Using Experience to Enhance News Broadcasts
“Everyone has a podcast.”
A few months ago I was having a conversation with someone else in the media industry and they offered up this sentiment as a complaint and critique of the current landscape.
It reminded me of a very similar quote from one of my all-time favorite television shows, Parks and Recreation. Aziz Ansari’s character, Tom Haverford, explains to his boss why he’s so obsessed with screens and is non-stop on his phone consuming media.
“Everyone has a podcast, and they’re all awesome,” he said.
That quote really resonated with me, because it’s true. In today’s day and age, everyone is able to host and produce and create content in some way shape or form. That doesn’t mean you have to listen. It just opens the door for multiple opinions, experiences, ideas and creativity.
For example, the Nacho Average Podcast, where Haverford and his friend rate different nachos.
I find myself consuming a ton of different audio on a daily basis. Whether that’s live radio, or podcasts, or a video stream of a podcast, if you’re bold enough to put yourself out there, and the content piques my interest, i’ll definitely give it a chance.
Admittedly, though, I do have a quick hook.
And when it comes to news media – my area of focus here at Barrett News Media – I appreciate when hosts bends the rules we learned in Journalism 101.
The year is 2021, the second a news story breaks the good people at Apple already know if that story is of interest to me, or if the information if pertinent to my location and safety. Before news radio stations can even hit the breaking news hot key, a push notification has been sent to my home screen. Unfortunately, I don’t need to tune in to most stations for an update. It’s already in my pocket.
But most consumers of media want more. I don’t just want a headline written by someone 3,000 miles away. I prefer information and insight from someone who covers the area, who has driven on the local streets and knows a thing or two about the people in the community, and cares about them.
When it comes to news radio hosts, don’t be part of the story, but give listeners your true opinion on a subject based on your experiences. It adds an element of personality that you can’t get anywhere else. It allows consumers to be educated by a voice and experience they already trust. If you’re just reading a headline, listeners are switching to the next show or pod.
This is why diversity is so important in a news room, but more on that at a later date.
Cory Hepola is a host on News Talk 830 WCCO in Minneapolis. He’s a white guy with glasses, great hair and three of the cutest kids you will ever see. They’re black.
So last summer, when Minneapolis was at the center of the country’s racial conversation, his experience and commentary on a lot of the conversation, mattered a great deal. He was able to discuss in-depth what it’s like to grow up a white person in this country, juxtaposed against what it’s like to raise black children, and how the rules and conversations are different.
That experience had to be eye opening for a lot of listeners. A first hand account of real-life situations. Listeners wouldn’t have learned as much as they did had Hepola steered clear and only read the headline.
Not everyone agreed with everything he had to say, I’m sure, there are always doubters and deniers of your truth, but it was an important message, based on experience, that needed to be told.
I asked him about the fine line between discussing a news story and adding in personal anecdotes.
“I think there needs to be more transparency on what is “news” and what is opinion,” he said. “Far too many people are confusing facts and commentary. People need to take more personal responsibility to understand the difference, while some of it is a personal choice to follow a slant because it corroborates one’s own beliefs.
“That all said, it depends on a person’s job. If you’re a news reporter, you may end up diving into a story that you’re passionate about because you feel connected to it or it mirrors an experience you had. But it’s your job to tell the story accurately without making yourself the center.”
And that’s the key. His experience to a story may not be everyone’s. He’s certainly not the center of the story, but telling his truth enhances the report and allows people to think for themselves and maybe develop empathy and understanding for someone in a situation vastly different than their own.
Some may deny what he says, and others may have their eyes opened by it. Just stay away from the Twitter mentions.
In a world of around-the-clock news and headlines, if a local news radio host can relate, and is open to offering up their experiences to compliment a story, it’s going to captivate more audiences than just script reading.
The Daily Podcast from The New York Times doesn’t just read the headlines, they talk to experts who live and study the subject matter.
In a simpler form, what if Haverford didn’t actually eat and experience the nachos he talked about on his podcast, do you think the fictional characters of Pawnee would have listened?
Tony Cartagena is a former contributor to Barrett News Media. He has previously served as a Digital Content Manager for Audacy Minneapolis, a reporter and producer for ESPN Cleveland, Director of Content for ESPN Madison, and a producer for ‘Wilde & Tausch’. You can reach him on Twitter @TonyCartagena or by email at TonyJCartagena@gmail.com.
Dave Rubin: Twitter Spaces Glitches ‘Not A Big Deal’ During DeSantis Announcement
“Could they have done more so that it would’ve been a little smoother? Obviously. Are they trying something that’s a cutting-edge technology and there’s gonna be some bugs? Yeah.”
On the latest episode of his podcast, The Rubin Report, Dave Rubin weighed in on Ron DeSantis’ Twitter announcement, sharing his behind-the-scenes perspective.
Rubin has been an avid and early DeSantis supporter, advocating for his COVID policies and relocating to Florida during the pandemic. Rubin began the show by making it clear he does not take any money from the DeSantis campaign, he said, “I have never been nor would ever take a dime from the campaign, I will be very clear about that right now.”
