Blink 182's Guide To Better Radio Promos
A wise punk pop band once said "All the small things", and I think they're onto something. Mind you in the chorus of the same same song they also said "na na na na na na na na na na, na na na na na na na na na na" which isn't quite as profound so maybe they won't give Confucius a run for his money after all.
Here's why all the small things matter - they're what we amplify to make great radio. Especially when it comes to breakfast and drive shows. You take one little idea and make it into a conversation. Eventually the audience joins that conversation and the next thing you know it's evolving into bunch of great content.
The same principle can be applied to show promos. By building upon and amplifying a small highlight we can take things to the next level.
Basic show promos generally go like this - a voice over says the name of the team, followed by a twenty second highlight from the show, and then to finish off the voice over sets an appointment to listen to the show the next day. Done. Don't get me wrong - these sort of show promos can be good, even great when the bit from the show is absolutely killer. But there's room to be more creative, especially if the daily highlight promos are starting to sound a bit formulaic and predictable.
So how can we amplify all the small things in a breakfast promo? Allow me to play you some examples in a minute. Each of them contains a grab from a someone on the show. Then I've built upon the grab by having that someone record a set it up. All I really had to do was write a contradictory setup for them to voice. 'Contradiction comedy' is covered in detail in my book. It's a good, compact structure for making jokes.
In addition, I added flow to the script by using the same term 'happen' or 'happening' throughout. This works like a theme or motif which ties the whole thing together. Photographers and graphic designers use this technique a lot. By repeating a similar shape or colour throughout an image you can make people keep looking from one similar shape to the next, keeping their interest longer. The same applies to sound - I'm using the term 'happen' to give repetition and therefore cohesion to the promo.
Did you notice that the scripts also adhere to the much loved 'rule of threes', meaning that there are three distinct sections - "what they think happened", "what actually happened" and "it's all happening on the show"? Beginning, middle, end. Most stories, movies - and for that matter most content with narratives - contain this overarching structure of three parts. It just works.
As I said earlier - there is nothing wrong with regular show highlight promos. But if you want to stand out from the opposition, you're going to have to do something that they're not. Going to the next level with how you use your show highlights is a pretty good way to stay ahead of the production pack!