James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke is a feature on his television talk show. You may not know the name of his show (The Late Late Show). Most don’t even know Carpool Karaoke is part of a show. They think it is a show.

Carpool Karaoke is basically an interview that is a mashup of karaoke and a car ride with a friend. The concept is immediately familiar, which is a part of the magical appeal of this branded feature. But the real magic is that it unlocked the career potential of a likable personality.

You may have never heard of Corden if it weren’t for this signature feature. It’s a mini-brand that’s taken on a life of its own. It’s become so popular that Apple bought it and released it on iTunes. Now that there have been billions of views, it’s safe to call this feature a success.

Carpool Karaoke is a great feature. It’s not all Corden does, but it’s what he’s known for. It’s the first thing people think of when his name is mentioned. Branded features work.

So, how can radio personalities find their Carpool Karaoke?

First, understand that features are a powerful attraction, especially for new and developing shows. Personalities in the Familiarity Stage of the Personality Success Path need to be known for one thing to advance to Stage 3 (Growth).

A great feature is a Cume magnet that attracts a larger audience at a specific time for a specific reason. Features also add structure, which helps listeners know how to use a show. This helps with consistency. This allows the audience to get to know the character traits of the personalities.

The Power Of Features

Most shows have at least a couple of features, but not all features are audience magnets. I’m talking about big, powerful features that listeners look forward to.

We’ve seen dozens of research projects where listeners get excited about a popular feature.

Check out this dial-test chart (courtesy of Strategic Solutions Research) for a feature called What Are You Doing At The Courthouse? The green line represents listeners familiar with the show.

The wavy white line is the total audience, and the blue line is the station’s cume, but not fans.

The solid white line is the average score of all content in this project.

Notice how the green line rockets to the top as soon as the feature begins. Fans are familiar with it and look forward to it even before it starts. That’s the sign of a strong brand.

By the way, this also indicates that the feature should be heavily promoted. If more listeners knew about it, this could be a driving force for the entire show.

Every show needs a feature or two like this. And if you can afford it, a content study like this can be incredibly helpful. You’ll find which features have the most value and can become a strong mini-brand. For details, contact Strategic Solutions Research.

How to Create a Feature

The best way to find a feature is to start with a vision for the show’s brand. Is it to probe relationship issues? Are you an expert on pop culture? Start there.

Then, identify character traits. Are you funny? Edgy? Sentimental? Sincere? Patriotic? These traits factor into possible feature solutions.

Now, match the traits to a feature. For example:

  • If the show is all about pop culture, do Hollywood News every hour and build in teases and mini-features in other parts of the hour. Make it famous.
  • If a character is edgy and always taking risks, prank calls may be a good fit.
  • For shows that love stories about relationships, Second Date Update or Love em Or Leave em are possible options.

Whatever the choice, commit to it. Then, execute enthusiasm every single time. That sounds like obvious advice, but it’s one of the hardest things to maintain. It’s easy to get bored and invest less effort.

A great feature is like a hit song. Led Zeppelin has to play Stairway To Heaven at every concert or the audience is disappointed. A Rolling Stones concert wouldn’t be the same if Mick skipped Satisfaction because he was tired of it.

Country legend Johnny Cash learned the value of playing the hits.

I went through a period that I didn’t want to sing my old songs. Finally, I decided that I was really cheating the audience, and myself. I started singing all the old songs with gust and lust like I loved them. Those songs are a part of me. They’re an extension of me when I get in front of that microphone.
Features are like Johnny’s old songs. Play them with gust and lust, just like Johnny Cash.


James Corden would not be a celebrity were it not for Carpool Karaoke. That one thing became a programming wedge that has helped him become a celebrity. Good for him. You should capitalize on the same concept to become a more prominent personality by developing features.

Don’t fear the feature. Embrace, develop, curate, and promote them. Those hits are the fastest path to becoming the radio celebrity you want to be.

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