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Using Experience to Enhance News Broadcasts

Tony Cartagena

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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

Howard Stern Reveals MSNBC Go-To Source for News

Stern told “Morning Joe” in an extensive interview that MSNBC is the network for him regarding cable news consumption.

Eduardo Razo

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SiriusXM radio host Howard Stern told “Morning Joe’s” Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist in an extensive interview that MSNBC is the network for him regarding cable news consumption. 

Stern stated that he’s a major fan of “Morning Joe” and went the extra mile to say that he and co-host Joe Scarborough share the same political idealogy.

“I watch you guys every morning,” Stern said (h/t Mediaite). “I really enjoy the show. Oddly, I agree politically with almost everything Joe says. I don’t think there’s much difference there.”

The radio host thanked MSNBC for providing him with what he loves: 24/7 news. Additionally, Stern offered a shoutout to network host Symone Sanders and stated he’s no fan of Dateline repeats.

“By the way, I want to give a shoutout to MSNBC,” Stern added. “Thank God you don’t play the old Datelines anymore on the weekends. I like news. I watch this channel exclusively for news. I tune out on the weekend. 

“It’s like all news stuff. I’m watching old Datelines. I like when you guys are onI like news 24/7, and now I find I’m getting it. I get Symone on the weekend. Big fan of hers. Symone coming on strong. What can I tell you? I know the whole lineup.”

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News Radio

Trespassing Charges Against John DePetro Dismissed

DePetro have been dismissed as he faced a trespassing charge related to an incident over the summer during a Monday court hearing.

Eduardo Razo

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Charges against John DePetro have been dismissed as the radio host faced a trespassing charge related to an incident over the summer during a Monday court hearing.

DePetro was arrested in mid-August outside a home on Staples Avenue in Warwick.

Police searched the house several months earlier as part of an investigation into the disappearance of Charlotte Lester, who has been missing for six months.

“I respect our justice system and respect law enforcement, specifically the Warwick PD,” DePetro said on Twitter. “The search for Charlotte Lester continues as I resume efforts searching for answers into her disappearance and holding Mark Perkins accountable for his actions against myself and Ladybug.”

The man who lives there, Mark Perkins, was also arrested the following day after he allegedly charged at DePetro with a lawnmower while DePetro was live-streaming. 

Unlike DePetro, who had his charges dismissed, Perkins still faces an assault charge, according to court records.

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News Radio

Oklahoma’s The Eagle 96.9 Rebrands as Freedom 96.9

KZLS started simulcasting on KQOB at the beginning of this year after the 96.9 signal was leased to Citadel and Cumulus Media for nineteen years. 

Eduardo Razo

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Champlin Broadcasting Conservative Talk The Eagle 96.9 KQOB Enid/Oklahoma City and 1640 KZLS Enid will look a little different for its listeners as the station has rebranded.

Rather than calling itself The Eagle 96.9, the radio station will now be known as Freedom 96.9 (h/t Radio Insight). KZLS started simulcasting on KQOB at the beginning of this year after the 96.9 signal was leased to Citadel and Cumulus Media for nineteen years. 

The station features a syndicated lineup, including Hugh Hewitt, Brian Kilmeade, Dan Bongino, Mike Gallagher, Joe Pags, and Bill O’Reilly. Furthermore, with the rebrand possibly comes a new addition.

Freedom 96.9 is teasing the addition of Dana Loesch to the lineup as well to enhance the rebrand further as the station begins a new chapter as it provides news/talk to the residents. 

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