Your Show Needs a Sequel

 In Blog

The secret to success is getting listeners to come back to your show. Serial content gives listeners a specific reason to continue listening in the moment or to revisit your show tomorrow. The most successful shows attract listeners between three and four days per week on average.

Jeff McHugh makes the case for serial content, and highlights ways to create it.


As we witness the traditional Hollywood film industry facing challenges from innovations like Netflix, broadcast radio can learn how to face similar challenges.

We already know that listeners are craving more on-demand content in the form of podcasts, just like movie viewers love on-demand films.

An older movie business strategy for keeping audiences engaged is the sequel. Multiple-film franchises like James Bond, Star Wars, Harry Potter and Batman generate piles of money for studios.

When listeners love a character and storyline, they do not want it to end. People form an emotional bond to characters like Captain Kirk and X-Men’s Wolverine. Consider how that truth applies to your show.

Most radio segments are one-offs. A one-off is usually all that the audience wants. Most films are one-offs. But studios today are configured to make more sequels. Sequels bring predictable success.

Top radio shows build longer TSL by keeping a sharp lookout for content that works in ongoing storylines that unfold in serial chapters.

Here are the indicators that you may have all the key ingredients for multiple-segment, sequel content.

  • A relatable character: can be you, your co-host, a listener, someone in your town or a recurring show guest. It is usually one person, not a group.
  • A villain: does not have to be a bad person, just a foil for your main character. The villain can be a person or a non-human, like a disease, a hurricane or a government.
  • A conflict: a disagreement, a broken promise, something valuable taken from someone. It can also be an inner conflict.
  • A resolution: the crucial part of serial content. You must let people know that you will reveal how the conflict ends, and tell them when they can hear it.

Great vertical sequel storyline examples (carrying listeners from segment to segment) include War of the Roses on shows like Dave Ryan at KDWB, and Second Date Update on Brooke and Jubal.

Great horizontal sequel storylines (carrying listeners from day to day) include CHEZ-FM’s Randall Moore in Ottawa, a 50-something rock host trying yoga to get in shape, and the pregnancy and birth (broadcast live on Periscope) of Virginia’s baby Rocco on WRMF’s KVJ Show.

And as audiences enjoy revisiting familiar storylines, like the 1991 film Beauty and the Beast retold in a successful 2017 Emma Watson remake, your audience loves previously aired good stories. Recycle your great segments.

The key to building your successful sequel franchise is planning. Next week, we will share step-by-step instructions for planning and executing your own multiple-segment content.

(Notice how we created a sequel of our newsletter there?)

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