Tips To Keep Them Listening Through Stopsets By Andy Meadows

I’ve written a lot about stopset length and how I believe radio needs to shorten their commercial breaks to better compete with our digital opponents. But, I get that not every station can switch to something as extreme as my minute model. So, with that in mind, here are some tricks and tips we can employ to keep our listeners tuning in throughout our stopsets. 

  • Run, ‘x minutes or less’ imaging going into stopsets to let them know how quickly we’ll return to programming (Or do so in our verbal teases). NOTE: There’s a delicate balance we want to strike here because it’s a mistake to paint commercials in a negative light (Since they fund our whole operations and we’ve worked hard to develop relationships with our advertisers). So, any verbiage about commercial breaks/stopsets should focus on the positives of our upcoming programming and avoid anything that disparages the spots themselves. 
  • Do contesting within stopsets by placing interactive and entertaining wedges in-between spots and another payoff wedge toward the end of the commercial break. I’ve heard stations do this with the ‘programming returns in x seconds’ imaging wedges within stopsets, but why not do some contesting as well to keep the listeners engaged (Similar to the little trivia/games they play if you show up early to the movies). 
  • Coaching all on-air personalities to create compelling, and unique on-air content daily and craft well-worded teases to that content strong enough to force listeners to stay with us despite the commercial interruptions.
  • Making our spots more entertaining so they sound like entertainment elements instead of ads. Yes, that’s easier said then done but we can at least move in that direction by a) moving back our production deadlines to allow our staffs to get more creative with the copy/production and b) utilize outside sources to supplement that creative.
  • Shortening our stopsets and putting hard minute and unit break limits in place. Even if we can’t move to the really short commercial breaks yet, we should at least shorten them up a little and set firm and UNBREAKABLE limits that we hold to throughout the year. That way we can image around those limits and include it in our pitch as part of our point of difference from other stations in the market. Every study I’ve ever seen that showed people are just as likely (or nearly as likely) to tune out if a stopset is three minutes or six minutes had some flaws in how it was conducted (in my opinion). Besides it being simple human nature, our listeners (young and old) have been trained for years now to listener to shorter and less intrusive commercial breaks across all other platforms. It’s impossible for that to not have an effect on their listening habits now and going forward. 

What do you think? Comment below or email me at

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