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Matt Stockman
KCMS Seattle

Asking Why




At Walmart the other day, I overheard a young mom with an inquisitive toddler in the shopping cart…

Child: Mommy, I want Mountain Dew… (while motioning to a CASE of the drink)

Mom: No, not today…

Child: But why?

Mom: It’s too expensive…

Child: Why?

Mom: because I said it was…

Child: Why?

If you have kids, you’ve had a very similar conversation. Sometimes kids ask the “Why?” question incessantly because they are genuinely trying to connect their question (can we buy Mountain Dew?) with an answer that they can understand.

What can we learn from the “Why?” question as air talent who are trying to connect deeply with our listener?  As you’re considering content that will become an on air break, mimic the kids and ask yourself the “Why?” question (or a variant like “Why is this important?” a la the Heath Brothers in “Made To Stick”) a few times. It may uncover an angle or idea that is much easier for more listeners to connect with or relate to.

Watch how this works with a bit that our PM Drive host, Ana Kelly, was working on recently… She’s got a great story about an experience with her mom’s doctor, but needs to connect it as firmly with the life of our listener as she can.

Bit: Ana’s mom is in poor health… getting her to the doctor can be a little tough.


There’s a unique challenge between an adult child and her parent when the parent is given advice/counsel from the person whose diaper they once changed.


As our roles in the family change as we age, we feel a sense of responsibility to assist and advocate for our parents, even when they’re still capable of taking care of themselves and making their own decisions.


Ana: “Because deep down I just want to know my mom is gonna be okay, and I am really worried that she might not be.”

A break that connects Ana and her listener as 2 women who share a love and concern for their mom touches the emotion behind the answer to that 3rd “Why?” question… that’s powerful.   

Click here to listen to it on the radio…


Of all the ways to tell that story, asking the “Why?” question got right down to the concern that all of us with parents we love share and can relate to… and I think our format is the best equipped of all radio formats to “talk with our listener about that deeper stuff.”

Remember, this is simply about getting to that which is most meaningful for your listener, so there may be many correct answers to “Why?”. Working through this exercise as you prep can lead you to deeper, more universal feelings and emotions that are better touchpoints for building a bridge into her world.


Matt Stockman is the Program Director for KCMS/SPIRIT 1053 in Seattle, WA, and a talent coach for several radio stations around the world. Contact Matt at


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