This morning I woke up before the sun. My alarm went off at the lovely hour of 4 a.m. and I must admit, I was not excited about it. Not that I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to my plans for this morning, but let’s just say at 4 a.m., the only thing I want to be doing is sleeping.
So why did I wake up before the crack of dawn this morning? Today I had my first live broadcast on the University’s radio station. I’m currently enrolled in COMM329, Broadcast News Writing, as a requirement for my journalism minor. As part of my grade for the class, I have to go to WVUD, UD’s radio station, and do live newscasts on the air. I have to admit, I really wasn’t excited about this when I first found out. I thought we would learn how to write stories in broadcast style and maybe get up in front of the class and recite those to practice actually “broadcasting.” I was in no way prepared to go to a real radio station, where real people listen, and do real, live newscasts.
We had an orientation session at the station to learn how to use all the recording technology and the Associated Press newswire computer application. After the orientation, I can’t say that I felt totally comfortable with the assignment. Fortunately, our first newscast was done with a partner so I wasn’t alone in trying to navigate my way through broadcasting.
While I still don’t feel completely at ease with broadcast, today was really eye-opening in terms of how the radio works. I certainly learned a lot but I know that there’s so much more to learn in order to improve myself. However, I think I’ll certainly have time for improvement with 2 more solo newscasts throughout the semester. But here are a few lessons learned from day one:
- Not a lot is going on at 6 a.m. Maybe today was just a boring day in the world, but I was really struggling to find current news stories for my earlier newscasts at 6:30 and 7 a.m. Obviously at that time, there’s new things happening all around the world, but I found it difficult to report to a local audience when a vast majority of them are still sleeping or just waking up. There was a good variety of international news but with two and a half minute newscasts at 6:30 a.m., it’s most important to get the information locals really care about, rather than what’s happening across the world.
- Not all news is newsworthy. Just because a story may be interesting to you, it does not mean that the rest of the world cares. Especially when it comes to two and a half or five minute newscasts where it’s important to share the most imperative information. I found myself considering sharing the recent news of The Bachelor season finale (I’m a TV addict, sorry) but had to stop myself, realizing that most people won’t care about this when they’re just trying to find out the latest, most important news during their morning commute.
- Rewording isn’t as easy as I thought. Today, one of the big stories that I wrote was about the primaries in Mississippi and Alabama. I felt this was an important story to share during all of my newscasts seeing as many people want to be updated on politics (maybe I’m wrong about that; it was only my first day). However, it’s important to change up the stories a little bit so you’re not constantly repeating yourself but I found it difficult to update the story and change the wording to switch it up.
- Broadcast is conversational. Going into today, I felt like I was going to have to be super formal and perfectly recite my stories into the microphone. However, I was reminded when I heard the DJs this morning talking on the air that broadcast is just a conversation. I was just sharing the news with my audience. It’s not wrong to fumble on your words every once in a while and correct yourself and it’ll most likely even make your audience more comfortable.
- Just breathe. When you get stressed and you have 2 minutes before you go on the air and you still haven’t reworded your story, just take a deep breath and calm down. Sure, broadcast can be stressful but it’s important to stay calm. In addition to breathing to stay calm, it’s important to breathe while reading the news. Speak slowly and clearly and don’t forget to breathe!
These are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned and I’m looking forward to getting some more experience at the station. Despite my hesitation, I’m really grateful that my school does have a radio station and that my class gives me the opportunity to actually get real experience as a broadcaster. Although broadcast may not be my ultimate goal at this point, I fully believe in a holistic approach to education and broadcast is just one of the many facets of communication.