Creating multiple, well-executed content breaks is the fastest way for an on-air talent to separate themselves from competing talent. But, doing that on a daily basis requires consistent show prep and a mastering of how to structure an on-air content break.
Here are the five keys to creating a successful content break.
1) Content selection: Obviously knowing which content to select starts with understanding the station’s core demographic. But, beyond that, we should dig deeper to identify the interests, lifestyle, political leaning, religion, and other characteristics, of the station’s P-1. That way we can tailor our content selection to relate to the majority of them and personalize and localize stories to fit our specific audience. I talk, and write, a lot about digital content creation. However, if we don’t know what content to talk about on-air, via our main platform, then we’re certainly not going to know what to talk about on our digital platforms. Nor will we know how to properly use them to drive traffic to those content segments and set those always important listening appointments.
2) The tease: If a content break is worthy of being on the air, then its worthy of a tease. A tease is a short statement at the end of the prior break that is specific enough to pique their interest, but vague enough to keep them guessing. NOTE: The tease should always point to the hook and not the out.
3) The hook: How we get into the break is often more important than the content itself, because if you don’t catch them with the hook they won’t hang out for the content. The hook is that attention grabbing comment that makes the listener turn up the radio and focus in on what your saying. Once identified the hook can often be used as verbiage for when the content break is shared to the web or social.
4) Content delivery: There’s an art to knowing just how many details to include in a content segment to set the scene and bring the listener along for the ride without confusing them. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but in my experience solo shows can typically deliver that content in thirty seconds or less and team shows can do the same in roughly sixty seconds. Often one or two details are left in for the sole purpose of setting up the out.
5) The out: I’ve caught a lot of flack for this opinion over the years, especially from seasoned broadcasters. But, I don’t think anyone should go into a break without at least a basic idea of how they’re going to get out of it. Granted that pre-determined, or backup out, should be abandoned if another out that’s better comes up organically. I stand by that controversial opinion because I still hear talented broadcasters who choose content that’s perfect for their audience, tease it well, set the hook, concisely and strategically work their way through the content and then lay an egg on the out because they expected to come up with something and clearly didn’t. It never hurts to have a backup plan and every out doesn’t have to sound like it was written by an award-winning comedy writer. Funny is always great, but outs can also be something that personalizes or localizes the content or just a statement that brings the thought to a close.
If you have not seen our daily Solo Show Prep, designed specifically for solo midday, afternoon and evening shows, then check out some of the previous days here. You can also request a free two week trial. It’s written verbatim because it’s also meant to be used as a rough template for how to construct breaks. I’d love to get your feedback on it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think.
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