What creates a great tease or bump? That’s a difficult question to answer. I think I know what makes for bad tease more then what makes for a good one.
Here are some rules I live by:
1) Don’t state the obvious like, “Stick around, you are not going to believe what happened in the 3rd quarter of the Super Bowl.”
2) Don’t blow the tease off with lame lazy statements like “We’ll be back with more after this.” Or “Highlights from other games from around the league are coming up.” Really, highlights are coming up? Don’t treat your viewers like morons. Explain to them why they should stick around.
3) Tease great video and sound, don’t tease stories of less interest. I.E: Do not say “The Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators (both middle of the road NHL teams at the time of writing) had a classic shootout, stick around.” What is more effective is something like this: “It was the longest shootout of the year in the NHL with a save you have to see to believe.” No offense to the Blue Jackets and Predators, they don’t sell. The idea that you’ll be seeing something that is amazing does.
In the months before I left ESPN, Sportscenter toyed with leading shows with best available video. The reality is that with the proliferation of mobile devices, many of the standard highlights and interviews have either been viewed or are easily available to be viewed. Great moments are often tweeted and re-tweeted within seconds. The element of surprise has been taken away with the proliferation of outlets in the broadcast and web mediums. Where a show can still stand out is by finding video gems or less heralded stories and in some cases, the video or the story is so good it is worth using higher in a broadcast rundown then previously thought due to it’s very nature of being something you haven’t seen but will want to.
In Radio, time spent listening is the lifeblood of a show. In some cases, getting the average listener to stay with you for 5 minutes is considered good. Thus at ESPN radio, hosts are instructed during a typical segment to reset, meaning state what the listener is listening to (This is the Bram Weinstein show on ESPN Radio, we’re talking to..). They want you to do this multiple times (typically 3) during a segment. Most segments are 10 minutes at the high end meaning the expectation is you will tell the listener who you are and what show they are listening to every 3 minutes! The timing of this strategy is critical. If you pick the wrong time to reset, i.e. after as obvious transition to another story, the end of that story better have been memorable. If you reset for the sake of interrupting a rambling thought, you will come off as unprepared or scatterbrained. That will impact your listenability to a degree that may be impossible to recover from.
But on the opposite end of that spectrum is performing that simple tease (You are listening to me because I’m worth listening to) and you become a host that gets the average listener to stay for 15 minutes- which can amount to two full segments or longer, you have become invaluable. One of the most notable examples of incredible tease artists is Mike Greenberg from Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN Radio. I encourage you to listen to how he sells what is coming next, either the next big name to be interviewed or he will take an element of the upcoming story and find a way to vaguely describe it in a way to make it intriguing enough to stay through a commercial break. Greenberg also uses the reset tease to perfection. The outliers are the ones who get to a point that their audience doesn’t need to be teased. These performers are rare. Their show has reached a point with their listenership that they don’t even need to tell you what’s coming next because you believe it will be worthwhile anyway. Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh and Don Imus reached this status. But even in the case of Stern, while he never resets the show and rarely talks about what is coming after he takes a break, he does a tremendous amount of promotion for his channels. For the sake of this discussion, we are focusing only on the tease used in broadcast, not promotion from the network itself.
Podcasters rarely tease. Many podcasters are also novices in broadcasting. This medium is a welcome addition to the concept of free flowing ideas, which is what the news based shows intend to be. That said, the idea of just becoming an effective host without any proper training is like me saying I could be a player agent because I talk about their profession a lot. I’m not a lawyer nor a negotiator. Just because someone listens to a lot of radio does not mean they automatically know how to produce and perform good radio. That said, the growth of this medium has opened the door of opportunity in this field tenfold. For professional broadcasters, this is a seismic shift in the availability of good broadcasting opportunity. In a field known for it’s lack of options, the widespread growth in the industry has allowed for more opportunity to present itself and in turn helps the successful broadcasters leverage themselves differently and more effectively.
I personally find the podcasters (or any broadcaster for that matter) that use these effective elements to be better served then the ones that don’t. The overall production value on these broadcasts have remained (at the time of writing) typically substandard to a local or network broadcast. Elements like teases are often completely overlooked. That is the biggest mistake of the numerous ones amateur podcasters typically fail to realize. Production value does not merely consist of interesting content told by an interesting storyteller.
1) Don’t talk down to your viewers. Know what they likely know and tell them to stay because they’ll see that story in a different way.
2) Be vague. Don’t give the story away. It’s called a tease for a reason.
3) Don’t get lazy and use throw away lines like, “More highlights from a busy night in the NBA next.” Pick the best thing you have coming up and tease something about it. “One star passed 20,000 points in his career, but needed more to avoid a devastating loss. That and the rest of the highlights from the league are next.” The sentence is littered with possibility with the promise of seeing many highlights.
4) If your name is used as part of a tease or reset, make sure it happens at the right natural juncture. The conversation at this point needs to feel like it logically should have ended and the story just told was something you want the viewer to remember.