Rubin went on to address his perspective on DeSantis’ decision to launch his presidential campaign on Twitter and the technical difficulties that started it off on a bumpy road.
“Now, I do want to address the Twitter Spaces thing because I was at Twitter, I was actually right outside Twitter as the space was going on listening on my earbuds and then I was upstairs at Twitter right after with Elon and a David Sacks in the group.
“There were some technical difficulties up top. It took them about 20 minutes. There were so many people flooding the system.”
Rubin advocated for DeSantis and minimized the issue in reference to the new ground he is attempting to break.
“Could they have done more so that it would’ve been a little smoother? Obviously. Are they trying something that’s a cutting-edge technology and there’s gonna be some bugs? Yeah. I don’t think it turned out to be a big deal.”
He then described the all-facts, no-show approach DeSantis is appearing to take, in contrast to Trump, “I think that’s what we’re getting from DeSantis right now. It’s like a serious person, like here’s what I’ve done, and what I will do, and here’s why I’m going to do it.”
Rubin also addressed the widespread speculation surrounding questions being screened for DeSantis prior to being asked in the Twitter Space, “I talked to Sacks after, and he 100% did not screen the questions. I was actually in there there’s a way that you can sort of signal that you wanna ask a question.”
Maddy Troy serves as a writer and editor for Barrett News Media, with a specific focus on media business, advertising, and podcasting. You can find her on Twitter @Troy_Maddy.
Nick Kayal: There’s A Battle Brewing Between Fox News and MSNBC
“I’d love to be in one of those meetings where they say ‘Ok, how do we balance — we wanna make more money, but I’d love to have 2.7 million viewers and not 1.6 (million).”
Fox News has been subject to a ratings dip after it unceremoniously fired Tucker Carlson late last month. 1210 WPHT morning host Nick Kayal noted there’s a fight brewing between the network and MSNBC.
“This is interesting with Fox News. Now, it’s still early, so I’m not going to say ‘Oh my God, Fox News is dead. Bury ’em, they’re gone, forget about ’em’, but MSNBC is beating Fox in last week’s ratings,” the Kayal & Company host said Friday. “They’re beating them in many different demos and dayparts. And not just at night. Morning Joe beat FOX & Friends by almost 100,000 viewers…Sean Hannity gets crushed by Rachel Maddow, and Laurence O’Donnell is beating Laura Ingraham.
“So, if I’m Fox, and I’m looking at my primetime ratings right now, Hannity is losing to MSNBC, Ingraham is losing to MSNBC, I’m beating MSNBC with a bunch of rotating fill-in dudes, and gals. The only thing I feel good about is Jesse Watters at 7:00 PM ET, is doubling up Joy Reid. I feel good about 8:00 PM ET. I have no consistency in that spot, and it’s still beating MSNBC in that 8 o’clock spot.
“And we gave you that story about how a lot advertisers coming back to Fox in that 8 o’clock spot, because Tucker Carlson wasn’t deemed to be advertiser-friendly ’cause he had the most stones to say stuff that others won’t say and go into topics others won’t go into.”
Kayal then noted that the network could be pulled in two directions due to an increased revenue but a decrease in total audience.
“It’s interesting because if you think about the balance, you’re making more money, but you’re not getting as many eyeballs. I’d love to be in one of those meetings where they say ‘Ok, how do we balance — we wanna make more money, but I’d love to have 2.7 million viewers and not 1.6 (million). Very interesting dynamic. MSNBC has picked up in some other spots, not named the Tucker Carlson spot. I don’t know if that has sustainability or lasting power. But it seems there’s a little bit of a battle between Fox and MSNBC.”
Mark Arum: Less Than 10% Of Our Audience Listens on AM Radio
“The decline of AM radio listenership has been substantial.”
The potential demise of AM radio has been a hot-button issue in news radio circles, despite a recent victory with Ford announcing it would resume placing the band back into its 2024 models. 95.5 WSB host Mark Arum noted that while AM radio has been an important part of the station’s past, it doesn’t hold much weight in 2023.
“WSB Radio is 101 years old. You’ve heard amazing stuff on AM 750 throughout the years,” Arum said, as the station played the clip of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974.
“So many amazing and historical moments happened on AM 750. Now, I know the majority of you are probably listening to the FM stream at 95.5 online or on the app. There’s a million ways to do it. The decline of AM radio listenership has been substantial. I believe, at last check, less than 10% of our listeners listen on our AM signal. The future of AM radio has been in doubt,” Arum said.
“I am an unabashed lover of AM radio. I used to listen with a little transistor radio underneath the covers. I’ve been fearful of the future of AM radio.”
Jeffery Gilbert of Newsradio WWJ 950 in Detroit joined Arum to discuss the situation, and when asked if the move to remove AM radio from vehicles was a political one, he said that was a shortsighted view.
“I think it’s a money issue, not a political issue. Because carmakers are always looking for every cost advantage they can get. It’s why you don’t see CD players in vehicles anymore. They cost money, they add weight, and people don’t want them anymore. I think Ford was getting a little ahead of everybody else, feeling that AM radio was something like that, that it was something they could get rid of easily…Quite frankly, until we as broadcasters give people a lot more on AM, it’s going to continue to be an issue.”