No one was worse at spewing facts and data on the radio than me, every, single day! I would take studies, percentages and 10 tips for everything directly to the airwaves and it was dry as toast. I had a lot to learn about how to use this type of information properly.
The very talented Lisa Williams refers to her show prep process as being in the kitchen, making a cake and she’s trying to put together just the right ingredients so it’s delicious and satisfying. Brilliant! And using that same analogy, the radio breaks that I was doing were akin to tossing a bag of flour through the radio speakers with some baking soda and vanilla extract, hoping the listener could figure out how to put it all together and apply the data to their life!
Here’s what I’m talking about…
Data break voiced by the old me:
“I just read that 5 out of 10 trips to the emergency room are due to accidents with power tools. The worst offender is the hammer, followed by the saw and then the staple gun. So next time you use any of those, be extra careful, it could save you a trip to the emergency room!”
I did breaks like that for years! Then, while doing some soul-searching, I thought about the breaks I’ve done that I liked the most. Each time, the ones I liked the most had to do with real life and real people. And then it hit me. This one word:
What all those data-driven breaks were missing was a cast of characters! People! Living, breathing, humans engaging in true stories that illustrate the data I just read. The new me asks WHO? Who comes to mind as I read this stat/study/data? What cast of characters can I get to act this out for me? Do I know anyone injured with a hammer or a saw or a staple gun? Wait a minute…yes! Uncle Joe had a mishap with the staple gun! So now the radio break becomes this:
“I’ll never forget the day Uncle Joe stapled the neighbor lady’s dress to her knee! Shocking!! I know! Maybe you’ve done something crazy like that! Apparently, he was reupholstering some chairs in the front yard, when the neighbor came over for a visit. She sat on the steps and said, “that looks kind of dangerous”. Oh no, not dangerous at all, he said, it only works with heavy pressure. That’s when he reached over and tapped her knee with it and BAM…stapled her dress right to her knee! Oh, he was in so much trouble! So, all this is to say, the next time you’re tempted to get a little too confident with a power tool, I hope you’ll remember poor Uncle Joe.”
Here are the questions I now ask:
Who do I know that could act out this content?
Who will be my cast of characters?
Which one will my listener enjoy meeting the most?
That’s the wisdom of ‘who’.
Lisa is the afternoon radio host on the XFM Radio Network, middays at KTIS Minneapolis/St. Paul and middays at Spirit 1059 in Austin, TX. She left the upper Midwest in 2018 in search of a free-lance life free from snowstorms and now lives in Naples, Florida. She is married to Ken and they have 3 adult daughters. She can be contacted at [email protected]