USC Annenberg Media Resources

Directing for radio newscasts

The director is the person who controls the output of the newscast and is responsible for the show while it’s live on the air

BEFORE THE SHOW:

The director is typically responsible for making sure EVERY item listed in the rundown is actually going to make it on air. This means following up with reporters and producer, checking on audio for cut/copies, confirming any live hits with the producer and the reporter, making sure there is nothing unusual planned, etc.

The director also should meet with the board operator at least half hour before the show to alert them to any extra music bridges, unusual audio pieces or live hits in the show.

LIVE ON THE AIR:

The director MUST maintain eye contact with the hosts and be visible to the hosts at all times. You will be giving them visual cues for when to speak, when to wrap up an interview, when to move on to another story, etc., and they can’t take cues if they can’t see you.

Typically, the director will give the hosts a verbal warning in the talkback (the studio microphone that feeds into the hosts’ headphones) when they will be reading from the script. A ten second warning is usually good but can be agreed upon between the director and the host.

Ten seconds before the host will begin reading give them an in-ear cue: “Ten Seconds.”

Five seconds before they will begin reading give them a visual countdown with your fingers. 5, 4, 3, 2 and GO. Pointing usually works but you can work out a specific cue with your host.

Make sure you’re watching the countdown clock on the board while a piece is playing so you’re able to cue the host when it’s over. It’s easy to get distracted while longer pieces are playing and you want to make sure your host is alert and ready when their mic comes back on.

KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR TIMING!!

This is very important. If the show is not timing out properly, either running too long or short, it’s up to the director to get things back on track. There are a few ways you can do this:

MUSIC BRIDGES: Bridges can be your best friend when it comes to timing out a show. If you’re running 20 seconds short towards the end of the show, play a longer music bridge. If you have a 30 second bridge in the rundown but you’re short on time – switch it to a 5 second sting to save time. Playing around with the music can give you wiggle room in timing out a broadcast.

COPY STORIES: It’s a good idea to keep a few extra edited copy stories at the bottom of the rundown in case a story falls through, there are technical problems or the broadcast comes out shorter than expected. The host should know where the stories are and be able to access them quickly if needed. Keeping them right below the broadcast line in the rundown is a good idea. But make sure they’re accurate and edited since they very well might make it to air!

CUTTING OFF A STORY: No one wants their story cut off while it’s on the air but sometimes it’s necessary to keep a broadcast from running long. If you have to do this – listen for a natural break in the story where it would make sense to quickly fade it out. Don’t cut it off in the middle of a track or an actuality. Always follow up with “that story was produced by Joe Annenberger,” since the fade out will cut off their reporter outcue.

 

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