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How and When to Interact During News

Audiences find newscasts more engaging when there is interaction between on-air hosts. But how much conversation is too much? What stories should hosts discuss and how do you know when to move on?

On an information-oriented TV or radio show, it is important to remember that the audience is there for the news. If the news is the cake, team interaction is the icing; be sure to serve more cake than icing — not the other way around.  

On a personality-oriented show, like morning radio where the hosts are established stars and the news is a secondary, a news story can be a launching platform for an entertaining back-and-forth that has wider appeal.

Either way, what makes your show unique is character, and interaction reveals the chemistry of the team and highlights contrasts between players.  There is no one correct way to interact, but consider inserting conversation into the news whenever you can do one of these things:

  1. Relate a personal story. Sharing a real-life experience provides perspective, it adds to authenticity and builds a relationship bond between you and the audience. And everyone loves a good story.
  2. Reveal emotion. Notice what feelings arise as you encounter certain stories and remember that the audience is likely feeling what you are. Let it show through your face, body language, tone of voice and emotion words like anxious, happy, frustrated, etc. Also: Consider sharing emotion instead of opinion on divisive topics. The audience may disagree if you say “we need fewer guns” or “we need more guns,” but everyone can agree that “an angry person with an assault weapon is frightening.”
  3. Tell me something I didn’t know. We all retain bits of interesting trivia that seem useless until you can drop that factoid like a perfect little cherry on top of an already good story. Bringing on an expert or specialist reporter to discuss a subject briefly can also add interesting conversation.
  4. Spark friendly conflict. Audiences love playful razzing between on-air hosts. When a story highlights differences in your point of view – sports rivalries, different personal interests or contrasting habits — revealing those gives the show authentic character depth, a little harmless drama and fun.
  5. Be funny. A genuine chuckle brings a brilliant energy change from news that is often dark, discouraging and monotone. Look for opportunities to be entertaining and informative.

A little spontaneity can be OK, but plan ahead to get more memorable interactions. It is not necessary to script it out, but try coordinating where interaction will take place in the newscast and a get a general head’s up about where each player is headed in the conversation.