Don't Overlook the Fundamentals

Dec 4, 2013

This is not a commercial for WKNO-FM, but I want to tell you one reason why I enjoy listening to the news on this station.

The unusual news features we hear on Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

I don't know this for a fact, but I think a lot of the obscure and fascinating stories are reported by college students or rookies. First, they sound that young. Second, they report the story as taught. They are very thorough.

Touch every base of the story. Assume nothing. Overlook nothing. Explain where they are. The circumstances. Paint colorful word descriptions. Give an opening summary as well as a closing summary.

When I studied radio broadcasting, we were taught to tell you what we're going to tell you. Then tell you. Then tell you what we just told you.

That may sound silly or like double-talk. It isn't. Because most likely you are doing one or more other things while you're listening to the radio.

Unlike a newspaper, you can't look back at the previous paragraph a second or third time. NPR features tend to have these innocent, fundamental qualities that are lacking in many commercial broadcasters who have gotten lazy and overlook the fundamentals.

That's a great point, isn't it? Don't ever forget the fundamentals of your business.

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