With Howard Stern saying the president should resign, we’re reminded of the kind of relationship you want with listeners where you can do that, too, with minimal fear your fans will abandon you. Everything you can do with your show is rooted in the relationship you have with the audience. Howard has been around a long time and has been so honest with them over the course of these decades that he’s defined enough to be able to say what he did about President Trump and get away with it. It’s a process of building trust, which is vulnerability over lots of time. While you should always be honest with the audience, the berth of topics you can tackle on your show (the more divisive ones) opens over time (many, many years – and chance are you aren’t there yet). Here’s break from The Josie Dye Show with Matt and Carlin, Indie 88, Toronto who tackle the plandemic video that made the rounds on YouTube before being deleted. What I love about this break is that the team took a stand on this video – the tone of which was honest, but not off-putting. Then they pivot to a chat with a doctor who supported their position from a medical perspective. The takeaway is always be honest with the audience but know where your line is to continue building that relationship.
You might be doing lots of interviews with the Covid issue. Compelling and interesting story-telling with experts and listeners really resonate with the audience. But, you don’t get there by accident and certainly cannot make it happen without prep. There is a very compelling TV commercial featuring a nurse at a Hartford-area hospital (here). It is immensely powerful and paints the picture of a day in her life for viewers. Christine and Salt, 965, TIC-FM, Hartford decided they wanted to talk with Nurse Sophia, considering how moved they were by the commercial. A good first step in doing an interview is that you must be moved. What aids this interview is that they are curious people – not on the surface (i.e. tell us what time you wake up, what time do you get to work – these are the kinds of questions that signal you never prepped to figure out how you’d explore her story – so Nurse Sophie could expose her true life past what we see in the spot). As you will hear in this interview, the team probed about what it was like to be in a room with a Covid patient and what her life was like when she went home after experiencing that each day. They went deep and you must, too, if you will do an interview that will be impactful, emotional, memorable, and lasting for the audience.
We’ve all done the same half dozen Mother’s Day ideas for years, right? Karson and Kennedy, MIX 104.1, Boston developed a new idea this year called Iron Mom. It’s the pretty simple bit where listeners call a voicemail line to tell them about what makes their mom special – what elevates this idea is the frame (they are creating a club of Iron Moms, which is powerful) and what they are asking listeners to share when they call. The brilliance of this break is how they debuted the feature. Where many shows would just promote the number, keeping the idea in listeners’ heads as they explained what they wanted, the team left their own mock voicemails for themselves and then played them for the audience. As you will hear, the examples both defined the show’s cast for character development but also gave those inclined to call what they are looking for. Each was both touching and funny and they moved the audience to feel the idea so listeners knew what to leave on the voicemail line for airing – which is smart.
There are stories all over the place of the odd things happening to people around the coronavirus topic. While you should start transitioning to other kinds of content now, this topic is still relevant, especially if you’re telling a story and having fun. Charles Calvin got what he thought was an $8-million stimulus check from the federal government instead of his expected $1600. David, Sue, and Kendra, Magic 106.7, Boston had to hear the story. What makes this break great is that they let him tell them the story. Knowing all the details because of prep, they helped him move the narrative forward to its conclusion. When interviewing anyone, I am listening for many things (is it a well-told, interesting story? Will the audience laugh at it? Has it been edited well?). Chief among the things I am also listening for is how much the talent talk and how much the person being interviewed talks. I hope for more of the latter than the former.
A challenge for every show, regardless of market size, is getting phone calls early in the program. We all have smaller audiences then and listeners are less inclined to call a show and participate in any game or phone topic you might have. What could help is focusing the phones on a specific type of listeners. Two Men and a Mom, WRAL-FM, Raleigh know that, while most of the audience is getting up and ready for work or school (when in session) at that early hour, they are not inclined to call. But an audience on the road and more ripe to participate in a radio show is truckers. So they direct this occasional phone topic at them, asking truckers to call to tell them what they’re hauling. It’s a simple way to generate some content early in the show on the phones – the win comes in the conversation, then the payoff of finding out what’s in their truck and where they’re bringing it.
