by Tracy Johnson
I work with an air personality on a pop music station that has fallen into a rut. She is stuck and needs to find new ways to entertain the audience while executing the basics. She feels creatively challenged to find new ways to introduce songs.
Most air personalities fall into habits when repeating format elements time after time. It’s how the human brain is wired. We tend to create mental shortcuts to make it easier. But with time and attention, it’s possible to show personality while embracing and promoting songs.
Remember the legendary Casey Kasem? American Top 40 was a virtual how-to guide for telling stories about songs and artists. His style may be dated, but the techniques still apply. Casey always sounded like he loved the music he was playing. Songs sounded better when Casey played them!
And that’s important. In a NuVooDoo study, respondents indicated they loved the idea of air personalities picking the songs:
Yet, how many times does it sound like DJs are invested in the music they play? Not very often.
This is particularly important for personalities in the Introduction or Familiarity Stage of their Personality Success Path. Building this skill is a form of ize-ing content in every break. It’s an important part of building a fanbase as personalities grow.
Overcoming the redundancy of generic breaks can be a hard habit to break. Many times, it comes off sounding stiff or formal. Like this:
Here’s the latest from a woman who launched her career at the age of 16, and two years later was opening for Jay-Z.
Critique: Listeners are not impressed with an encyclopedic knowledge of facts. Instead, use the information to add to a more interesting break.
Admit it, when you first heard Rihanna’s song (title…with hook playing in background), you liked the song, but never guessed she would become THIS…her 16th #1 song, and she’s not even 30…I think I was still living in my mom’s basement playing Super Mario Brothers. Here’s (song)
Here’s another example of infusing a simple intro with color:
Right now, (artist) is relaxing on the beach in Saint Tropez, working on her tan, writing a new hit and figuring out how to spend all that money from (song)…Here’s (artist) on WXXX.
Applying this skill throughout a show in small bits makes a huge difference. And it’s easy to gather the information that inspires song intros.
If you want to encourage each personality to create their own content (recommended), here’s a 3H technique (Head, Heart, Hand) developed and used by Content Controller Alex Vladev at Viking FM in Yorkshire (U.K.).
Here’s how it works:
Use Head to give a fact about the song or artist.
This is Barack Obama’s favourite Beyoncé song. I’m pretty sure Michelle likes it too. It’s so catchy! Here is Sweet Dreams on Viking FM’ or ‘Taylor Swift is nominated in 6 categories for this year’s MTV VMA in London. Her new song has the most viewed video on You Tube this year. Here is ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ on Viking FM’
The Heart is how they feel about a song. It offers an opportunity to share personal insights. For example:
I really love the new Dua Lipa song – it reminds of my bad relationships. Here it is – ‘New Rules’ on Viking Fm’
The Hand is more of a call-to-action. It could be about getting your hands on some tickets. For example:
Katy Perry plays in Leeds tonight and you can win front row tickets tomorrow morning from 8 with Alex, here is her latest song Swish Swish on Viking FM’ Or they can use a song as an opportunity to cross promote a celebrity gossip segment or interview ‘I’m playing you a classic by Craig David next. Can’t wait to hear him on the evening show with Darryl tonight. Hope he shares how he keeps his 6 pack in shape.’
Alex requires personalities to rotate these 3 techniques, which keeps music presenting fresh, relevant, and personal on a daily basis.
Sometimes personalities just need a nudge to get un-stuck. Here’s a resource for all personalities (especially solo shows) to get moving.
Here’s (artist) with (song) on WXXX
Now, (song) by (artist) on WXXX
(Artist) is on…now on WXXX
WXXX with (artist)
(Song)….(artist) is on WXXX
Here’s (song) by (artist) on WXXX
WXXX plays (song)….here’s (artist)
The song is (title)…the artist is (artist)…the station is WXXX
WXXX playing (artist)
Here comes (artist) with (song) on WXXX
In the summer of 2012, you were standing in line for tickets to see the opening of the biggest movie of all time…Marvel’s The Avengers…and while you were in line, this was playing on your phone…(song) by (artist) on WXXX.
Now, a song by an artist that saw 7 songs in a row reach the Top 10….in the 80s and 90s…Here’s Whitney Houston with on WXXX.
What was (city’s) #1 song from (this month) two years ago…by a singer that you haven’t heard from since? I’ll tell you in four minutes, and play the song you may have forgotten…Now, here’s the song that defined (artist’s) career…It’s (song) on WXXX.
Hey, (Listener name)…thanks for hanging with me today. Here’s that (artist) song you asked for…(Song) on WXXX.
Now here comes another song from a guy who’s turning out more hits than (local Mexican Restaurant) cranks out tacos…and this one is just as hot as the spicy jalapeño sauce…It’s (song) by (artist) on WXXX.
Remember when (Artist) played at WXXX?, and this was a highlight (Short excerpt of the live version of the song)… It’s (Song) on WXXX.
Sometimes it’s hard to find ways to entertain and relate, especially with song intros getting shorter. But it can be done, even with just a few seconds to work with.
Okay, your turn. Let’s add to the list. Send along your favorite techniques to introduce songs by email [email protected] I’ll keep this list updated as a resource for the whole community.
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