Features: What’s Your Carpool Karaoke?

Features: What’s Your Carpool Karaoke?

by Tracy Johnson

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). In fact, you probably don’t because most people don’t. Most don’t even know Carpool Karaoke is part of a show. They think it’s just a feature.

The point is that 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 has released it as a series on iTunes.

Carpool Karaoke is a great feature. And you can us the same principles to attract a larger fan base to your radio show or radio station.

So how can you find that one thing that can be your Carpool Karaoke?

First, understand that features are a powerful attraction for all shows, but especially for new and developing shows. If you’re in the Familiarity Stage of your Personality Success Path, features are almost a necessary thing to advance to the Growth Stage.

Value of Features

Listeners become familiar with your personality first because of the things you do. This is how they get to know you and can eventually become more loyal fans.

A great feature gives your personality a platform to show character so the audience can get to know you.

Features also add structure, which helps listeners know how to use your show. This helps with consistency while developing a relationship with the audience.

Features are a critical tool for air talent, if you choose the right ones and know how to use them.

Features On Your Show

Most shows have at least a couple of features, but most times they aren’t popular enough to attract an audience. Do you perform Hollywood News daily? That’s a feature. Or perhaps you have a weekly feature that’s performed on a certain day, like Talk Back Tuesday.

Those are fine, and may keep your current listeners, and that has value. but a Carpool Karaoke feature builds your brand and creates a buzz beyond the current listener base.

I’m talking about big, powerful features that listeners look forward to and tune in at specific times to hear. We’ve seen dozens of focus groups where listeners get excited when asked about a popular feature.

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In dial tests, the audience responds immediately when a familiar, popular feature comes on. They recognize it, look forward to it and often react positively even before the content begins. They know it’s something they like and expect something good is about to happen.

See the response in this dial-test chart for a feature called What Are You Doing At The Courthouse? The green line represents those listeners familiar with the show. The wavy white line is the total audience and the blue line is the station’s cume, but not show’s fans. The solid white line indicates the average score of all songs in this research project.

Notice how the green line rockets to the top as soon as the feature’s introduction comes on. That’s a sign of a strong brand.

Dial research results provided by Strategic Solutions Research.

By the way, this also gives us information that shows the feature should be heavily promoted. If more listeners knew about it, it could be a strong driving force.

Every show could use a feature or two like this. The question is, how many features do you need?

How Many Features Do You Need?

As with most things, the answer to this question varies. There’s no single right or wrong answer. Much depends on the nature of your show and where you are in your relationship with the audience.

We’ve had clients that rocket to #1 on the strength of just one great feature. Focused execution of the concept of The One Thing works.

Now that one feature won’t be the ONLY thing you do any more than James Corden only does Carpool Karaoke. Yet, a single-minded focus to make one feature famous will improve your odds of success.

After one feature is established and popular, you could add another. But remember: It’s not about how many features you have, but how strong each feature is. I hear show after show that has a lot going on, but nothing has a chance to stick.

So don’t worry about how many features you’ll have. Focus on developing one great one. When it’s established, consider another.

How to Create a Feature

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

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

Now match your personality to a feature. For example, if you’re all about pop culture, don’t do Hollywood News once or twice a morning. Do it every hour, and build in teases and mini-features in other parts of the hour. Make it famous.

Love stories about relationships? Second Date Update or Love em Or Leave em may be a fit.


James Corden would not be the celebrity he has become if it were not for Carpool Karaoke. That one thing has vaulted him into a position to be a celebrity. Good for him.

And good for you if you capitalize on the same concept to become a more prominent personality brand because of the features you introduce. Don’t fear the feature. Embrace it, develop it, curate it and promote it. That’s probably your fastest path to becoming the radio celebrity you want to be.

Winning Features & How To Program Them Seminar on Demand

A Library Of Feature Ideas

How To Execute Features On the Air 

eBook: Winning Features & How To Program Them

Radio’s Most Popular Features

Why Radio Features Are A Basic Building Block For Your Show

What’s Your Carpool Karaoke One Thing Feature?

Here’s Why You Should Have Branded Radio Features

Features Are Content Containers

Download My Feature Programming/Scheduling Tool Here

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