Rule Breakers Rule


(By Randy Lane) Whether it’s breaking rules imposed by management or self-imposed rules, rule-breaking is an integral part of the creative process. Pablo Picasso once said, “Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.”

Let’s look at several common situations where it’s wise to break the rules:

  • Mariah Carey was huge in the ‘90s. A major market morning show I was coaching had a captivating conversation going with Mariah. Suddenly the program director started frantically motioning to the show hosts through the glass to cut the interview. The PD had set a three-minute limit on content segments and the show exceeded it.

Result: The PD’s three-minute rule caused the show to miss an opportunity to extend an engaging segment and time-spent-listening.

  • The Randy Lane Company believes in planning every segment of your show and documenting it on a “show sheet.” But don’t be hamstrung by it. We observe shows stopping phone topics that are eliciting remarkable real-life stories worthy of more airtime and go to a scheduled feature or a song that can be heard on multiple stations.

Result: By following your show’s own show plan or dictated format clock, you miss opportunities to deepen a connection with listeners and expand time-spent-listening.

  • When the infamous slap happened at the Oscars, several morning shows only discussed the story once in their four-hour show because they only schedule one entertainment feature per show.

Result: Since one segment of your show is heard by less than 10% of the total audience, 90% of listeners didn’t hear your show talk about the biggest story on the planet. Huge stories that everyone is talking about must at least be acknowledged every half-hour to cover the cume effectively.

  • When there’s a life-threatening weather emergency in your market like a tornado, flood, fire, etc., flush the format and be a service for your community.
  • Even if it’s out of your format, when a universally known celebrity death like Prince occurs, play clips or songs to mark his passing.

Look at rules, format clocks, and show plans as guidelines. Be smart and know when to follow them and when to break from them to get the best content on your show.


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