Carl and Carol Mornings – All We Wanna Do Is Talk

I’m not sure when it happened, but I think I know why.

I listen to some personality-driven shows in radio and hear not much more than Carl and Carol talking with one another, the show becoming all about them.  With not much of a sense of how listeners are reacting to (getting bored by) the breaks where they’re just talking about stuff.

The high performers in our industry work extra hard on not just what topics they’ll put into their show, but what to do with them.

Imagine Jimmy Kimmel being introduced to his audience and then doing nothing more than yapping with Guillermo for the entire hour.  Who’d stay tuned for that (or click on the links online)?

Why did all this chatter and lack of matter happen?  We took resources away from our personality shows and said:  please also post online; please also come up with a promotion for a client; please also have a relationship with sales; please also do that remote.  Etcetera.  None of it unreasonable, but then we can’t tack on please also be creative because that bandwidth doesn’t exist.

For the shows and companies I work with, two things I do in our weekly Zooms are keep the show honest to its plot and content strategy.  We also come up with fun/engaging things to do around the topics of the day, things going on in their lives, and things happening locally.

Think of these choices for a typical four-minute content break:


Carl and Carol in the Morning

An Engaging Pivot

OJ Dies Conversation between the hosts. Talking to someone who once met OJ and has a story.
Taylor Swift’s new music Conversation between the hosts. A feisty/funny drag queen reviews all 31 tracks.
Taxes Are Due Conversation between the hosts. A CPA does a forensics on the credit card statements of a cast member to reveal how much they spent on Uber Eats and Door Dash last year.
Beyonce’s “Jolene” Conversation between the hosts. You do a mash-up of 10 artists who’ve recorded the song, asking listeners to name them.
Trump’s Trial Conversation between the hosts. A courtroom sketch artist does pictures that you use on socials during his trial and/or you talk to listeners who’ve been on juries to hear what that’s like.

I call the right column above “the pivot”.  Think of it like this around OJ dying (because it was a Hot Topic):

Carl and Carol with Option A:  “So OJ died.  Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, here’s what we think, blah, blah, blah.”  Spots.

Option B:  “So OJ died.  Blah.  Then the pivot.  Here’s Steve Reynolds from Raleigh who met OJ in Las Vegas at the craps table a few years ago.”  Steve tells his compelling story about OJ.  Then they ask if he got the vibe that OJ was guilty.

Between the two options above, which is more engaging for the audience and never lets them drift or tune away?  Notice in option B there are 90% fewer blahs.  Pivots are treatments of the relatable, relevant content in column one designed to keep listeners engaged so they don’t lose interest.

For my high performers, I know you spend time prepping for these pivots once the show is over.  I can hear it.  If your prep process is lax or non-existent, it’s best you fix that so your show is distinctive and unique.  It should reflect your take by exploring your curiosity on the topics and not just be conversation.  It’s rare those who tell me they do this prep at home are right.  The power of being together to brainstorm these pivots is far greater.  But spending more time on those pivots keeps fans tuned in.

For our managers and companies who believe in your people, we must get back to supporting our talent (aka “our sellable product because they bring the content”) even more with the resources they need to come up with these pivots.  Kimmel has a dozen writers.  We just have us, because the industry’s changed.  But if we expect our personality shows to truly do interesting and epic things with topics, we’ll support them to come up with those ideas (more fun, inquisitive people associated with the prep process) and help get them done.

If we don’t…if all you are is conversation and maybe a phone topic here and there, the audience will stray sooner than any of us think and maybe something/someone else will capture their imagination and build new loyalties to your fans.

If not, it’ll be the Carl and Carol Morning Show –  All We Wanna Do Is Talk.  And that’ll get us nowhere as an industry.