When developing topics on the air, nothing matches perspective. It’s everything. It makes the difference between shows. And finding perspective requires time spent in preparation. There really aren’t any shortcuts.

Check out this EKG graphic of the moment-by-moment responses from actual listeners:

EKG Chum Entertainment-TV SHows


This break is the entertainment report on a very popular (as in, #1) radio station. It scores moderately well immediately, but the real point of interest is obvious. It spikes. So, what happened in this break that caused the audience to suddenly become highly engaged?

They added their perspective on the topic of cheating. This was in response to facts presented about a celebrity.

Then they talk about what’s on TV tonight…more facts…and the audience responded with a yawn.

This takes talent, of course, but it also demands an investment in preparation. Most shows spend either: a) too much time in preparation, and the show comes off sounding stiff and rehearsed or scripted, or b) too little time, and it’s spontaneous, but sloppy and poorly defined.

In Content Superhero, we talk often about doing fewer things with greater focus. You might thinking that makes this job easy. But it’s not. It’s about putting more time, effort and resources into building fewer things and making them bigger. That has tremendous leverage. It pays off.


When one of our clients embraced this concept, talent found that it actually added about almost two hours per day to their prep time. Curating content to fit the show’s personality takes time.

In Content Superhero, we’ve shown a lot of elements that can help you on your path to #1. But the most popular question we’ve had is a simple one:

What is the most important thing we can do to attract an audience?

The answer is simple, and it’s clear: Make them laugh.

Just as we’re looking for relationships that make us smile, laugh and have a great time, listeners seek the same from air talent.

In fact, nothing beats funny on the air. It covers a multitude of shortcomings.

But it has to be truly funny. Not just a air talent that thinks they’re funny, or are funny only to each other. And truly funny is a rare characteristic.

And it has to be naturally funny, not forced funny. Or contrived funny.

Here are actual quotes from listeners responding to the question, “What do you want from a radio personality?”

I want someone with personality and a sense of humor. I need to smile, especially in the morning

What make me listen? Make me laugh. But don’t be a dick. Be funny, clever, quick.

Can you succeed with a show that isn’t funny? Yes. Of course. But not like you can with funny.



It’s happened before, and it will happen again. In fact, we are certain that we have several clients in the process of making it happen at this very moment.

Dramatic ratings gains, such as Doubling Your Ratings, or growing from #10 to #1 is not as complex as you think. In fact, it’s usually simply leveraging the power of the one thing, a radio adaptation of the concepts detailed by Gary Keller in the book, The One Thing.

The idea is to find that one feature you’re really great at. Focus on it, develop it, curate it as a meaningful brand and make it famous.

Life Cycle of The One Thing

Here’s how it worked for one of our clients:

Screenshot 2015-07-18 16.26.54


When the feature began, the show was #10. Three months later, we had already grown to #5. At this point, the feature was getting buzz with our cume, and we thought it was a hit. So we tested it. Results were positive, giving us the confidence in the next few weeks to increase the profile to become an hourly feature.

Almost like magic, the station popped to #3, then #1. That’s the power of one great feature!

What’s your one? Maybe it’s a relationship feature, or a game, or Tough Love segment. Maybe it’s prank calls, like this:



Need ideas to find your one thing? Check out the Top 10 Personality Features here.

In Content Superhero 3: Content That Rocks, we emphasize that storytelling skills are a key to winning. How can you develop those skills?

It starts with understanding story structure, delivering it with drama and making it memorable by branding each segment.


There are five steps to master the mechanics of constructing a break with storytelling skills:

  1. Hook. A magazine attracts attention to their story by the headline. Your hook serves the same function. This is where you seek to capture their interest, and you have to make in personal (for them), relevant and fast. There’s no time to waste. You have 6-8 seconds to get the hook in and lure them deeper into your contest. The hook should rarely be about you, but rather to set up your story that supports the hook.
  2. Set Up. In the magazine metaphor, the set up is the first paragraph. It’s designed to pull you into the rest of the article. Your set up should be quick and to the point, the first step toward the Payoff. This is where you develop the topic so they understand where the segment is going. What drama will you create? Why is it important? How can you set it up in one line? One phrase? Once they’re hooked, give them enough detail to hold the interest. In some cases, such as the Jeff & Jer segment below, your personal story can serve as the setup, particularly if you are inviting listener participation.
  3. Dress Up. In this step, you accelerate toward payoff. How will you embellish, exaggerate, provide detail and color? How does every piece take the audience toward the payoff? This is usually where your personal story could be used. If it’s a phone topic, and your story was parts of the set up, this is where listener interaction comes into play.
  4. Payoff. The most critical element of the process is having an exit. What’s the outcome? The end of the story? What is your out? Some bits don’t have a natural punchline, but rather depend on the talent’s ability to know when a peak has been reached and getting out quickly.
  5. Black Out. Once it’s over, it’s over. Many great breaks are ruined going for one more punchline, one more joke, one more phone call, one more payoff. Find your exit and take it.

Just as in flying a plane, the critical points are take-off and landing, and in storytelling, the most important steps are the HOOK and the PAYOFF. For more on how to execute the five steps:

Go Here Now


Execute With Drama:

Build suspense and expectation into everything you do. It’s how you keep listeners on the edge of their seat. Adding the “What’s going to happen next”  factor into your content is why listeners say in focus groups:

They made me late for a meeting because I had to sit in the parking lot to hear the end of their story.

This is the art of sharing your character/personality through the story, telling it in a way that reveals who you are on the air.

In doing so, build additional hooks into the telling of the story that makes it easier to digest. The TV show Seinfeld was great at this. Remember all the classic episodes that become part of pop culture by establishing catch-phrases such as:

Master of My Domain

The Marble Rye

Yada Yada Yada

The Low Talker

And many more.

For more on the genius of making content more repeatable, go here.


Brand Each Segment:

Here’s another reason branded features work well for radio shows. It provides a frame that helps them quickly “get” the stories and makes it easy to share with friends.

Watch the response to this amazing feature, which is really nothing more than a content container to make the story more relevant.

This is an episode of  Second Date Update: