Being a producer on a breakfast show

Good planning, storytelling and use of local content can contribute to making a successful programme. We go behind the scenes on Steve and Karen’s Sony Award winning breakfast show with producer Mark Cliffe.

I am producer of Steve and Karen’s Breakfast Show, silver winner of the Breakfast Show of the Year (under 10 million) at the Sony Radio Academy Awards 2013. As breakfast show producer I take responsibility for the presenters having everything they need at their disposal for when they open their microphones.

What my typical day involves
The first thing is to find out what’s happening in the world that our audience will be interested in, deciding where we can fit this content within the show and how the presenters own experiences can relate and be worked in to this content.

We like to brainstorm competition ideas together, rehearsing them and predicting every possible outcome beforehand. Then writing cues, production and putting these in an easy to find location with clear instructions.

Arranging and editing interviews is important, having an ear for the good content and editing the audio to fit the format of the show.

We communicate which callers are ready to go on air, their location and a one-line summary of what they’re going to say.  We also constantly discuss throughout a live show about what we have time for and what we don’t, and what we will be doing next.

“The audience should be hooked in with an opening line that gives them a sense of expectation of where the story might go. But surprises along the way maintain the interest level too.” – Mark Cliffe

The audience should be hooked in with an opening line that gives them a sense of expectation of where the story might go. But surprises along the way maintain the interest level too. There’s no room for side tracking and a good story will always have a good sense of direction, with a strong beginning, middle and end.

A moment in this production I’m particularly proud of
This was a competition called a Cheryl Sat Nav. We had Cheryl Cole tickets to give away and needed a mechanic (a creative way to make it work), so I came up with the idea of taking clips from Cheryl songs that pointed to a location in the North-East. Once a listener had guessed this location, we had a clip of Cheryl confirming the correct answer. I’m particularly proud of how local our content has been, and the different ways we have worked this into the show.

Something I learned that I'll take on from this production to the next
One thing I have learned is how to bring phone topics to life using song clips as punctuation and colour. For example in Steve and Karen’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Lives we invited listeners to tell us in a tongue-in-cheek way how they had a life that was more ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ than our presenters. We used very rocky guitar riff solos in between calls for this.

The programme I'd kill to work on
Richard Bacon’s show on 5 Live - his content and ideas are refreshing and I love the way that his sense of humour is evident throughout the interviews and features on the show.