Mon. Sep 24th, 2018

Don’t Tell Them The Party is Over

Since I got my promotion here at Barrett Sports Media, I have been listening to shows all over the country. The idea is to examine trends. Who is doing what well? What seems to be a problem across the industry? You get it.

I’ve discovered a lot of new favorite shows. I like the chemistry Dale & Keefe have on WEEI. I like Altitude 950’s Nate Kreckman’s delivery. Anthony Stalter at 101 ESPN in St. Louis writes and delivers killer teases.

That last one is what I want to talk about today, because I have listened to more than a few shows since I started doing this that I flat out don’t like, and as I look back through my notes, I noticed that they all have problems with teasing what is coming up. Some shows don’t do it right. Some don’t do it at all. 

It’s not lost on me that any of us that work in radio, listen to radio differently. Maybe the Average Joe listening in his car doesn’t consciously care if he is told what is coming up after the commercial break, but whether that Average Joe knows to listen for a tease or not, he is conditioned to be teased.

TV shows train us to be teased. Think about all of the shows that go to commercial just before we know how a conflict is resolved or before that week’s winner is revealed. It’s not like Kristen Bell looks right into the camera and says “Can the gang avoid being discovered and sent to the Bad Place? We’ll tell you when The Good Place returns”. In those settings teasing looks and sounds different. 

Segments and whole shows end on cliffhangers. We see commercials advertising what is coming up “next time on…” throughout the week. The fact is American pop culture has been training audiences to stay through the commercial break since entertainment started being broadcast directly to us.

If you’re a host or a producer, you have put a lot of effort into developing your show’s content. Why wouldn’t you do all you can to get people to hear it? Listeners won’t automatically change the station or switch over to Spotify or iTunes if you don’t tease, but if you don’t tease anything before the break, you are sending the message that the conversation is over. 

Have you ever been to a party where there are a lot of people, but you end up in a great conversation with one other person or maybe a small group of people? It doesn’t matter what the conversation is about or why you are attracted to the people you’re talking to. You’re just super engaged. Well, super engaged, but you really have to pee. You hold it as long as you can, but eventually you give in and excuse yourself to go to the bathroom. 

By the time you come back, that vibe you were feeling is over. Maybe the small circle has broken up or the one person you were talking to has moved on to other conversations. Whatever the case, the moment you excused yourself, you signaled the party was over. Those people you were talking to at the party went looking for something else to do. See what I’m getting at here?

You’re doing the same thing when you go to break without teasing. Not everyone has to be Mike Greenberg, who is an absolute master. You do need your listeners a reason to stick with you through the show’s bathroom break. Otherwise the message is “this party is over”.

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