by Tracy Johnson
There’s a lot of debate about the role of news on music oriented stations. Actually, there’s conflicting opinions on whether news in the traditional sense should be on any station at all. But one thing is for sure: If you’re doing news on a music station, it’s much different than news on a talk station.
Whether you have news at all is a station and market-specific question. I won’t debate that here, but will tell you that if you’re going to do it, be all-in.
There’s nothing worse than a half-hearted information block that disrupts the tone of the station and flow of the show. You might as well put more commercials on!
The same goes for other information elements. If you’re not going to put some effort into traffic, weather, sports or entertainment reports, why bother? You can’t afford to be anything less than excellent.
So let’s assume you are running a news segment. How should it sound? Whether it’s a full four-minute newscast at the top and bottom of the hour, or short headline updates, here are 4 tips for making it sizzle.
First, understand that your audience probably doesn’t reject the information. They just need to have it delivered the way they expect it from your brand.
Ideally, your show has one cast member that specializes in the feature. They don’t have to be a news person, per se, but delivering the stories should be their role.
In the last decade or so, it’s become common to outsource this role to a television station or sister radio station. That’s fine, as long as the personality delivering news fits the brand image. Insist that there’s a personality fit.
If your show is well established, don’t be afraid to show character and reveal your perspective. Listeners interested in news probably are already informed. They’re coming to you for interpretation and discussion. So turn your attention on being a personality delivering news, not a news personality.
If it’s on the air, it should be promoted. If you’re not willing to promote it, take it off. Or fix it. Then promote it. That’s general advice for everything on your station, by the way.
Also, build in a tease early in the newscast. Instead of launching with the first story, tease the last story you’re delivering to keep the audience through the segment. It sounds great, and it works.
It doesn’t work just to rip and read! Most news from a service is written for print, not to be read out loud. Rewrite every story and put it in your own voice.
As you rewrite those stories, be succinct. Focus on shorter stories with short sentences. Avoid using too many details, but give enough information so it’s actually heard. Sometimes, stations just write a one-line headline that doesn’t say anything.
This will help also help you get more stories into a segment, and make it sound faster and more exciting.
When you write, focus on telling the story without focusing on the facts. You don’t have to get in all the information. Here’s a good writing style guide to help you with that.
It can also sound great to discuss a story or two in the newscast. And if there’s friction or disagreement in the conversation, the audience has a tendency to lean in even more.
Be careful to not talk about every story, though. That can get confusing and long. Some shows that are deep into their relationship with the audience get a little latitude in this area, but most of those shows have reduced the song count.
Pick one story per newscast and make it a focal point. Which story should you talk about? Pick the stories you have the most passion for. And, to keep each newscast fresh, change the discussion story every newscast.
The decision of whether or not to do news is important, of course. But it’s more important to know how your going to do it. That’s especially important on a music station. Follow these guidelines to make sure it fits your brand values and represents the reasons your audience comes to you.
Photo Credit: Freepik.com
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