Putting together a radio news bulletin is like serving up a satisfying meal that nourishes and prepares your audience for the day. It's not about making yourself sound great. It has to be focused, digestible, easy to listen to and catch the attention of the audience.
1: Remember who is listening and broadcast for them
Think target audience. You need to know who is tuning in for the information you are delivering and what they need to know. A national audience is not the same as an international audience. Focus on the news stories and information that is relevant for your radio station’s targeted audience.
Your top stories are not necessarily the biggest stories, but will be those that have the most impact on the lives of your target audience. These top stories will define how close your news organization is to that audience.
The audience will be listening for information that they can use. Your top stories must make up their staple diet of ‘must know’ information.
This story choice will enforce your credibility as a relevant information provider in the minds of your audience.
Putting the top stories first also guarantees that listeners catch the most relevant news, even if they cannot listen to your entire bulletin.
2: Variety is the spice of life
Offer an information mix. News tends to be multi-coloured and multi-faceted, as is real life. If you are covering politics you must highlight how the issue impacts on the lives of your audience and not dwell on the politics alone (unless you are running a narrowly focused radio station.)
Always try to include the voice of those affected by whatever the story is highlighting.
If you are covering a corruption story, it’s important that you talk to the victims and the man and woman in the street.
Your audience will have a wide range of interests and concerns including health, education, jobs, homes, science and technology, culture, social developments, sports etc.
Most of the time, this means providing a mix of news, current affairs and other information items.
3: Would you want to listen to yourself?
A voice that pleases is important to ensuring the audience returns.
Try recording a few of your bulletins and listen back to them. Would you like to wake up every day and listen to that? If not, do something about it.
Audio creates emotions. An attractive voice that catches the attention of the audience is important. The last thing you want is a grating voice that makes people switch off.
Avoid the sing-song voice that plays the same tune for every sentence, going up in tone and down at the end regardless of what is being said.
And never give the impression that you think you know more than the audience. There will be someone listening who knows far more than you. Never patronize.
Access the full list here.