One quick way to get phones is to ask the audience to help you solve a dilemma. That’s reflected in this week’s Free Idea. The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston gets this, too. Loren from the show enjoyed a delicious cupcake given to her by a listener. This wasn’t your ordinary, average cupcake. It was a cupcake a cut above anything else she’d every had. One thing this show does quite well is find these quirky content items and, instead of them just being one on-air break where they talk about it, they make it something much bigger. Like Loren giving out all the details, then asking listeners to help find the person who made the cupcake so they could have more, even moving this to talk with that person once they figure out who it is. This is a narrative in real time, across a period of the show, with the payoff of the conversation. Setup-details-payoff (beginning-middle-end), which is the perfect structure for all breaks. Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David understood the power of taking something small and turning it into unique content. This show does, too.
Doing things in real time is always powerful. Beloved local weatherman Scott Haney went missing from his TV station in Hartford, CT. Scott’s the guy you have in your market who’s known and beloved by all. Christine and Salt, 96.5 TIC-FM, Hartford know Scott, too. He’s been on their show and helped them with content many times. Calling Scott offline, they found out that Scott and his doctors feared he was infected with the coronavirus. Scott was doing the weather from his home, so viewers knew what was going on with him, too (the power of character development and vulnerability – the audience caring about you is amazing). Scott consented, once the results came in, to reveal them to Christine and Salt’s audience, as well. A powerful moment and payoff to a narrative that resonated with them. Hear the reveal below – then find stories happening in real time for your show and bring the audience in, too.
If you interview a musician in your format, please don’t talk with them only about their latest project. Make sure to tie them into the topic(s) of the day to get their take. Hawkeye and Katelyn, KSCS, Dallas had chance to talk with country superstar Sam Hunt. Set aside the real reason they got him (Sam was promoting something), they knew to make Sam even more relatable to the audience, the conversation had to be relevant to the day – which means exploring how the coronavirus has affected Sam’s life. In doing their due diligence, they found out that Sam’s wife had interest in installing a bidet in their house. So, they went there, as did Sam. Yes, they did get to the reason Sam came on. Hear not only how accessible this conversation makes him to the audience, but how fun it is to learn this about one of the format’s superstars. The audience wants vulnerability and to be let in – this did that! There is never a time in this conversation where Sam is not smiling, which makes it a great, entertaining conversation.
To truly resonate with the audience, we must understand where they are emotionally. We need to really connect with where their lives are in the middle of the coronoavirus crisis. In many respects, that’s easy if you have a life like them. Worlds get smaller when there is something like this. One of our jobs is to communicate to the audience who won’t call (98% of the them) that they are not alone in their experiences. Lots of phone calls do that. Let regular listeners come on to talk about what’s going on with them – their wins and frustrations – and that will talk to everyone else. This is a simple, but very powerful break from John and Tammy, KSON, San Diego, who let listeners come on who are over being stuck inside with their kids. Hear the raw emotion in the callers voices as they tell their stories and how John and Tammy connect with them to tell theirs – all leading to fun conversations that say to the audience, “we’re all in this together.”
With Tom Brady now leaving the New England Patriots, let’s revisit this theme day done by The TJ Show, AMP 103.3, Boston from the beginning of the season when the Pats started playing in the fall. Knowing the power of Tom Brady as a celebrity and the necessity as entertainers to tell stories, TJ, Loren, and Producer Matt decided to do Tommy Tales. Lots of of their listeners had occasion to meet Brady given his many years as the Patriots quarterback. We also knew that even if the listener had met him ten years ago, they’d relive it like it was yesterday. Stories are how we connect and define ourselves – the very best ones have details that make it come to life and keep it memorable. Any great song in your format is a story. Every reality show you watch on TV crafts a story around the compelling characters on the program. To move your fans to care more about you, you tell them stories. Here is a compilation of stories told about Tom Brady that should entertain all.