(By Randy Lane) What do the following successful shows all have in common: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, 60 Minutes, Seinfeld, The View, Howard Stern, The Bert Show?
Conflict and contrast between characters.
Nothing can cap the growth of a radio show or podcast more than a lack of conflict and contrast. In order for your listeners to remain engaged, they need to feel compelled to take a stand, join a side, or hope for a resolution.
Common scenarios that prevent healthy conflict:
• A host who won’t share the mic to allow disagreements or differing opinions from cohosts, guests, or callers.
• Upbeat, friendly shows where everything is positive and enthusiastic.
• Hosts or cast members who are worried about what family, target audience, or management might think.
Here are several ways to promote conflict with your characters and content:
• Friendly conflict between hosts: The best hosts today allow the cohosts, guests, and callers to challenge them in a respectful way. Focus group panelists tell us they love to hear two hosts get into what they call “passionate debates.”
• Prank phone calls can still work if they are executed properly. The most effective ones include a resolution at the end by telling the person that they’ve been pranked. The reactions can be priceless.
• Relationship content including features like “Second Date Update” or “Blown Off” link. Any relationship dilemmas involving couples, parenting, family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors has conflict.”Facebook Fights” is another popular feature loaded with conflict and humor.
• Stories: The most memorable personal and external stories have something at stake. Concentrate on entertainment stories, weird news, or positive stories with action and drama. Stay away from announcement-type stories that lack conflict.
Common questions we get about executing friendly conflict:
Q. What if we all agree or disagree on an issue or topic?
A. Explore areas to agree or disagree, but for different reasons. Add this to your daily prep list.
Q. Are there situations where conflict doesn’t work?
A. Yes. If you disagree on everything, especially in “he said/she said” platforms, the show can become too predictable.
Q. What if I don’t have enough information to chime in on the topic?
A. Talking about and planning topics ahead of time gives cast members a chance to research. Topics that come up on the fly provide an excellent opportunity to solicit information from experts or callers.
NOTE: Your point of view will come alive with stories, examples, and analogies.
Randy Lane launched his media talent coaching and personal brand development company in 1996. He can be contacted by phone at 805-497-7177 or email at [email protected].