Radio personalities are taught to keep it simple and that’s sound advice.  Listeners don’t listen much and pay even less attention. A basic premise is to explain every break as if talking to a third-grader. But simplifying content is not as simple as grabbing the low-hanging fruit and tossing a phone topic on the air.

Low hanging fruit is the result of personalities performing the obvious angle. It happens with topics designed to attract phone calls. For example:

Hey, Kim Kardashian is allergic to peanuts. That would be annoying because I love peanut butter, and eat it every day. So here’s the question of the day: What food do you love and couldn’t imagine being allergic to it? Here’s our number.

That’s an obvious, easy, and lazy topic. It’s low-hanging fruit.

Sometimes it happens when shows feel pressed for time. There’s a rush to get it on immediately “while it’s hot”. Here’s a two-minute explanation of why that’s not always a great idea.

Don’t Jump The Route

Radio producer Isaiah Twitty once played cornerback on his college football team. His defensive back coach taught him to be patient, and not go after the first thing he sees when covering a receiver.

He called it “Jumping the Route”. By waiting for the right moment, he’d have a chance to make a bigger play, perhaps an interception.

The passage of time affects feelings about the piece. Be patient and make a big play.

Just because something happens today doesn’t mean it has to be on the air tomorrow. Most of the time, it’ll be just as relevant tomorrow. Waiting a day actually allows time for the audience to hear the story. It may actually be more timely since more listeners will be aware of it.

On the morning a news alert announced that Janet Jackson had a baby at age 51, my client put it on their entertainment report, which was appropriate. But they tried to develop a storyline about the topic without thinking about the possibilities. The break was fine, but it didn’t go anywhere. And their comments were shallow. It was low-hanging fruit.

I asked what they could have done differently. They had several great ideas and said they wish they thought of that at the time. 

Here’s the thing: The next day, Janet was still a new mom at age 51. And in a few days, she will still be a 51-year old mom at home with the baby for the first time. The topic is still relevant. They just needed to frame it differently.

To their credit, they got back into the topic the next day, and it was a terrific segment about how Janet would be nearly 70 when her child graduates from high school. This led to a discussion about the best age to have kids. That’s a lot sticker than the low-hanging fruit of “Hey, how about that? Janet had a baby.”

Get Past Low-Hanging Fruit

Picking the low-hanging fruit happens all the time.

If the topic is “table”, you think “chair”. If it’s “salt”, you think “pepper”. But that is just a topic, not a story. And it’s obvious.

Here’s a different approach that can get you to a better place:

  1. Put the content through a TESOP filter. TESOP is Topic, Execution, Story, Observation, and Perspective. Work through each step and new possibilities will emerge.
  2. Look for emotional connections. Put yourself in the situation. How would you feel? What would you do? Then dig into why. Chances are, a more relatable observation will emerge and that will make a much better segment.
  3.  Ask yourself three questions: What else could happen? What should happen? In other words, what would you want to happen? What would be cool if it did happen? Chances are, you’ll find an interesting storyline.
  4. When you have an angle, start with a premise, then build backward from the Payoff.  This is a common technique used by stand-up comics.


Turning generic content into entertainment isn’t difficult but it does take time. Use these tips to find unique, exciting ways to connect with listeners and avoid the low-hanging fruit.


TESOP Show Prep Process

The Science of Show Prep

How To Brainstorm Deeper Topics


It’s All About The Hook ebook

Show Prep Techniques

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