Newsreading: How to stand out from the crowd
Radio newsreading is a subjective business. Certain presenters might have a particular style or delivery that resonates with some listeners, yet grates on others.
But one thing’s for sure: News Directors will tell you there’s a big difference between reading a story and TELLING a story.
With fierce competition for news jobs within the industry, it’s important to stand out from the crowd.
Radio Today asked two respected industry figures – past and present – what they’d look for in a demo tape.
And the qualities they value are remarkably similar.
Melbourne-Adelaide SCA News Editor James Royce told Radio Today:
“I want to hear confidence, warmth, energy, authority and authenticity. I can always tell when someone is simply ripping a wire script or actually knows the story and can tell it to me, rather than read it to me.”
“And perhaps more importantly, I want to know they’ve listened to our stations and products and provided an example of how they would sound on our assets. It’s that kind of effort and attention that can be the difference!”
Former KZ FM Melbourne News Director Michael Lynch is also quick to highlight the important distinction between ‘reading’ a story and ‘telling’ it.
Michael shared with Radio Today the number one quality he’d look for in a demo:
“A good authoritative delivery and a perception that the presenter understood what he/she was reading, something that’s largely achieved by the use of selective emphasis.”
He’s observed that news presentation has changed over the decades, and not always for the better.
“One of the positives is that there appear to be greater opportunities for women in the electronic news medium.
But he notes there appears to be a lack of on-the-job training in radio newsrooms nowadays.
He’s also noticed a lack of adherence to correct grammar, and cites the following examples:
‘There’s several ways this can be achieved, instead of ‘there are several ways this can be achieved.’
‘It’s been another horror (instead of horrific) weekend on our roads.’
‘A new opinion poll shows the Coalition are (is) on track to lose at least 4 seats at the federal election.’
“The use of the adverb in news stories seems to have completely disappeared,” says Michael. For example: “The woman got out of the burning house as quick as she could, instead of as quickly as she could.
On the plus-side, Michael says one of the most positive advancements in the compilation of radio news bulletins has been the emergence of digitalisation, which has greatly accelerated audio editing.
So, some solid advice indeed.
It’s all about attention to detail. Oh, and one more piece of advice that I was given many years ago. Don’t try to sound like someone else. Just be yourself. After all, everyone else is taken.
News positions are regularly advertised on the Radio Today jobs page.
Sarah Patterson is News Director at Air News and former newsreader at Triple M Melbourne, Fox FM, Smooth, Nova, Gold FM, SEN and RSN 927.