Sarah Pepper and Jessie Watt, KHMX, Houston Grandpa and Gizmo’s Wedding

You can’t tell a great story without at least one viable point-of-conflict.  A point-of-conflict that will draw the audience in and make your story electric.  The length of the break is also dependent on how many points-of-conflict you have.  Case in point is this great character break from Sarah Pepper and Jessie Watt, KHMX, Houston.  Jessie’s 80-year old grandpa got married again.  Their code name for the new bride is Gizmo because Jessie refuses to call her grandma.  This break is four minutes long but doesn’t feel it for several reasons.  First, this is excellent story-telling.  Within the first ten seconds, I know the topic and the main point-of-conflict.  Then, in Jessie’s telling, she adds drama around the main narrative with at least ten additional observations (other points-of-conflict).  You must have drama in stories to make them fun.  Add in great use of audio and this is real and highly entertaining because of how it was told and the details of the story.

Kyle, Bryan, and Sarah, WRAL-FM, Raleigh with The Cookie Tank

Girl Scout Cookies are on sale in almost every market of the country, making them a Hot List topic you should have fun with.  The folks at Coleman Insights talk about the 3 T’s of Content:  Topic, Treatment, and Tone.  Are you on the best topics?  What is your treatment of those topics?  And the tone is how you make the audience feel.  Treatments are things you do with the great content chosen that make its execution all yours.  Not in a wacky, cheesy way, but in a style that fits your brand.  Last year, Kyle, Bryan, and Sarah, WRAL-FM, Raleigh decided from a brainstorm session that they wanted to marry girl scout cookie sales with the popularity of the TV show Shark Tank.  What came from that was putting on cute girl scouts selling their cookies and them being the sharks.  This is a creative treatment to the topic and called The Cookie Tank.

Chris and the Crew, WPST, Trenton, NJ Joe’s Pizza Easter Egg

You know what’s wonderful?  When a show preps so hard that breaks are mapped out.  Conversation on a show, especially around real life content, is good.  But chit chat without a purpose or destination can backfire on any show, accruing them a “talks too much” image.  Chris and the Crew, WPST, Trenton, NJ know the value of game plans.  Joe on the show bought a pizza for lunch and accidentally dropped it on floor at the radio station.  Did he pick it up and eat it?  That was the hook to get you through this week’s posted audio.  Listen to the design of this simple break.  They grab me with the question if Joe still ate the pizza.  There’s a caller quickly inside the break to stimulate that question.  They then place an Easter egg in the break (an unexpected moment) to add to the humor.  Before they engage people through their app and reveal what Joe did.  All the way around, this is an A+ break for content and execution.

John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego The Prince Harry Lookalike

Great radio shows are about the moment.  Much in the same way the nightly talk shows are having fun with the topics of the day.  Which brings us to Prince Harry.  He’s everywhere you turn.  Which means we must be on it as content.  What’s your take on all of this?  Conversation plus appropriate audio (because he seems to be on every media outlet) will define your character.  Then, we must have fun with it.  Knowing they’d never get the actual Prince Harry, John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego did the work to find a Prince Harry lookalike in Great Britain who gets tons of work as his doppelgänger .  The guy won a contest years ago and decided to turn it into a business venture.  The show asks him to bring us inside with all the right questions.  It’s an interesting conversation, associated with a Hot Topic, because the show was curious and poked around to find a unique angle.

The Josie Dye Show with Carlin and Brent, Indie 88, Toronto Your Most Famous Helps With Our Socks

Our yearly community service project on the Josie Dye Show with Carlin and Brent, Indie 88, Toronto is collecting socks for the homeless of that city.  This past year, our seventh doing it, the show raised its millionth pair of socks.  It’s a community service event designed to be very different from all the others you’ve heard.  We are always looking to present our ask of the audience in unique ways.  We acknowledge that our request needs to be framed as a story and as content to impact the images of the show by the larger group of fans who’ll never give us socks.  So this year, something different.  We asked each person on the show to call the most famous person in their phone’s contact list on-the-air to ask for their support and help collecting socks.  Josie’s most famous person is Eric Lindross, who played hockey in Canada.  To them, he’s a superstar, as is evidenced by Carlin and Brent’s reactions just talking with him.  Always be different in what you do.  Look for ways to be innovative so the break everyone hears is its most memorable.

