3 Can’t Miss Bits That Work (Nearly) Every Time

3 Can’t Miss Bits That Work (Nearly) Every Time

by Tracy Johnson

There aren’t many radio segments you can count on to deliver listener response and attention for your show anytime you call on them. In fact, there are no sure things. But these can’t miss bits come as close as you can get.

First, a couple of qualifiers:

  1. Every show has strengths and weaknesses. No matter how great the idea seems to you, if it doesn’t your strengths, leave it alone. You can’t do it. Trying to do something that you’re just not good at will frustrate you and chase away listeners.
  2. Many times I suggest a segment and radio personalities immediately reject it because there’s something about it they don’t like. Don’t miss the bigger picture. Lots of ideas can work with adjustments that make it fit your personality brand.

Bit Success

There are several things that help measure whether or not a segment on the radio qualifies as a success. To be considered a can’t miss bit, here’s my criteria:

  • Is it Brandable? Is this something your audience will associate with your show? Can you brand the idea in a way that increases the chance that you’ll get credit for it?
  • Can listeners participate? They don’t have to be actively involved, but must be emotionally involved so they come back for more appointments, either later today or tomorrow (or both).
  • Does it spread? If it’s exciting, fun and engaging, make it easy for your captivated listeners to share it with friends, co-workers and on their social networks.

With this criteria in mind, here are the can’t miss segments that can be your go-to segments

Can’t Miss Bits: #1 Connecting Lost Relationships

Do you ever wonder what happened to the one that got away? Almost everyone does at some point. Telling a listener’s story and helping her make a connection with a lost relationship is addicting and powerful.

It’s easy for your audience to identify with a well-told relationship story. That’s why relationship topics and features are the most popular and successful features on many radio stations.

The story could be an old high school or college love, or it could be even more primal. Perhaps you are adopted and never met your birth mother or father? Or it could be a special story wrapped in a promotion that brings a family back together. Reuniting the storyteller with someone they lost ticks all of the boxes.

There are several ways to make this work. For best results, hire a Private Detective to track down the lost love. In the age of Google and Facebook, this may not be necessary but it adds drama to the segment. It’s worth it.

This can be a week-long story arc that brings listeners back each day.

Day 1: Finding a listener from callers on the One That Got Away topic.

Day 2: Listener comes in and tells their story on the air. Send the Private Detective out to do their thing.

Day 3: The investigator comes back with the results, but there is a twist or a complication. Build in relationship drama. Present it to your storyteller, and ask if he/she wants to go through with it.

Day 4: She gives her answer, and the Private Detective introduces the couple. Set them up with a date (if local) or a conversation (if not).

Day 5: Have them back on to get the results of what happened. How do they feel today? What is going to happen next?

All week, play upon emotions of “What could have been”, exploring regrets and possibilities.

Can’t Miss Bit #2: Psychic Secrets

This idea works for the same reasons magicians, psychics and fortune tellers are successful. Create a clever trick and protect the mysterious secret. There are several ideas including the this game and Snaps. This type of bit has tremendous potential but it’s important to set it up and manage it just right. It takes some organization but it’s worthwhile.

The Setup: Claim a special talent or ability that nobody else has. it should be something basically useless, but interesting. Obviously it has to be an audio “gift” for the air. For example, that you can tell what kind of car a listener drives by hearing the door slam or the horn honk.

Develop it: Of course, nobody will believe you. But keep making the claim over and over. Come up with a backstory that explains when you first realized you had the gift. Don’t demonstrate it at first. Just keep making the claim. Finally, promise to prove that you can do it. This sets an appointment, but only after you’ve developed the premise.

Execution: Here’s the trick, and it’s really pretty simple. But then, all the best tricks are. Ask callers to call and play the game with you.  But have a phone screener get the answer before they go on the air. They of course tell you and provide it before you take the call.

This bit can stretch across several days. Never reveal the secret. You can bring it back again in the future!

For the phone screener: It’s fine to tell the callers how it works and what you’re doing. Bring them in on the joke and have them exaggerate their response to your amazing abilities.

Making Dreams Come True

Nothing tugs at the heart like being unconditionally generous. And you can do this several times a year, as long as you tell different types of stories. During the holiday season, Breaking and Entering Christmas is a winner. You could also do the Bucket List promotion, which works as a short-term campaign or an ongoing feature. Granting wishes is another winner. Perhaps it’s a little more provocative like Kyle & Jackie O’s Give or Take.

But whatever the trigger that starts the bit, it’s all about telling a story. And that story can come from anywhere. Maybe it’s a single mom whose mini-van has been in an accident and she has no way to get to work or her kids to school. You can tell her story and replace her vehicle.

Stories like this are happening all around you. Be alert, creative and reactive. You can use all of them to drive listening and attention.


These three ideas may not be foolproof, but if you think it through, plan it and apply a little creativity, it’s pretty close. The great news is that you can apply the principles just about anytime and repeat the basic premise over and over.

What segments have you done that fit in these categories? Send your ideas. Or, what can’t miss bits can you add to this list? Reach me anytime here.

Photo Credit: Freepik.com
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