How To Use Features as a Content Container [audio]

How To Use Features as a Content Container [audio]

by Tracy Johnson

Features are one of the fastest and most effective ways to attract repeat listening. Great features provide a structure that gives personalities an advantage of familiarity and expectation. And, they allow individual personality traits to come through as character-defining banter.

But features are only valuable if they’re used as content containers to showcase the show’s character inside the feature. Many times, air talent sounds as if they are working for the feature, rather than commanding the feature to make it work for them.

You hear this often when the same feature has been on the air for an extended period of time. It becomes easy to execute, and the personalities have grown bored with it personally. The result is a flat, almost mechanical presentation.

The Content Container

It’s interesting how personalities often become so dependent on features, benchmarks and games. Some shows segue from Hollywood News to a Trivia Game to the station’s big contest. They sound like they’re on the air just to execute the feature rather than entertain an audience.

Features are very useful tools in helping the audience get to know you. New personalities often build their entire show around a series of features to provide structure. This helps with consistency while they develop a relationship with the audience.

Some programmers use features to “prop up” weak or inexperienced personalities. They think of it the way parents of toddlers “childproof” their home to protect the kids!

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These shows are missing the point. Letterman’s Top 10 List allowed Dave to be topical and deliver a few one-liners that may not fit into his monologue. He couldn’t make a full segment from anything on the list, but in the proper container, it expanded his material

Many personalities become proficient at executing a concept, and put it on auto-pilot. There is a certain consistency to great features.

Second Date Update is a strong feature that has the same structure in each episode, but with different participants and story lines. It’s similar to a great sitcom like Big Bang Theory. Each episode is pretty much the same, yet uniquely funny on it’s own.

Use Features Creatively

The ability to use features to entertain separates good talent from great ones.

Entertainers Penn & Teller do this in their approach to magic. Penn says:

Other magicians are always looking for a trick, then find a way to present it. We look for an idea and a presentation, and then find a good trick that goes with it. the magic is almost secondary in many ways.

A great feature is packaging, and that is critically important. Apple spends millions in designing elegant containers for their gadgets, and it shapes their brand and influences customer satisfaction.

Apple packaging content container

Still, nobody wants a container. They want what’s in the container. Your content. The container provides a valuable function to build anticipation and familiarity.

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Features Done Right: An Example

Here’s an excellent example of a show that does just that.

On Rhythmic CHR OC104/Ocean City, the morning team team of Wookie, Crookidd & Lisa execute Tough Love Starring Siri, on of our 10 Best Personality Feature recommendations.

But what makes it stand out is the way they use the feature to showcase their talent. Listen thaw they embrace the content, presenting it as new and special rather than just introducing the elements.

The best features are worthy of being on each day. Some are on multiple times each day. Some clients are airing Tough Love With Siri every hour. IT’s that good, but only if it’s curated properly and presented with enthusiasm and excitement.

Every element on the air should be used as a tool to help entertain. Don’t allow your personal interest (or lack of interest) in a daily feature affect how your audience enjoys it.


This is a great example of using a great feature to best advantage. When they’re integrated into the personality of the show and fabric of the station, features work for you.


Author: Tracy Johnson

Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.

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