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Music Radio Can't Ignore The News...

 

Monday, July 15, 2019

 

I never worked for any kind of radio station except a music station, either as a jock or programmer. Although the format was music, at each station, when real breaking news happened we would run with it. Our breaking news has no comparison to what TV uses. TV uses the "breaking news" banner to keep you glued to your screen. Proof of that is the frequency of their "breaking news" stories and sometimes, news that is growing cobwebs, happening many hours before. No, I'm talking about assassinations, anti-Vietnam war protests and other major events that radio has covered over the years. There were good times too: landing on the moon, Woodstock and other major music festivals...

The earliest example of breaking news covered was the Kennedy assassination in 1963. WMID in Atlantic City ran the AP bulletin of JFK shot in Dallas. Bob McClay, who would later become a member of Tom Donahue's KMPX staff in San Francisco, was on the air and he read the bulletin. In just a few minutes we toned down our top 40 hits and played just the soft stuff from the top 40. We also grabbed a bunch of instrumentals by Mantovani, Roger Williams, Ray Conniff and the like. In about an hour we joined Mutual Radio and carried their news coverage of the entire weekend. When we did leave mutual we played only appropriate top 40 hits. The assassination is probably the best example of a news story that deserved to be carried even on music radio but there were Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Bobby Kennedy assassinations, the race riots and more. The 60s was a tumultuous era...

Cut to the present and Fred Jacobs of Jacobs Media is proposing that all formats of radio cover major stories that affect both local and national radio audiences, like the recent earthquakes in Southern California. Even music stations - and I agree. Jacobs: "It sure seems like there are more explosive stories these days - natural disasters, political shock, social unrest - than at any time in our collective memories. We can conjure up all sorts of reasons - rational and irrational - for why this is. But it just IS"...

Jacobs suggests that "whether you run a music station, you're in a top five market , you're all-news, or you're a public radio classical music station - you can't just execute your format and call it a day. The times demand an immediacy, a point of reference, a sense of place." This harkens back to a time when every music station I ever worked for would always break in with a major event, whether it was just a bulletin followed by an update or more in-depth coverage. When I worked in Florida we would always cover a hurricane until it passed and our audience could go out safely. The event itself will dictate when the danger has passed. At WCBS-FM we joined CBS News just a couple of hours after the 911 attacks...

In all cases, you should be targeting your local audience first with your information and do it with live reports. And provide up-dates when you have them...

I(n)M(y)O(pinion):

  • Keep it live and local when providing major information affecting your audience...
  • All good wishes and thoughts for Tedy Bruschi, who recently suffered a stroke...
  • Coco Gauff - a name to be reckoned with in the world of tennis...
  • The USA Women's soccer team deserved that great Broadway parade they received for being best in the world...
  • Cue up Jonathan King's 'Everyone's Gone To The Moon'. Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) and Elon Musk (Space X) are all in a space race...
  • Ross Perot made running for president as a third party candidate famous, but he also hurt Bush 41's chance of getting re-elected...
  • I hope a new claim from scientists that only Vitamin D & Folic acid are beneficial is true. I'm taking both...
  • Although the Beach Boys had tons of hits in all seasons throughout the years, I always think of the summer when I hear one of their songs...
  • I hope the report that the Super Bowl Champion Patriots are not visiting the White House is real...
  • You know the TV streaming wars are getting intense when there's a fight over "Friends"... 

 

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