The Secret of War of the Roses

 In Blog

Storytelling, drama, and conflict related to an important incident creates killer content. A great example is War Of The Roses.

War Of The Roses is a common multiple-segment benchmark on numerous shows around the country.

It involves a caller who suspects that their significant other is unfaithful. After hearing the caller’s story in the first segment, the hosts call the suspected cheater in the next segment, posing as a flower shop, with the caller listening silently on the other line.

“You have won a dozen roses. Who would you like to send them to? Inevitably, the cheater names someone besides the significant other, and the segment ends with a dramatic on-air confrontation.

This feature delivers Godzilla-size PPM ratings. If you knew the secret of how it worked, you could create your own, original killer benchmark.

Here is the secret in three easy steps:

  1. The Question.
  2. The Answer.
  3. The Confrontation. 

    Dating back to dramas from Shakespeare or the Bible, this is an old principle, but still one of the most powerful.In War of the Roses, here is how that formula works:

  1. The Question: “Is my partner cheating on me.”
  2. The Answer: “Yes/No” (Usually the answer is “yes.”)
  3. The Confrontation: Angry words, a breakup ensues.

In the film The Wizard Of Oz, the formula goes like this:

  1. The Question: How will Dorothy get home again?
  2. The Answer: With the help of the powerful Wizard.
  3. The Confrontation: The Wizard is a fraud. Dorothy gets home with her ruby slippers, which she had all along.

This formula works in interviews too. NPR Morning Edition’s Rachel Martin’s talk with GOP Virginia coal region Representative Morgan Griffith goes this way:

  1.  The Question: Why withdraw from the Paris Climate Pact when most voters wanted to remain?
  2. The Answer: Voters do not understand that coal can be made cleaner for energy production.
  3. The Confrontation: Rachel points out that natural gas is more plentiful, cleaner, and cheaper than coal. Trump cut clean coal technology from the federal budget.

Once listeners hear the dramatic question, they are compelled to hear the answer. Then, they are hooked to hearing the confrontation. Once the question is established, tease the audience that the answer and confrontation are on the way to keep them engaged.

Look for opportunities to apply this three-step story structure to your content. The result will be increased suspense AND time-spent-listening.

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