A Blog-o About Blago: Hard News on Music Stations

Posted on June 28, 2011


Yesterday, right around the start of afternoon drive, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was found guilty on 17 of 20 counts in his corruption trial and is now facing as much as 300 years in prison.

That’s big news.

Big enough that everyone on the air in Chicago should be talking about it; regardless of format.

If you are on a talk or news station it’s a no-brainer but for music stations situations like this can be a little more challenging. 

You don’t normally cover news. Your audience isn’t expecting news coverage.

Here are a few suggestions to help you be prepared for, as Foghorn Leghorn used to say, just such an emergency.

Follow Local News: Part of your daily prep routine should be checking on local news stories. You should always be aware of what’s going on in your community.

Know A Reporter: Build a relationship with someone who you can have on the air to talk about local news stories that are big enough to warrant serious discussion. Make friends with a TV anchor, newspaper reporter or blogger who can speak authoritatively about the news.

Find an Angle: One thing late-night hosts like Jay Leno and David Letterman — and their staff writers — are good at is finding the less serious or ironic angles that every news story have.  After the story first breaks, there is a period of time when you should still be talking about the story but no longer need to cover the details. Look for a unique, and probably less serious, angle to focus on.

Ask for Help: If you aren’t sure how to approach a news story ask for help. Look for guidance from your program director, significant other or best friend. Get some outside perspective.

Don’t Guess: Misleading your audience is worse than not informing them at all. Stick to the facts and if you aren’t sure about a detail steer clear of it. 

And if all else fails, or even if it hasn’t, I suggest hiring a good mechanic.