It’s Always About The Story

The 4 parts of every great story:


You may think you’re not telling stories on your station, and for some stations and the PDs who help shape non-musical content, that may be true.

But almost every radio station still has one daypart that permits more than 6-second liner content. If you’re creating content on that daypart, here are the four essential ingredients to every good story:

  • Conflict
  • Characters listeners will care about
  • Unexpected twists and turns that surprise and lead to delight
  • A satisfying ending

The best team shows always feature some degree of conflict between the main characters. It doesn’t have to be hostile or mean spirited, but it’s in the disagreements that you’ll find listener engagement.

Of course, listeners need to know enough about each character to care about them. I would bet that just about every homeless person you see today has a compelling story, but we don’t know them and, sadly, we don’t want to know them, so we don’t care enough to ask about their story. We don’t want to be that involved with them.

Your on-air talent needs to share enough about who they are that listeners care about their lives.

Surprise is the secret to delight. It’s the unexpected twist that makes every story memorable.

And we all want an ending that leaves us feeling some strong emotion. We want a payoff for our attention, the feeling that listening was worth the investment of our time. This does not mean every ending has to be positive.

Check out these examples you can share with your air staff. They’re ads, and they work because they tell stories that check every box above. I’ve shared this first one before. I saw it in Europe years ago:

How about this one that makes a story everyone’s familiar with surprising and fresh and modern:

And a different take on the end of the world:

Look, whether you admit it or not, your station is telling a story about what it is, who you are, why listeners should take the trouble to find you and remain loyal to you.

You’ll have more success if you think about how every piece of content — including the songs you play — fits into the narrative.

Is your story consistent?

Is your story compelling?

Is your story easily shared.

These four ingredients will help you find the answer you want to those questions.

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