The Morning Mess, B96, Chicago The Ugly Secret Santa

You do Secret Santa at work or in the family and you pull the name of someone you hate.  This is a great thesis for on-air content because it has built in tension that will drive engagement and memorability.  So The Morning Mess, B96, Chicago found out when producer Angie chose someone in Secret Santa at her second job she detests.  This has a very sticky hook and is perfect show content that’s story-based.  Angie stays true to herself – she wants to get this person a crappy present because she does not like them.  Lots to explore here to make the story come alive.  And then the show does the smart thing.  Instead of it becoming a phone topic where they ask the audience who at work they don’t like, they get the audience involved in Angie’s story, giving her advice to keep her on message about not liking the co-worker she has to buy a gift for.  Real life always works for content, especially if the story has layers and areas to explore.  This is all of that and more.

Sarah and Jessie, MIX 96.5, Houston Teachers Worst Christmas Gift

We’ve covered before the importance of telling stories when doing phones with listeners.  Stories are how we connect.  Stories have details and twists and turns and resolutions which make them fun to hear.  Sarah Pepper and Jessie Watt, MIX 96.5, Houston, did calls asking teachers about the worst Christmas gifts they ever got from a student.  Pushing stories to the margins (in this case, the worst gift) helps the story telling because worst gifts are much more fun to hear than best gifts.  Remember when opening the phones for any topic – if you do an “st” (best, worst, lamest, funniest, etc.) – you will get a something from listeners that lives on the fringes of the topic, which is a good move for vibrant, electric stories others tuning in will want to hear.  On the topic of worst teachers gifts, here are two breaks from the show, along with a third where they asked about the best gifts.

Karlson and McKenzie, WZLX, Boston Scared Straight Santa

This is one of my favorite breaks ever as done by Karlson and McKenzie, WZLX, Boston.  We were looking to find an edgy way to connect with the audience.  The show has attitude and swagger and we wanted to channel that sense of humor into a holiday idea that would be much different than the standard fare phone topics most shows do around this time of year.  Enter Scared Straight Santa.  Everyone knows of the “scared straight” concept where prisoners scare kids into towing the line so they don’t end up in jail.  We used that to keep misbehaving children in line for their parents or else Santa won’t show up.  The first break is the call from a parent who tells us how their kid is misbehaving.  The next break (the one below) is when Pete McKenzie calls back as Santa and challenges the kid to promise to be good.  This hits all important images you should have:  it’s fun, it’s real, it’s innovative, and it’s relatable.

George, Mo, and Erik, The Morning Bullpen, KILT-FM, Houston The 6:10 Amen

Lots of shows do positive news.  It’s a great feature to communicate your values to the audience and works because it’s the opposite of the world so many listeners experience each day.  For many, while the content is the same, the frame is different.  We recently changed a few things about this feature on George, Mo, and Erik, the Morning Bullpen, KILT-FM, Houston.  We do this twice a day – it’s called the 6:10 or 8:10 Amen.  The big change we made is what we curate for content.  Where a typical show might find a good story and tell their audience about that, we decided to root for whatever good news the listeners have in their lives.  They determine the content.  We love hearing listener’s voices and stories.  The show then celebrates that fan.  Which sets us apart from what you usually hear on a feature like this.

John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego John Doesn’t Get Taylor Tickets, Too

This week was a debacle for Taylor Swift fans who were tormented by Ticketmaster.  Tons tried, but few got tickets to see her in concert.  An imperative image for any show to own is “they’re just like you”.  Rooted in authenticity, one of radio’s super powers is to convince the audience that you are just like them.  That intimacy (that you are real) helps the bonding process to build a strong relationship.  John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego are exactly that.  Which is why John tried to get Taylor tickets from Ticketmaster this week, like everyone else.  The only difference?  John is on the radio so he recorded his mood as he endured the long wait, eventually failing, too.  To be like the audience, you must have similar experiences.  Living that on-the-air helps your fans know you are just like them!