No matter how good it is, if content doesn’t move forward, listeners move on.

Now don’t misinterpret this conclusion. Forward momentum has nothing to do with talking faster or louder. Momentum is all about energy, not shouting or hyping or rushing. Or even adding a music bed behind your break to artificially give the appearance of tempo.

It also has nothing to do with the length of breaks.It’s about efficiency.

Listeners get bored easily and quickly. The longer it goes, the greater the risk and the greater the pressure for higher quality content. As the break extends, you’re playing with fire because it’s harder to keep moving forward.

Remember the Seinfeld episode when George learned to take the first exit and get out on a high note? It’s the same with listeners. Each talent must develop an internal clock in the host’s head. This acts as the conscience of the listener.

Here are some common things that kill otherwise great breaks:

Here’s an example from Content Kryptonite, Chapter 1 in the Content SuperHero series:

Break is too long

Look at the EKG of this break. This is an episode of a popular feature “What Are You Doing at the Courthouse?

It’s great, until it stretches for one (or two) extra punchlines.

What could they have done?

All of the content in this break is quite strong. The problem is that when they reached the high point, that first perfect exit, the rest of the break wasn’t as strong. This could have been three separate breaks, each edited into episodes. Each break could have featured unique content leading up to the common punchline-the great story about the guy buying cigarettes. Now they’d have three breaks to play in one show, each slightly different, but all with the same strong payoff. And, building even more equity for the feature.


A big mistake most personalities make is in shallow preparation. They launch content with a strong topic but no plan of execution, hoping to magically find an exit. It usually doesn’t happen.

You hear this when content just drifts and wanders, looking for an out.

That’s why payoffs are so critical. And payoffs must happen regularly to keep them interested. A strong exit alone isn’t enough. Breadcrumbs must be dropped. These are mini-payoffs that keep breaks interesting.

Here’s the danger: Listeners lose attention quickly and it’s hard to get it back. They re-evaluate every 30-45 seconds and make decisions on whether it’s worthwhile.

Consider the graph of this break.

it just never takes off

The topic was terrific, but there’s limited interest. It never gets going. And worse, ½ of the audience has tuned out. They’re not coming back. There’s no hook, but worse, there’s no breadcrumbs that pay off for the attention invested.

The entire break is lower than the AVERAGE SCORE of ALL SONGS in the music test. This is an example of a show that talks too much from the time the microphone turns on. They would they be better served playing another song. In fact, any song in the station library.

Compare that to this break. this is Jagger & Kristi on Magic 92.5 in San Diego playing the game, Thousand Dollar Minute:

It’s a great example of a break that builds momentum through constant payoffs throughout.

When you drop breadcrumbs, with regular, consistent payoffs every 30-40 seconds, interest remains high and tune in stays strong!