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Using Experience to Enhance News Broadcasts

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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

Nielsen Braces Clients For Potential Challenges As Covid-19 Surges

“Some delays in recruitment and slight volatility in intab levels could occur over the next month.”

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All Access is reporting that Nielsen has alerted its clients of potential difficulties due to the COVID-19 surge. The measurement company which works with the majority of the radio broadcasting business has also relayed details of how it plans to handle the situation in order to deliver accurate and consistent audience estimates.

In the letter, Nielsen says it will continue executing in-person field work while using its established multi-mode recruitment and remote installation and maintenance procedures. However, the company cautioned that some delays in recruitment and slight volatility in intab levels could occur over the next month.

Nielsen further shared that it expected to have intab levels stabilized and back to current levels by the end of February or early March, depending on Omicron recovery rates. In-tab levels are expected to be closely monitored and field resources will be evaluated and adjusted if necessary.

Being able to rely on accurate radio measurement is important to radio stations and their advertisers. Though Nielsen says it is actively monitoring COVID infection rates in key panel markets, and any possible impact to its PPM inventory due to global supply chain challenges, the admission of potential challenges in executing as expected is likely to give radio executives and sales professionals a few extra headaches. The company says that it is confident that its contingency plans will mitigate risk, allowing it to move swiftly to ensure the accuracy and representativeness of its audience estimates. Whether that holds true or not will be depend on a myriad of factors over the next month.

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News Radio

Chicago Public Media Board Approves Sun-Times Merger

Last October, the two parties entered into a non-binding letter of intent to have the Sun-Times become a subsidiary of Chicago Public Media once they finalized the deal. 

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The Chicago Public Media Board of Directors, the parent company of news/talk WBEZ (91.5), gave the green light to acquire the Chicago Sun-Times. 

Last October, the two parties entered into a non-binding letter of intent to have the Sun-Times become a subsidiary of Chicago Public Media once they finalized the deal. 

“I’m deeply grateful to the Chicago Public Media Board of Directors for their work in leading us to this milestone,” Chicago Public Media Board Chair Piyush Chaudhari said in a release

“This new venture will be on its best path forward as we bring together two of Chicago’s most respected news organizations in our city and our region.” 

With the two forms of media coming together, it will create one of the nation’s largest local nonprofit news organizations and operate as a national example for the future of local journalism.

“This is an important step to grow and strengthen local journalism in Chicago,” Chicago Public Media CEO Matt Moog added. “A vibrant local news ecosystem is fundamental to a healthy democracy, informed citizens, and engaged communities.”

“Together, WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times aim to tell the stories that matter, serve more Chicagoans with our unbiased, fact-based journalism, and connect Chicagoans more deeply to each other and to their communities.”

The merger is expected to be completed by January 31.

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News Radio

Howard Stern: Unvaccinated Shouldn’t Be Admitted to Hospitals

During “The Howard Stern Show,” a caller named Aaron went back and forth with Howard Stern over hospitals using resources to treat the unvaccinated.

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The United States has seen an uptick in Covid-19 cases coming off the holiday season as various states see a spike in patients coming into their hospital to treat the virus. 

California’s hospitalization rates are up 109-percent in the last two weeks, and southern states are also seeing a surge over the past couple of weeks, per NBC News

During a segment on Sirius XM’s “The Howard Stern Show,” a caller named Aaron went back and forth with Howard Stern over hospitals using resources to treat the unvaccinated. 

“If it was up to me, anyone unvaccinated would not be admitted to a hospital,” Stern said. The radio host went on to belittle the beliefs of the people who have decided not to get vaccinated. 

“[People who] don’t trust our government. They think that there’s some conspiracy to turn them into a magnet or something like this. They think they are going to become magnetized if they take the vaccine.”

“I’ve taken this vaccine three times, and the worst side effect is for a day, I had a little bit of a headache.”

Furthermore, Stern went after those who labeled the vaccine as part of some conspiracy, which is why they chose not to take it. 

“No one’s sitting there conspiring against you. Americans don’t want to create a vaccine that’s going to turn you into a robot or magnetize you,” Stern said. “There’s enough Americans now have taken it. Look at us as a sampling where nothing has happened to us. It’s time for you to get it.”

“Now, if you don’t get it, in my America, all hospitals would be closed to you. You’re going to go home and die.”

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