We recently added a new character to Josie, Carlin, and Brent, Indie 88, Toronto. Brent’s character is the young, single guy who lives in a 700-square foot apartment in the heart of downtown. He has a ton of friends and spends his weekends having a good time. This is a nice contrast to the others on the show who are in longer-term relationships and more settled. We are focusing a lot of time defining Brent’s character and creating that contrast in the room. Brent recently got an interview with Fred VanFleet, who plays for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors. Besides doing the usual Q&A, Brent also asked Fred to review his online dating profile to make commentary. This is a unique way to both showcase the player’s personality and define Brent.
Here’s a reminder from George, Mo, and Erik, The Morning Bullpen, KILT-FM, Houston that when artists come on, they want to sell something. Last week, country singer Lee Brice needed to sell some concert tickets, which is one of the reasons he did the interview with them. Knowing that very few in their audience would buy tickets, the mission in talking with Lee was to create some fun. It’s wonderful that Lee’s last name (Brice) rhymes with “price” so they did Lee Brice Price is Right. This treatment has been done many times by all of us in morning radio. Why this works better is because they chose quirky items related to Lee of things for sale they found on the internet. Lee had to guess the price of items associated with him, which upped the fun factor.
A great resource for your show, as you well know, is your listeners. They have stories and experiences you don’t and can help grow the entertainment quotient of your program every time you focus on them. Back when Covid and being quarantined was a thing, John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego did the very simple break asking listeners what they taught themselves while holed up at home with nothing else to do. Not enough shows take advantage of grooming their audience to being full participants in their shows. From listeners, you get great storytelling based on real life stuff. Once you tell the audience your story, pivot and always ask the listeners for theirs. They are your best resource to creating a show about the audience, which bounces back to you tenfold as once you make them a star, they’ll return the favor.
This week’s audio proves several things: first, the importance of being about the moment. Great shows are about whatever is going on right now. Second, taking advantage of your surroundings – there’s gold for content and characters all around you – just see it. And presenting your content in a way where you own it. The NFL season starts this week. It’s a big topic for any market, whether you have a team or not, because listeners’ lifestyles are impacted. Back in the day when I was working with Ty, Kelly, and Chuck, NASH FM’s syndicated country show from Nashville, we added a feature that took advantage of all the artists you’ll find all over that town, looking for their big break, called the Ten Minute Tune. We partnered with a few who wrote well and had a sense of humor. Each morning, we’d take calls from listeners suggesting a topic and the singer had ten minutes to come up with a song around that topic. Here’s what happened with the the NFL draft, when it was a big topic after the season that year.
When a major controversy comes up in the studio like who does the laundry at home better, it’s best to bring in an expert. Look for people at the station who can have occasional roles complimenting and elevating the content on your show because they can be a foil. Mother Mary is one of them for Zach and Brittney, WBYT, South Bend, IN. The show got into a deep conversation about doing laundry recently. So they each did their laundry, brought it in, and had a co-worker, who they named Mother Mary (because she sounds very motherly), critique who did it better. We’re at our best when we’re being silly and relatable. This one accomplished both because it was so frivolous. What Mother Mary added made it even more fun.
You might be shocked what listeners will share. We found out when we added the new feature How Much Do You Make on Karson and Kennedy, MIX 104.1, Boston. This one’s easy. Ask a listener to call and tell you what they do for a living. You then get to ask a bunch of questions about their job and their life. Doing so pulls listeners in so they can try to figure out that person’s yearly salary based on the answers. After a few questions, each person on the show guesses the caller’s income, then they reveal it. We came up with this idea when we saw Parade Magazine’s yearly What People Earn edition. We were stunned how many people were willing to share this with us. You might be, too.
Let’s have some fun with the boss, shall we? Karen, Johnny, and Intern Anthony, WNEW-FM, New York decided to prank their boss, Jim Ryan, on his birthday. Normally you might think this is inside talk. What listener knows Jim Ryan, the Brand Manager of the Audacy station? But that’s irrelevant, because the team quickly changes this to a relationships bit and displays the silliness of their sense of humor with the Carvel cake prank they played on him. Destinations, game plans, and prep help you get to what listeners want most, which are payoffs. They’ll not spend much time allowing any show to talk around a topic if they don’t know where they are going. So it’s irrelevant who the program director is. What matters most is the audience relates to the topic (today is our boss’s birthday) and laughs at the funny prank they pull on him.
We suggested a new game a few weeks ago on the Monday Morning Free Ideas page called Cancelled, Delayed, or On Time. Designed to play off the summer travel trouble vacationers endured, the show chooses a flight leaving the airport that morning, a listener guesses if it’s delayed, cancelled, or on-time, then you call the airline’s voice-activated phone line to see its status. Our wins will always come when we’re relevant (travel trouble was a topic over the summer everyone could relate to whether they traveled by air or not) and then figuring out what to do with them that no one else will think of. When listeners come to your show and you’re on the biggest topics and doing something with them conjured from your creative brain, that isn’t perceived as a wacky radio idea, you win big because you have a show that can’t be found anywhere but your station. Here’s Josie, Carlin, and Brent, Indie 88, Toronto, with a couple versions of the game.
Mega Millions is the Hot List topic. It’s worth over one billion dollars and you aren’t relevant unless you devote some content breaks to it so your audience aligns your show with an image of being relevant. The big question is what will you do with that topic that you can own? How do you treat it in a way where your audience laughs, possibly talks about the break, and also gives you an image of being imaginative without crossing the line of being a wacky radio show? Kyle, Bryan, and Sarah, WRAL-FM, Raleigh decided to have the entire staff get in on the content. Over the course of 45-minutes, they had the staff call their boss to “pre-resign” believing they would win the billion that night. They then flipped it and had the audience do the same. Pretty creative idea against a highly relevant topic.
Have you ever been accused by your PD that your show is in a silo? When I did mornings, I never quite got this accusation until I stepped away. Many shows ignore the rest of the radio station. They don’t talk about station promotions too much or the other personalities. I’ve never believed it’s malicious – you’re just into doing your content. It helps in building the station brand for the audience to know that you’re one big, happy family. That’s why finding reasons for other talent to be on your show and you being on their show lifts all boats. A few weeks ago, we lost a key cast member on Karson and Kennedy, MIX 104.1, Boston. The day before her final show, the afternoon team of Gregg, Freddy, and Danielle called Annie Dow to have some fun and say how much they’ll miss her. Station fans leave a break like this knowing everyone likes one another. Smart move.