more lame weekend than Jayson? Great radio shows work when they tell stories. Stories have details and twists-and-turns that capture the audience. Jayson is presented as a very regular guy to the audience in this conversation, also allowing both of them to showcase their senses of humor very authentically. The premise is fun (and atypical) as are hearing the audience tell stories, too, turning them into the stars of the program.
There are few stations and shows that can openly make fun of Donald Trump without retribution from its audience or Trump’s loudest supporters. The Cruz Show, Power 106, Los Angeles is one. With its intensely loyal Hispanic base, the show can consistently go there, with the audience identifying with their point-of-view all the way. Once laughter is included, and we figure out how to entertain around the topic, it makes it even better. They asked the audience the simple question, “I’d rather (blank) than see Donald Trump become president.” This works because it’s a Hot Topic with an interesting take – every answer is different so the bit doesn’t become stagnant. The execution was even better – with them culling answers from people on the street and on the phones – two approaches to make it sparkle.
Playing on the heels of last week’s audio, here’s another music-based feature to entertain the audience. What happens when you fuse country lyrics with a hip hop (rap) style? Well, if you’re Ryno and Tracy, KYGO, Denver, you get “crap”. Here’s a fun game where Tracy does the lyrics of a hit country song in a hip hop style. First listener to guess artist and title wins. Games work because if done well, they’re vicarious. They win even bigger if those playing along in cars are laughing and having a good time. What’s really important is to not focus on what you have to give out, but figure out how to give the prize out in a way that includes those who want to call to win (the smaller group) and those who listen to play along (the way larger group). The big success happens when those playing along laugh.
Music-centered ideas and features score very well with listeners. Taking one of the main reasons they come to the radio station (your music) and creating something fun around it, really performs well in PPM. Stacey K and Jonah, HOT 101.7, Santa Rosa, CA realized there are similarities in both the titles and hooks of Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home” and Rhianna featuring Drake’s “Work”. So they did the next logical thing, they fused the two songs together. This took lots of work (pun intended) to conceive and edit. The win for the audience is fun for them as they hear the final product.
We preach regularly on this page the necessity for three things to properly define who you are on-the-air: be honest with the audience, be comfortable enough to share your life with listeners, and tell stories. Enter Bud and Broadway, 92.3, WIL, St. Louis who do it effortlessly in this break. You disarm listeners when you are vulnerable. They actually get closer to you the more they know you. Broadway, talking about his relatives, referenced that he has a “white trash division” of his family. It’s a funny characterization that shows his comfort level with listeners. He then goes on to prove it by telling little funny stories that defines who he is, where he comes from, and his ability to poke at himself (and his heritage). As a result, he disarms the audience to do the same (we all have crazy relatives) and they get closer as a result. This is excellent character development.
There has been a slew of OJ Simpson programming on TV in the last few months. Reenactments of the case, ESPN’s five-part documentary on what happened behind the scenes. It’s all very riveting story-telling. That, in itself, is instructional of the power of telling a story in a way that grabs the audience, even if you know the outcome. How better to tie in than by finding someone directly attached to the story and ask the questions you want answers to? Norman Pardo was one of OJ’s agents after his acquittal. Did he think Simpson was guilty? Kyle and Rachel, Radio NOW, Indianapolis, asked Pardo this question, among others, in their interview of him at the height of the shows being on TV. I always ask talent what they did this week that no one else thought to do. This is something that would be on the list.