The Disruptors


(By Randy Lane) Routines are useful, but the downside is they can create rote behavior. In real life, breaking news, a loud noise, or the ping of an incoming text disrupts our patterns and forces us to pay attention. Suddenly we are alert, focused, and energized.

Intentional pattern disruptions in radio and podcasts work the same way. They are purposeful techniques to keep the listener alert and focused.

When I’m listening to a radio show or podcast that does not utilize intentional pattern disruptors, I unconsciously start checking scores on ESPN. I get bored with the long monologues or uninterrupted dialogues. Non-P1 listeners will switch stations and many podcast listeners will hit fast forward.

Disruptors in broadcasts are preplanned, noticeable changes in patterns. They greatly increase the odds of maintaining the audience’s attention and will boost time-spent-listening.

10 Pattern Disruption Strategies

  1. Air a caller or introduce a guest.
  2. Pause for dramatic effect before and/or after a prominent point.
  3. Use vocal variation to punctuate narratives and viewpoints.
  4. Start stories with a headline tease. Illustrate them with a character voice or impersonation.
  5. Deliver a lightning rod or dramatic statement.
  6. Include audio when referencing a movie, TV show, or celebrity.
  7. Use a generous amount of audio in newscasts and features to help tell stories.
  8. Change music beds when switching topics.
  9. Issue a challenge.
  10. Hit a punchline.

Video Disruptors

  • Change camera angles and scenes every few seconds.
  • Disrupt the pattern with B-rolls, voiceovers, music beds, and interactions with other people.

For more on pattern disruptors, take a look at Cary Paul’s article “The Power of Pattern Disruptions as a Vehicle for Change.”

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].


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