Most radio stations, and the corporate groups that own them, still understand that they have some responsibility to deliver information to the communities they serve. In a lot of cases, that information is rudimentary: traffic reports, sports scores, “three things you need to know.” The days when it required a fully staffed newsroom are long gone. Even stations that still do formal newscasts aren’t necessarily hiring reporters to do them. The newscasts you hear on your local station may be written and delivered by somebody whose main training is not as a journalist.
Somebody like me, for example.
Apart from a one-semester course in high school, I have never had any formal training in journalism. But as a young radio man, I was fortunate enough to work with highly skilled broadcast journalists, and I learned what to do by watching and listening to them. On the air as a DJ, I sometimes find myself in the position of having to deliver the news, not in the formal newscast sense, but when a big story breaks while I’m on the air. Then, too, I rely on the lessons I learned watching legitimate pros of my acquaintance do their jobs.
(One thing I learned from those pros is that they would have disavowed the highfalutin’ term “broadcast journalist.” They would say that they were “radio reporters,” or “newsmen,” as the gender fit.)
The long-delayed fifth episode of my podcast is called “Delivering the News.” It’s about my experiences playing at radio newsman, about some of the people who taught me how to do it, and some of the memorable breaking-news stories I have reported as a DJ. You can listen to it right here.
I hope you enjoy the new one, and I welcome your comments on it.
One thought on “Delivering the News”
JB: Great stuff, great stories. I started doing news the same way you did—as a jock who had the catchers mitt when stuff hit the fan (Nixon resigning, the Lynyrd Skynyrd crash, John Lennon’s murder, the attempt on Reagan’s life)—and, like you, other than journalism classes in high school (which came with a position on the school paper), no formal training, but a lot of real newspeople in those first ten years of my career as a jock from whom to learn by osmosis and attention.
Somehow, I parlayed that into a radio newsroom gig (which only cost me $6,000 in base salary plus the loss of voiceover bucks), and then, eight months later into what I now call my “30 year detour in TV news.”
Now, it’s radio news again—and I’m having the best time I’ve ever had.