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We have all gotten caught up in someone’s quest for transformation. In fact, most television competition shows rely on the concept of personal transformation – the X Factor’s Chris Rene (overcoming addiction!), Dancing with the Stars’ Chaz Bono (overcoming a sex change!), and just about any pairing on The Amazing Race (people in relationships coming to a new understanding about each other! All while digging through ox manure on a farm in Sri Lanka!). Audiences like stories. We like to be inspired. 

In radio, you know already that serial content that pays off over several days, or weeks, is an excellent technique for increasing listening. It’s easier to get people to come back more times a week than to listen longer in one day (they have obligations to get to – school, work, pilates class).

Why not create your own transformational storyline?

But how do you do it?

January is as good time as any to launch a storyline that will engage your audience. Listeners can follow along both on the air and via social media/blogging, etc. They may even join in themselves.
Consider some examples from the past few years:

  • Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, the nonfiction bestseller (and movie) about a woman who cooked a Julia Child recipe every day for a year.


  • A.J. Jacobs wrote two bestselling “quest” memoirs — The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, and The Know-It-All, the latter of which tells how he spent one year reading the Encyclopedia Brittanica to try to become the smartest person in the world.


  • 365 Nights: A Memoir of Intimacy chronicles one married couple’s quest to have sex every day for one year.

Just the other day I read about a single deejay in Winnipeg who decided to go without sex for an entire year. Over the course of his challenge, his webpage got over 500,000 hits!

These stories intrigue us because they are in opposition to the person’s present state and the measures are extreme. This isn’t a die-hard runner training for a marathon. This is a person who can’t cook commiting to Julia Child’s classic French cuisine, every day for a year. The married couple has sex every day for a year to rekindle their intimacy. The player learns about himself by abstaining for an entire year.  And all their roads are bumpy. We live vicariously through their successes and their challenges. And we get inspired.

For radio, a month-long challenge would still be dramatic and be easier to maintain momentum. What serial content can you come up with that would be a true quest for transformation? Here are some ideas:

For a single character: 30 Dates in 30 Days.

For the tech or media addict: Giving up the smart phone, iPad, laptop, TV   

For the guy looking to understand women better: The Chick Flick Challenge, watching a chick flick every day for a month.   

For a new player to the show and market: A local adventure each weekend.

For a parent: Follow Supernanny’s advice to the letter for one month.

For a jaded couch potato: Do yoga every day.

And for the rest of us shmos who don’t have morning shows, what about embarking on a journey or quest this year and challenging yourself in a new way?

Let me know if you try one of these ideas or come up with one of your own. I’d love to hear how it goes. Because I too love stories. 


-written by Angela Perelli


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