by Tracy Johnson
In our Content Superhero series, we explain how a slow pace kills breaks. Forward momentum is critical. This is point #3 in Content Kryptonite: What Causes Tune Out?
It seems obvious, but tune out is the biggest cause of ratings loss. It’s just that we don’t usually appreciate how serious this is. How about this: Air personalties lose up to 40% and more of their audience by violating the six most common causes of tune out.
But the most effective method of protecting against tune out is simple, though not easy. Every personality should develop the ability to manage the flow of content with a sense of the listener’s conscience. In other words, with a keen awareness of how your audience actually hears the break. When are they bored? When does it bog down? When does it need to move forward.
Talk host Mark Levin has an abrasive and aggressive style, as demonstrated with his lack of patience with what he feels is a weak caller. After berating them, he hangs up on them quickly. This plays to Levin’s unique character, but it also demonstrates that he’s moving the show forward by performing with his listener’s perspective entrenched firmly in mind.
Ideally, everyone on the show has a sense of forward pace and momentum, but it’s critical that at minimum, the host of the show is locked in on keeping it moving forward. They feel it as much as anything.
It’s not hard to develop this skill. You can do it by:
Preparation: Mentally rehearse the flow of a break. Identify potential trouble points and plan how you can respond if and when you run into trouble.
Review: Air check your show regularly (and critically) with the audience’s experience firmly in mind. If you were a listener, would you tune out? When?
Improvise: Develop your improv skills to keep breaks moving forward.