News for Music Stations
May 31, 2011
The way listeners use news has changed ... and radio needs to grow with the times. Those five-minute news windows are becoming relics even to networks, and the new format for music-based stations is now measured in even smaller increments. That also means news sponsorships should shrink in size so that commercial time doesn't exceed content time during the cast.
What happens in a newscast is even more critical. With shorter attention spans and PPM ratings measurement, your first words need to hit the mark and relate. Think of a news story as two lines, with the first line stating the premise and setting a hook while the second line contains supportive facts. That model works for all but the most detailed stories (the exception to the rule). Listeners will distill a story to a line or two, so why not provide it in their "useful format?"
When writing stories, watch for bureaucratic titles, office names and descriptions. If you don't understand it clearly, neither will the listener. Economic stories may have larger impact, but relate it to your listeners. A 10% growth in worldwide food prices doesn't have impact on Susie in Bismarck. Explain what it means to her. A 5% tax increase means exactly what? Many people consider crime and education issues of top importance.
What does this mean for News and News/Talk stations? They, too, must deal with shorter attention spans. A mix of shorter stories and the occasional in-depth item will prove more interesting and improve your chances of holding that valued listener longer.