(By Randy Lane) Remarkable characters are central to the success of every great radio show, podcast, and television show. Content-based shows typically achieve success quicker, yet they tend to decline in the long run due to the lack of human connection with listeners.
Character-based shows get off the ground more slowly, although they create long-term listener loyalty and rating success. The Kidd Kraddick Show is a shining example of this point. Even with Kidd’s passing, the show continues to thrive on the strength of high-definition characters.
There are three types of character-based shows, and each type has its own potential and pitfalls.
Which type are you?
New characters balance their original content by putting a fresh twist on tried-and-true features like “Trending,” trivia contests, etc. High tune-in relationship benchmarks such as “Second Date Update” can quickly establish the content the show is known for.
Type One show characters establish a trust relationship with the audience to create a personality brand. The first stage of development is for the character to express their perspective on current news stories (hard, good news, entertainment, and weird stories).
Being new to the audience, they must gradually share their life experiences. Heart-felt personal stories enhance likability, and stories that reveal quirks and flaws show humanity. The time needed to turn unfamiliar characters into familiar ones can be a year or more.
Caution: Since listeners are getting to know new characters, they must be careful not to expose too much of their personal lives too soon.
Characters are now well-known, as are their benchmark features. Type Two shows continue growing by introducing more original content which puts the show’s characters into unpredictable situations.
Caution: Character and content predictability eventually diminishes TSL and stunts cume growth. Predictability is worsened by airing features at the same time daily and weekly. A good guideline is to schedule only A+ features at fixed times and repeat them at other fixed times. Then float all other features at varying times to increase the element of surprise.
Type Three shows remain consistently successful by highlighting familiar characters executing unpredictable content. Characters continue to be interesting over time by evolving and sharing those experiences. Life circumstances change, and that’s why RLC advises shows to conduct our Character Definition exercise at least yearly.
Caution: Avoid a rating slide by continuing to generate innovative content beyond the characters.
Look for opportunities to put your familiar characters in surprising situations, dilemmas, or quests. Type Three is where you’ll find long-term successful radio shows likeThe Bert Show and TV shows like NCIS.
It’s a three-step process:
- Cast interesting and colorful characters.
- Develop the character’s familiarity through their endearing characteristics, quirks, and flaws.
- Maintain the character’s familiarity while sharing their surprising and unpredictable evolution.