Just Because It Happened, Doesn’t Make it News

If you were programming a music station, you would play some songs more than others. And some songs you won’t play at all. They’re not hits. Or they don’t fit.

It’s the same with non-music segments like news, traffic, entertainment reports and weather.

What are the hits? Simple. The most interesting, useful, compelling and top of mind topics. Your job is to entertain, not inform.

For newscasts, who really cares what the city council decided in their meeting last night? Even if it’s meaningful in the community, that doesn’t make it interesting. Nor does it mean that it fits your station or your show.

Everything must pass through your station’s personality filter. That will affect story selection, writing style, presentation and production elements.

What That Means To You

Identify the most important content for your brand. It could be that your audience has no interest in typical news, but can’t get enough celebrity gossip. To them, pop culture is the news.

Here’s results from a research project for a station targeting 18-49 women. The question: “What is important for information updates on the air?”

The blue bar is the percentage of those that say it’s important or very important to them.

If I were programming that station, and more than 2/3 of my audience said they were interested in what’s happening in pop culture, celebrity gossip and what is trending today, I’d be all over it with segments 3-4 times per hour. Wouldn’t you?

And traditional news updates? A waste of time on this station. For this audience, if it happens in pop is their news.

Story Selection

Maybe you’re not ready to give up traditional newscasts. Or, maybe the GM will freak out if sponsorship opportunities disappear and getting rid of an official news update isn’t an option. Now what?

Simple: Write for your audience. If you target young men, select stories and a writing style that fit their lifestyle. If you’re an AC station that targets moms, write to them.

For example:

On the AC station targeting moms,important news would more likely include an update on safety at local schools, a study that shows children gain weight during the summer and how sunscreen doesn’t protect kids from the deadliest forms of skin cancer.

On the rock station targeting young men, interesting stories might include a story about the date rape trial in the community, the impact of the local sports team’s star player getting hurt, information on a local beer festival this weekend and an update on when tickets for a concert go on sale.

And neither would include a story about the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates or gridlock in congress.

You can’t just rip and read the headlines from a news source and hope listeners will find it worthwhile. That’s not how it works. Stories must be curated to fit the personality of your brand.

Program the hits, as defined by your audience.

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