A Much-Needed Primer on Teasing
by Tracy Johnson
Teasing is tricky. It really is. It seems like it shouldn’t be difficult. But this is an area that causes personalities to stumble.
Think about how important it is to develop this skill.
It’s common sense that the easiest and fastest way to increase time spent listening is to entice the existing audience to listen longer or come back if and when they tune out. It’s an inexpensive (as in free) way to capitalize on captured attention.
By inviting an audience to get more of something they already love (or at least don’t dislike), it’s possible to increase ratings dramatically. In fact, just a slight increase in audience engagement can cause a radio show’s ratings to double! It works! And here’s a case study that proves it.
So teases should be one of the most important things in performance. Yet teasing continues to take a back seat for many radio shows. I’ve discovered some common barriers, but most are relatively easy to overcome.
So here’s a primer on teasing to get you started on a path to a more productive show.
Remember To Tease
The single biggest reason shows don’t tease is they simply forget about it. Most emphasize executing the break, and that’s understandable. Personalities invest attention on finding an exit point or a great out. That’s appropriate, of course. But in doing so, they miss an opportunity to promote forward.
It’s common to see shows scramble as a song fades, preparing to get into a talk segment. They may be ready to perform the content, but haven’t laid out the structure of the break. Then, as the break ends, it’s almost as if they’re surprised. And a a golden opportunity is missed.
Fortunately, this is fairly easy fix. Build a flow chart for every break into the daily show planner, and include specific fields to program the tease. Use Trello for a highly effective solution. It’s a free app that’s easy to adapt for show prep.
And while you’re at it, don’t just build teases into the break structure. Add a hook into each segment, too!
Scheduling teases fixes one problem. But if the tease isn’t effective, it doesn’t matter if it’s on the air or not. That’s why teasing should be a standard part of the show prep process for every single break.
Great teases don’t happen by accident. It’s a result of careful panning, and should be part of the creative process.
I’ll never forget the time my son was working as news writer for a television station. He became the lead writer for one of the station’s main anchors. The news director told him, “I want you to write every word that comes out of (the news anchor’s mouth), except the teases. You leave those alone. That comes from the creative people in our marketing department.”
The news scripts were due two hours before each newscast, where a team of promotion pros went to work on keeping viewers tuned in across commercials.
The same type of process happens online, as described in how Upworthy identifies their most effective headlines (teases).
Isn’t your on-air content just as important?
Know When To Tease
Teasing is both art and science. The science behind teasing is rooted in common sense, and I explain it in detail here.
But it’s just as important to tease the right content at the right time. Once again, it’s logical.
Most shows promote upcoming spoken word content between songs. It’s common to hear a short promo for an upcoming feature or phone topic as one song ends and the next begins.
Does that make sense, though? Think this through.
100% of the audience tuned in at that moment is liking what they are hearing. Music. So that’s exactly the wrong time to promote that you’re soon going to change their listening environment. It’s the perfect time to promote music, or music related content.
The opposite is also true. Many shows finish a terrific talk segment. They may have just held the audience’s attention through several minutes. At that moment, listeners tuned in are captivated, or at least not annoyed. After all, they’re still tuned in. So why would we promote music there?
The best time to tease content is adjacent to similar content.
Elvis Duran is a master of this technique, and has developed it in layers. In fact, he even promotes similar topics for the next day’s show using this technique. I once heard him going into a phone topic with this tease:
I’m taking your calls about parenting fails with pre-schoolers, and Sarah has a great story about how her 3 year old talked her out of punishment next. But first…What happens when your 5 year old comes home from Kindergarten and says, “I need a boyfriend…and I need one now.”. Kristen needs your advice tomorrow morning at this time. Now, Sarah, how did your 3 year old manipulate you?
What a powerful, and effective tease. Elvis understands that the most promotable material is when it’s connected to something the existing tuned-in audience finds entertaining.
Taken to an extreme would lead to one-dimensional content, of course. That’s a good time to apply a stacked tease tactic.
There are many types of teases that can work for radio shows, and no personality will excel at all of them. Find your happy space!
Experiment with various teasing techniques to find the type of tease that works best. Then be great at it. Don’t worry if some teasing types just don’t feel right or are too difficult to master. Find your comfort zone.
Ideally, each talent will identify 2-3 types of teases to apply. Then be creative. All of us fall into routines or patterns that are comfortable. Fight that tendency by constantly challenging your creativity to keep it fresh.
Teasing can have a profound impact on your success. Yet it’s one of the most overlooked aspects of the daily creative process.
To learn more about teasing and promotion, check out my webinar on demand The Art Of The Tease. And, there’s a lot more information on how to keep that audience on your show longer here.