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Using Experience to Enhance News Broadcasts

Tony Cartagena

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“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?

News Radio

Jay Weber: Media ‘Covering’ For Biden, Democrats On Border Crisis

“Biden and the Democrats are allowing it to happen. Allowing it! And the news media covers for them.”

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Many conservative commentators have maligned the interview President Joe Biden conducted with Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes last Sunday, and have claimed he got a “pass” on the nation’s southern border. 1130 WISN host Jay Weber can be added to that list.

“Trust me, if a Republican was president, dozens of terrorists roaming America because of the president — intentionally — reopened the borders, it would be a huge deal and a relentless obsession by the news media,” Weber said. “Biden and the Democrats are allowing it to happen. Allowing it! And the news media covers for them.”

Weber pointed out a perceived hypocrisy in liberal circles, as many have claimed Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is guilty of kidnapping after sending illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, MA, but are ok allowing the southern border to remain open.

He continued by pointing out the southern border’s role in national security, saying it took only 13 people to attack America on 9/11.

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News Radio

Dan Mandis: There’s A Reason Greg Gutfeld Is Winning Late-Night Competition

“There are consequences for doing that. It is now well known that Greg Gutfeld, over there on Fox News, is beating the snot out of Stephen Colbert.”

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In August, Greg Gutfeld of Fox News overtook other late-night television hosts in the ratings. Friday, SuperTalk 99.7 WTN morning host Dan Mandis said there’s a reason for that.

After playing a recent clip from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Mandis said it was the chief reason why network shows are losing to Gutfeld. In the clip, Colbert’s audience cheers when the host brings up a Texas sheriff opening an investigation into the actions of Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) for shipping illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, MA. Colbert called DeSantis “a body builder who skips head day” in his monologue, and Mandis found the comments offensive. He claimed shows on ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX should be a place for all viewers, not just members of the “progressive left”.

“To me, Colbert’s show should be on CNN or MSNBC to cater to the left,” Mandis said. “But again, he’s on the network where he should be welcoming for all. There are consequences for doing that. It is now well known that Greg Gutfeld, over there on Fox News, is beating the snot out of Stephen Colbert. I know what you’re thinking. ‘Isn’t Gutfeld blowing off half of America?’ Perhaps, but he’s on Fox News, where people know what they’re going to get.”

Mandis then pointed out the difference in Gutfeld’s approach compared to Colbert’s, saying Gutfeld’s panel approach is easier to digest than Colbert’s solo monologue followed by celebrity interviews.

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News Radio

Will Dahlberg New GM For WBHM

“I look forward to working with our team, our listeners and our supporters in the weeks and years ahead to put more ‘public’ in public media by better serving all our communities.”

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WBHM, the news/talk station owned by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has named Will Dahlberg as its new Executive Director and General Manager.

“Working at WBHM for the past decade has been the highlight of my professional career, and I am honored to serve as executive director,” Dahlberg said. “I appreciate the search committee’s confidence in my abilities to lead this amazing station and the talented and diverse team that works hard to serve our community. I am so grateful to the amazing WBHM team for their time, support and patience during my time as interim and throughout this search. I am also grateful to the many people at UAB who continue to support WBHM’s important mission.”

He also added how important WBHM has been, and will continue to be to the greater Birmingham communitiy.

“WBHM has done an excellent job as a public radio station since 1976, but it is important that we continue to strive to do more,” Dahlberg continued. “I look forward to working with our team, our listeners and our supporters in the weeks and years ahead to put more ‘public’ in public media by better serving all our communities. As Birmingham evolves, so should its public radio station, and I can’t wait for us to do that together.”

Dahlberg has previously worked as the Deputy Director and Membership Manager for the station. He has been the interim executive director since mid-2021.

“Will has more than a decade of experience at WBHM in a range of roles, including 15 months as interim executive director, and his passion for public radio and the people it serves is evident in everything he does,” said UAB Chief Communications Officer Jim Bakken. “WBHM provides an invaluable service to the Birmingham community and beyond, and Will’s commitment and vision will lead the station in delivering on its mission.”

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