Add Color To Every Break By Ize-Ing Content [audio]

Add Color To Every Break By Ize-Ing Content [audio]

by Tracy Johnson

A pillar of performance is relating to an audience on their terms. Personalities that exude warmth by demonstrating their character traits in every break Advance quickly along the Personality Success Path. For some, it seems to come naturally. Others have to work at it. But every personality can fill each segment with more color by learning a simple concept. I call it ize-ing content.

Ize-ing content falls into four categories:

  • Energize
  • Supersize
  • Personalize.
  • Localize.

It’s amazing how much more exciting a radio show sounds when applying the concept each time the mic is on. Sean Ross once critiqued the current generation of radio personalities as people who “talk a lot but have nothing to say”.

This can be turned around by inserting relatable comments, phrases, and observations that show we are real human beings.

What IZE-ing Content Is All About

Personalities often jam too much information into too little time. They gather facts and try to get it all on the air. The result is too much information and too little entertainment.

This applies to teases, promos, station liners, and contests as well as open breaks.

Ize-ing content is the art of using fewer facts to tell short stories that make emotional connections by painting a word picture.  

Infusing relatable content into a radio show is like a relatability steroid that causes personalities to sound more in touch immediately.

Here’s how to start practicing the four izes.


Here are examples of personalities failing to connect to the listener with generic language that could be exciting with a simple adjustment.

Hey, are you having fun on your weekend? At least you have some time off. Me? I’m stuck at work playing the Throwback Weekend for you.

Critique: This attempt to relate to the listener is a total waste of time. It’s generic and self-absorbed. To listeners, being on the radio is not work. It’s fun. They’d love to be “stuck” in the studio having fun with the throwback weekend.

Let’s fix it by energizing it:

It’s another Throwback Weekend and there’s no place I’d rather be than kicking back with you, windows down, music up, and (artist) singing (song) on (Station). Are you feeling it?

Here’s another generic, ineffective segment:

It was a big weekend at the box office for (hot new movie). I didn’t see it yet, but the reviews this morning are terrific

Critique: Yawn. Who cares? This is a break that is just an excuse to say the name of a movie to try and sound relevant. But why sound out of touch with what’s happening in the world? As a trend-setter and leader in the world of pop culture, at least leave the impression that you did. And why even call attention to reviews? I can’t think of a good reason.

The fix, with energy:

Everyone’s talking about (hot new movie) this morning. I’m still trying to figure out how to rank it: (Main Actor’s) Great performanc or (Main Actor’s) greatest performance.

For details on how to energize word choices, go here.


The most valuable of all personality skills is the ability to draw listeners close by being uniquely personal. With a little time and effort, anyone can tell short stories around the listener’s lifestyle.

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Here are a few examples:

Thanks for turning us on this morning, including Paula and Shannon. They carpool with their kids to school at (name the school), and Paula told me her 6th grader has her hooked on (our station). Awww, thanks so much. You made our day! And to her daughter Chelsea: Good luck on that history test today. Here’s (song) to get you ready!

Another new listener is checking in this morning. Brenda just found us on her way HOME from the late shift at the hospital and tells us that she can’t get enough of that new Maroon 5 song. And she’s standing by for (contest coming up in 10 minutes). Brenda, your chance to win is coming up at 8, if you can stay awake that long.

Maggie just called – she’s fighting the snow to get to her first day of work at (local office park) this morning and she’s afraid her new boss won’t understand that she’s late because traffic is a nightmare. You’re not alone, Maggie! Hang in there. Hey, if you have an idea for excuses for being late to work, call me. We’ll help her out this morning.

None of these examples are world-class breaks. That’s not the point. Ize-ing content helps the show shake hands on the air.

Using the listener’s name (even if making it up) is a simple technique that causes amazing things to happen: Content is more colorful and interesting, relevant references fit into the show naturally, and it sounds like everyone is listening.

A side benefit: Soon, listeners will be calling or texting real stories to hear their name on the air.

Find out more about personalizing talk segments here.


Super-size content by making it larger than life with word pictures.

Here’s a great example from Sarah Taylor at Spirit 105.3 in Seattle:

This promotion is for a station promotion, but it’s not filled with details about how and where to get tickets or who is the opening act.

Sarah paints a picture, taking listeners there with rich details. The beauty is in the details.

  • She doesn’t just mention scones. It’s warm scones, fresh out of the oven.
  • And you don’t have just one, but one in each hand.

Anyone can read liner cards. Personalities paint a picture by saying it like nobody else.

Here’s a show that demonstrates how much they love the station and embrace the music. This is Jagger & Kristi, the morning show on Magic 92.5/San Diego:

Word pictures help listeners see themselves in the short story. When they feel it personally, it becomes larger than life in their mind.


The fourth concept is to localize. Being local is more than just saying you’re Live and Local or having an address on Main Street. It’s a commitment to sound like the community.

Localizing a station isn’t hard. Here are a couple of ways:

  • Reference local landmarks, streets, neighborhoods, and businesses as often as possible.
  • Adapt non-local stories to have a local angle. The story may have happened in Louisville but can be connected to your city with minimal effort. Start with “Imagine being a teacher at Springfield Elementary and a student came to school with her pet….goat. That happened in Louisville yesterday…”
  • Find local experts and interesting characters and make them famous by being on your show.
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For more examples, get a detailed guide on how to be more local here.

Artistry In the Ize-s

So how can personalities start ize-ing? It’s actually quite easy. Just focus on preparing every possible opportunity to be more colorful. It takes discipline at first. But it soon gets easier.

Here’s a great example from Dave & Candice, the morning team on Life 102.5/Madison. The Christian AC duo is a warm, friendly show that relates to their community. Listen to this conversation that delivers the weather forecast in a most relatable way:

That’s the kind of artistry that’s missing from many of today’s personalities, partly because broadcasters have programmed much of the art out of most stations. We’re so focused on editing talk breaks to the essentials but the entertainment value has disappeared with it.

Sean Ross had a similar observation:

Can we not bond with listeners over anything better than “more music, better variety”? Because we certainly can’t bond with listeners over “more music, better variety.”  Perhaps it’s because of voice tracking. But this often leads to a lot of “breaks from nowhere.” There are live promos for ongoing station promotions that don’t sound any different from the one heard a few months ago. Or it’s the litany of jock-isms inserted between songs in a way that stops the momentum and makes the bit sound canned.


Ize-ing content won’t win a Marconi award. And it’s not a substitute for compelling segments. It’s about making those segments come alive with more colorful and exciting language that connects with listeners.

It may seem like a small thing, but little things add up to mean a lot.

Opportunities are everywhere. Start tomorrow. It’ll energize your show!


Radio Personality Success Path: The Five Stages of Growth

The Difference Between Relevant and Relatable

How To Shake Hands On The Air

6 Paths to Emotional Radio

How To Sound More Local On the Air

How To Localize Your Radio Station

Saying You’re Local and Being Local Are Two Different Things

Do You Polish Entertainment Out Of Your Show?

School Shout Outs Are A Great Way To Localize

How To Energize Talk Breaks

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