The Danger of Too Many Open Breaks

The Danger of Too Many Open Breaks

by Tracy Johnson

You know the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for”? It has applications for radio personalities, too. Especially when it comes to open breaks.

Open breaks are segments on a show that have nothing scheduled in advance. The segment is “open” for a personality to create original content.

In contrast, a segment that includes a pre-defined, scheduled element would be a “closed” break. For example, a newscast, entertainment report or a regular feature would all be classified as closed.

Talent always seems to think open breaks give them more time to entertain. Many times, they feel that features aren’t really part of their show. Some even perform as if features are in their way

That, of course, is a mistake. I mean, James Corden doesn’t act as if Carpool Karaoke is preventing him from entertaining, does he?

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Still, there’s a mindset that more open breaks are better. But they’re not.

When a radio show is relatively new, or inexperienced, the programming team usually imposes tighter restrictions on the show. There are limits on length of breaks. The show usually has at least one or two primary features that provide structure and build anticipation.

As the show evolves through the audience engagement cycle, it becomes more established. As a result, listeners are more attracted to the station because of the show. That’s normal in the development process.

So, well-meaning programmers assume that more open breaks is a good idea. After all, the show is working. And open breaks are what the “big boys” do.

So let’s change our show and open it up! Uh oh.

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The Risk of More Open Breaks

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