Lead Listeners Through Segments By Dropping Audio Bread Crumbs [audio]

Lead Listeners Through Segments By Dropping Audio Bread Crumbs [audio]

by Tracy Johnson

One of the most powerful techniques of building higher ratings is creating audio bread crumbs that entice listeners to stay through break after break.
That’s one of the key findings in Content Superhero: What Causes Tune In.
When air personalities build multiple layers of content in a break, listeners reward them with longer time spent listening.
And, if they do it in a way that allows listeners to get to know the characters, the audience begins to fall in love with the show.

In fact, getting the audience to another break should be the #1 goal of every segment.

That doesn’t mean the show should be a constant string of teases and promos with no content, of course. It means that there should be a series of related elements that cause existing listeners to crave more.

How Other Businesses Do It

This isn’t unusual. It’s the same in nearly every industry:

When you buy a car, the salesman’s primary job is to sell you the leather interior, an upgraded audio system, LoJack, under-coating and an extended warranty.

The goal of the waitress is to convince your table to stay and order dessert, an after dinner drink and coffee.

Starbucks offers special deals to return after 2pm for another drink.

Television dramas never end. They simply finish one story, while starting another that leaves you anticipating the next episode. Each episode provides answers but mostly raises more questions

McDonald’s always asks you to supersize your order or add fries.

Just like you, they’re simply extending engagement, and increasing profits.

4 Ways To Create Audio Bread Crumbs

How does this manifest itself on the air? Find ways to connect content and build drama from break to break and day to day. Here are several ways:

1. Build Drama & Pause

Introduce a topic, or story, leading listeners to stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion a few minutes away. Get them through commercials to hear the thrilling conclusion.

2. To Be Continued…

Build expectation from one day to the next. Start a storyline on one day, with a situation that needs conclusion. Pay it off tomorrow or Monday at the same time.

3. Leave Something Out

When delivering any information, don’t give all the details in a story. This applies to news, sports, entertainment and more. Here’s a great example of how to do it.

4. Paint a Picture for Expectation

Have a guest or celebrity coming on the air? Build anticipation and drama by promoting the question you’re going to ask. Better yet, play a short piece of audio to generate curiosity on the context of the response.

This is how story arcs are created. Listen to this break. It ticks all of those boxes.

But listen carefully to how it’s a perfect example of leading listeners through a segment by dropping bread crumbs.

The Bert Show’s Audio Bread Crumbs

Recently-engaged Kristin asks if how she’s feeling is normal:

Here’s Why This Work So Well:

Just when it feels like the topic is over, and time to wrap up, the show launches into another great question with good banter. It doesn’t end, but seamlessly transitions into another segment.

This leads listeners through a rather long segment (around 9 minutes) but it never feels too long. Great radio sin’t about how long the content lasts, but how well it maintains forward momentum.

The break also defines character for Kristin, as well as other cast members. It’s a great topic (weddings) for the target audience (women).

And it advances a story arc (her engagement) that plays out over multiple days, weeks and months leading up to her wedding.


Audio bread crumbs create a chain reaction, multiplying quarter-hours. It should be the primary goal every time you open the microphone.

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