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Ideas and technique to help you promote and image radio

Tips for music PDs who manage news

Radio and TV course

So you thought you were running a hit music station? This week’s events mean it could be right to break your normal format and add a lot more local news.

But Richard Horsman spotted a problem in that many PDs come from music roles and, in his words, “don’t ‘do’ news”. Yesterday I took a call from a music radio programmer who felt out of their depth.

So here are seven tips for music programmers, suddenly faced with doing news:

1. Integrate your news team with your programming team.
Plan, brief and debrief together. Use your journalists as co-hosts or presenters’ friends and use your presenters’ close affinity with listeners to draw out personal stories, insights and reactions.

2. Update always.
Use bulletins to sum-up what you know as fact. Label it clearly as such.

3. Keep your programmes, bulletins and website in sync.
If listeners are appearing on air as witness to a major incident on air at 10.40am, make sure it’s acknowledged in the 11am bulletin. If it’s not confirmed, say so.

4. Remind music presenters about broadcast law.
People are being arrested and charged. Listeners on air may make allegations. You’ll want to avoid contempt, defamation and other legal perils.

5. Change your music carefully.
Pull inappropriate songs. If you’re playing less music, cut the spice categories and depth before disrupting the A list.

6. Explain everything. 
Use IDs, trails and presenters to explain what you’re doing on your station and why, but tell it, don’t sell it.

7. Be a leader.
Listen to listeners, trust your journalists (they’re qualified professionals) and trust your gut feeling. Make and communicate your decisions. Your judgement and leadership really counts. It’s why you’re a PD.

I hope this is helpful. Please use the comments (or contact me) to add further tips.