To create engaging breaks, radio should focus on timely tidbits, local happenings, and reveal themselves
Faced with more competition than ever, radio stations need to make sure their listeners stick around for talk breaks rather than tuning out. The good news for AM/FM stations? Audiences want to hear what hosts have to say. In fact, listeners routinely say their favorite DJs and hosts are a top reason they use local radio. Talk breaks give these popular personalities a chance to speak directly to their audience, engage them on quirky or newsworthy topics, give a glimpse behind the curtain, or get personal. To make the most of breaks radio hosts and producers should plan and program these segments. Understanding that it takes 5 minutes of listening within a 15 minute period to get ratings credit helps us strategize length and content of these breaks as well.
When it comes to breaks, you want to sound as fresh as possible. If you’re a country station, your listeners want the latest music news and celebrity gossip. Sports listeners are hungry for info and insights on their hometown teams. Pop stations can dish on pop culture news and fun factoids to entertain younger fans, like it being National Avocado Day or National Leftover Day and local celebrations or promotions. Radio hosts can share details about their lives and interests. (Listeners really do want to hear about your dating life and your new puppy!) In these breaks you have the audience’s attention, so don’t waste the opportunity.
Of course, radio hosts and producers are already multi-tasking media mavens juggling on-air, digital, and social responsibilities. Here are four suggestions for making your breaks as engaging as possible:
Hot topics in your community
Radio stations are local experts, so there’s no one better to share news and information about happenings in your community. During talk breaks, music stations can share news about upcoming concerts and events while also plugging events your station is sponsoring and where talent is making appearances. You can also clue listeners in on up-and-coming acts that might be coming to town as well as intimate venues they should check out. Similarly, news and talk stations can keep listeners up to date on local news and current events including any newsmakers coming to town or gatherings. Sports stations can dish on local players and teams as well as upcoming opponents and the best tailgates in town.
Give them the best industry news
When it comes to dishing on the latest news and gossip, you need to be as plugged in as possible. Listeners expect their favorite DJs and hosts to be in the know. Music format talent should be as up to date as possible on pop culture, celebrity news, and music information, and they should be ready to share that information like a newscaster. Likewise, sports stations can comment on developments in your team’s league or conference and information on teams and sports. Establish your over the air, digital, mobile, and social brand as the go-to resource for your audience’s latest news and information needs and your breaks will become indispensable.
Craft conversation starters and destinations
Listeners often view breaks as water cooler moments that give them fodder to use in casual conversations throughout the day. To facilitate those moments, radio hosts should be on-point with trends, quirky tidbits, and oddball news, and as they then relay that to your audience and tell them how it impacts your life. This can even be a way to tie in advertisers. For instance, if it is National Ice Cream Day, tell your listeners about your favorite flavors or failed attempts at making homemade ice cream. You can also direct them to a local ice cream shop for free cones. With effective breaks, you can help guide listeners’ conversations as well as drive them to local businesses.
Keep an eye on what’s fading
While it is important to stay on top of news and trends, you also need to know what’s fading out. These may be topics that you want to avoid, such as a song that’s past its prime or a celebrity who has faded from public view. If the audience thinks you’re out of touch with what’s cool and interesting you lose your platform as a must-listen during breaks. Take note of the topics in your industry that seem to have lost their luster, whether that’s an overplayed song, an overexposed talent, or a meme that’s had its five minutes run out.
At Futuri Media, we know AM/FM stations need help tracking news and trends. Our TopicPulse tool is like insurance for your talk breaks. We track what topics and conversations are trending or fading with your specific target audience so you can focus on your live broadcast, and make sure any voicetracked content is as fresh as possible once it airs. As a real-time story discovery tool, TopicPulse’s AI curates news and information from social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as more than 100,000 verified news sources. We track what’s popular, what is emerging, and what’s fading.
With TopicPulse, hosts and producers can quickly and easily find fodder for talk breaks, social posts, on demand content, and more! The web-based tool allows you to search by format, topic. and even keyword to find information and news stories that are relevant and interesting to your listeners. Based on our live-tracking, TopicPulse can see what topics are trending and what is burning out. During a live radio broadcast it is invaluable to know what your audience is searching for and reading about in real-time. Our system tracks what is about to go viral, and you can’t get much more up-to-the-minute than that.
TopicPulse also offers IdeaStarters™ that are updated in the TopicPulse app throughout the day and delivered via e-mail twice daily to prep for AM and PM drive. These packaged talk break content offerings feature talking points and even pre-written script suggestions that your hosts can plug and play.