(By Jeff McHugh) Across the US, Mexico, and Canada, radio shows use a wide variety of news. Some air in-depth five-minute newscasts twice an hour, while others do quick 45-second updates. We have observed seven things that all great newscasts have in common, regardless of geography, format or style.
- Point Of View. Today’s listeners know that no journalist is totally impartial, and they prefer news where the newscaster reveals their authentic opinions, emotions, inner thoughts, and personal stories that relate to the news.
- Interaction. Discussion about news stories with other show cast members always scores big in listener research. When there is disagreement about a story, make your newscast more dramatic by bringing that friendly conflict to the audience.
- Audio. Great newscasts bring the story to life with sound effects, actualities, and music. Audio serves as a pattern disruption to break up blocks of copy and to transition from one story to the next. Just as TV would never do news without video, radio should never do news without audio.
- Teasing. If your news is worth airing, it should be teased at least once, maybe twice, in the quarter hour before it airs. Great newscasts open immediately with a hook headline, often teasing the last story in the newscast to keep listeners through the segment.
- Killer content. Highlight stories, rather than information. Emphasize stories involving human behavior, conflict, emotion, and drama, instead of statistics and announcements about physical items. Example: Give more airtime to the brave police officer who rescued a child and minimize airtime for the city council approving the 2017 water treatment plant budget.
- Shorter stories and more stories. Today’s short-attention-span audiences listen in 140 characters. We recommend rapid-fire headline stories of 2-3 sentences each; a little longer for dramatic stories, less for information/statistics.
- Local first, then national, then world. Research shows that interest in what is happening in your signal area far surpasses interest in happenings from the rest of the world. Focus your news on what your listeners are talking about. When choosing between a world or local story of equal importance, choose local.
Jeff McHugh is known for developing remarkable talent for both morning and afternoon drive. He brings an uncommon mix of positivity, creativity, and strategy to the shows that he coaches. He is a member of the team at the Randy Lane Company.