by Tracy Johnson
When you hear the term GIFS, you probably think of a funny, animated photo that finds its way into your email box. But this GIFS is a system that could be just what is needed to add consistency and structure to a radio show.
One of the most common questions from clients is how to set up a radio show that gives their station the best chance to improve quickly. Of course, there are as many answers to this question as there are personalities. But there are some fundamental elements that can make a show balance and give it that consistency that helps listeners figure out how to use you.
GIFS is an acronym that stands for Game, Information, Funny and Story.
GIFS has nothing to do with content, personality or character traits. It has everything to do with how you create and program that content so your personality can stand out.
Radio shows should be designed so listeners can play along. Build in interactive elements that engage your audience. This could be actual games, like $1,000 Minute or Heads Up, or it could be phone topics that include audience response.
It’s not just literal games, though. In GIFS, Games means any method for the audience to interact.
Gamifying content is making it fun to play along. That could, but doesn’t have to, include actual phone callers or physical reactions.
It means to add content that causes the listener to be engaged with your show. That could be as simple as a multiple choice tease that plays like a game.
This is a broad category that includes news, weather, traffic and sports. Or it could be events happening in the community. Or an entertainment report. It may be a style and fashion update. Or one of the popular Good News features many shows use.
Some shows, like Free Beer And Hot Wings have a daily feature where Hot Wings gives a short commentary on social issues.
What you do for information will vary by format and market. Think of this category as a demonstration to the listener that you’re in touch with what’s happening in their world.
Nothing beats funny on the air. Nothing. Make listeners laugh and you own them. But you have to be truly funny, or at least create funny situations.
This can’t be over-emphasized. It’s critical. It’s the #1 character trait for radio personalities.
By the way, fun is not funny. Fun is important. But while fun may make me feel good, it doesn’t make me laugh. And making listeners laugh is priceless.
There are several ways to become funnier, outlined here. One method is to import it. Check out the features Tough Love With Siri and Alexa, a daily feature with voice assistants answering life advice questions in a most unexpected way.
Or, consider a phone prank feature like Phone Jibba, which is one of the funniest things you’ll hear on any radio station. It’s a daily, self-contained prank call feature.
The fourth letter a segment your audience can get involved with by following a story as it unfolds. Relationship features like Second Date Update and War Of the Roses are successful because they are content containers for great stories.
Along with making people laugh, learning to tell stories is a critical skill for every personality. Not everyone is a great storyteller, but every air personality can be a much better storyteller by studying it.
The next step is programming the show so listeners are exposed to the four qualities consistently.
Start by deciding what percentage each of the four GIFS should represent.
Few shows will be a strict 25% for each category. Maybe it’s 50% Funny, 30% Story and 10% Information And Games. Find the ideal formula, then start creating features to hold GIFS.
Here are is a simplified example, with each category having equal weight and a show that executes four main breaks per hour:
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