Recently, I wrote an article about the One Thought Per Break rule. The advice in the article is solid, but several programmers and personalities have abused their license to talk (or restrict talk) by cherry-picking parts of the article and ignoring other factors. So, let’s clear up potential misunderstandings.

First, review the article in detail, paying particular attention to the tips for success and action steps and understanding what is involved in executing this technique properly. You can do more harm than good if you don’t understand it or lack the experience and skills.

Having permission to explore more than a single thought per break is a great responsibility. Your audience tunes in for specific reasons. Listeners grant the license to talk. The original article also mentioned many variables to consider in executing more than one thought per break. Ignore them at your peril because violating audience expectations is the fastest way to chase them away.

Variables: The License To Talk

Why Do They Listen? In other words, where is your show on the Personality Success Path? Shows in Stage 5 (Love) have more runway than those in the early stages (Introduction, Familiarity, Growth, Like).

Format: There’s a common misconception that excellent execution varies by format. Different applications apply, but the principles are the same. One programmer told his morning show that multiple thoughts per break are fine for a talk show but not for a music-intensive show. I disagree. Listen to great talk shows. They stay focused more than most shows on a music-based station. Listeners will not put up with rambling, regardless of the format. The more significant issue is performing to your stage in the Personality Success Path.

Rating Measurement: There are differences between diary and metered markets, as explained in detail in my book The Ratings Game. Some personalities argue that since small markets are based on recall, listeners react better to more talk than PPM markets. That’s ridiculous. Being memorable may be slightly more critical in Diary markets, but that doesn’t mean listening patterns differ. All listeners tune out. They all have plenty of choices and will exercise those options quickly. Popular legacy shows have the luxury of getting more “votes” than less familiar shows, but that doesn’t mean listeners will tolerate more from them.

How Much Talk? The original article explains that managing multiple thoughts in a segment does not mean the talk break should be lengthened. That’s a different discussion. If you’re introducing a second thought, your primary focus must be tighter to fit into your talk window. How much should you talk? Follow the guidelines here.

Preparation: Many personalities seem to think looser restrictions mean they don’t have to prepare as much. Not so! It requires more thought, preparation, and planning. Not less.

Skill And Experience: This may be the most significant factor. Some personalities should not be allowed to try this concept because they aren’t experienced, disciplined, skilled, or talented enough to do it.

The Station’s Vision: Perhaps most importantly, the management team sets the station’s vision, and personalities must fit into that vision, or the show will fail. The vision can (and should) evolve, but trying to implement a new concept without working with the PD is a recipe for disaster.


Breaking out of traditional programming rules like One Thought Per Break is a valid goal, but don’t ignore the sound practices behind the rule, as explained in the original article.

Each show and each personality is unique. I coach some shows to introduce more thoughts in a break if they’re qualified. Other shows should be mono-focused because they aren’t ready for it, but we constantly work on expanding their skills and building the license to talk one step at a time in small ways. That’s how you grow.

Personality radio is somewhat abstract, not absolute. It’s a blend of art and science. Strong foundational principles (science) should not be ignored, but the greatest gains occur when talented individuals execute the plan with dramatic flair in a way only they can (art).

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