How to Win the Ratings – The Breakfast Show Blueprint – Part 11

Greg Smith is a Director of Radio Today.

In this series of articles I wanted to explore the key ingredients of a top rating breakfast show.

I’ve enlisted the help of prominent programmers & researchers, people much smarter than me, to tell you how to win the ratings in radio’s most important daypart.

You can read part 1 with Jon Coleman, part 2 with Todd Wallace, part 3 with Randy Lane, part 4 with Brad March, part 5 with Rad Messick, part 6 with Dave Charles, part 7 with Mark Ramsey part 8 with Tracy Johnson  part 9 with John Parikhal and part 10 with Steve Reynolds.

Today we learn about what makes great Breakfast radio from Tom Watson (pictured).

Tom Watson has over 25 years programming and consulting in such markets as: Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas, Washington D.C., Denver, Honolulu Hawaii, Seattle, Miami, London, Sydney, Melbourne, and other markets. Tom works in developing on air talent, program directors, growing breakfast programs, as well as in the areas of music, promotions & competitions, and station imaging.                                                                            

Breakfast Show Talent Development & Direction

Make  TALENT A Priority.

Daily show meetings are a MUST

Give the Talent the proper tools and support

Teach Proper Show Preparation

Air Check Daily /    Review Air checks frequently (if not daily)

Emphasize their strengths and work on their weaknesses

Give the talent a chance to respond to criticism & input

Be a good listener and show sincere interest

Encourage, don’t bully… stimulate their creative process

Be honest… tell them the truth and be direct…. But be diplomatic

“Stroke”   when they deserve it.   Be firm, and most of all, consistent with your critique style.




(#1)             Community Reflection


(#2)             Personality / “Station-ality”


(#3)             Contests & Promotions


(#4)             News & Information


(#5)             MUSIC



How People Listen To a Breakfast Show

20 to 30 minutes at a time

They listen at the same time everyday

Horizontal vs.  Vertical promos

Background distractions

“Lifestyle”   Dictates how and when they listen      


What People Don’t “LIKE” About  “TALK”

Length, regardless of content

Too long to get to the punch line

Idle chatter   (give me something!)




Too many voices / people talking at once

Too many thoughts / ideas being addressed at once


Remember,  when  they  say  you  “talk  too much”  what  they  are  really  telling  you  is  that  what   you  have to  say  isn’t:





Makes them go “wow.  I didn’t know that! “ 


Format Clock Considerations for Breakfast Shows

Intro the show. At the beginning of every hour.    Don’t   “assume”   they know who you are or what you do.   In other  words,  don’t be  guilty of  having  “Over-Estimation of Product  Knowledge”  on  the  part  of  the  listener.

Set up and intro themes, bits, and features

Horizontally  promote   “TOMORROW ‘S  BITs & FEATURES”   at the  same  time  each  day  as you  end  each  bit or feature.

Repeating of bits / features within a show each day

Remember…. You are  performing   Six  (6)   30-minute  shows   each  day  not  just  ONE  four  hour  program.


14 Available Breakfast Show Images

Funny, Humorous

Outrageous / “I can’t believe they did that!”

Off The Wall




Surprise Me

Go To the Edge


Having Fun

Talk Too Much

Friends… “They seem to like each other”

Gets me going in the morning

Remember the time they, or,   did you hear what they said this morning”


Tom Watson consults top breakfast shows in the United States as well as in Australia.  He is a full-service consultant with input into music, marketing, imaging, talent development, contest and promotions, sales promotions, and overall station promotions.   You can reach Tom in the USA on:  310-498-5990 or email: [email protected]








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