Programmers often get tense every time a radio show starts to talk because a lot of things can go wrong. When segments are poorly prepared or performed, smart Program Directors know how quickly listeners tune out. The solution is to generate nothing but great content and eliminate weak segments. That, of course, is easier said than done. Even the most prolific personalities and team shows are challenged to create so many pieces of fresh material each day. Open breaks can be dangerous, which is another good reason to recycle your best material.

Open Breaks Can Be Dangerous

You’re probably wondering what constitutes and open or closed break. Open breaks are segments on a show that are not rescheduled. A segment is considered “open” if a personality creates original content. This is healthy for shows to make personal connections with listeners, but too many open breaks can be dangerous.

Recycling works because the vast majority of listeners hear a tiny percentage of a show. Even your best listeners miss about 92.5% of your show, so repeating the best moments more often makes sense.

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

Problems often occur when talent adopts the mindset that more open breaks are better. Open breaks are great, but too many open breaks are dangerous.

Finding a Balance

Open talk breaks are more risky than personality-oriented features because the features provide a context. Audiences become familiar with the feature and know what to expect. Open breaks lack context and are riskier. They’re not less valuable, but there’s a greater potential for tune-out.

Therefore, open breaks mean more original content, and that’s not a bad thing by itself. Finding topics is not hard, and most shows have far more material than they can use. But creating great, “A” level material is difficult.

What percentage of your show would you classify as really, truly great? 20%? 25% maybe? Shows creating just one difference-making break each hour can have massive success but shows that also create three other weak segments can offset what is gained by the one great segment.

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Wouldn’t it be better to increase the truly “A” material and reduce weaker content? Wouldn’t that be stronger?

The Solution

As in most things, the best strategy is a balance between original content (open breaks) and featured content. Inexperienced and relatively new shows should focus on creating more features and repeating it more often, as outlined in the One Hour Radio Show.

However, even experienced, legendary shows would be better served by creating less original content and recycling their best material more often. The right balance for most shows is somewhere between the extremes, but there’s no doubt that recycling great content is always better than performing a weaker original segment.