Unit 41: News For Radio Programming


95 years ago in Pittsburg, USA, KDKA transmitted the first ‘regular licensed radio broadcast’. Even with the advancement in technology and devices available for consumers over the decades, radio continues to stay resolute in the face of other more extravagant media platforms.

Yet, how does radio stay current in this digital age? In an article by Clare Dwyer Hogg for The Independent (Which you can access here), we made notes on 3 key points which are as follows;

1) How is radio becoming resilient in a digital age?

”We exist in an age in which new technology is fiercely competing, and consistently evolving, to allow individuals to be as powerful in their personal listening habits as possible.”

”Despite iPods and digital downloads…the most recent figures from RAJAR/Ipsos Mori/RSMB show that 91% of the UK population is tuning in to a radio station each week. That translates to 48.38 million people; 36.22 million of whom are listening to the BBC. (A corporation founded in 1922, in an era when radio itself was still considered somewhat magical.)

2) How people are affected by radio in the 21st Century?

”It is a medium that requires our imagination to be active in the listening, and so has a different and inherent lineage for each listener…Radio is more nebulous than television, but perhaps more far-reaching because of it.”

”In the same way, familiar voices, less quick to age and change than faces, are triggers for memories, soundtracks to periods of life.”

”And just like voting habits, many families have an allegiance to particular stations- sport, news, music- that become a subliminal imprint.”

3) How has technology changed the way we listen to the radio?

”Meanwhile on Radio 1, the Twitter feed is followed by 1.67 million people, who receive constant updates about song choices, competitions and upcoming events. And the listeners, mostly teens and students who are tooled up when it comes to social media- tweet back. A conversation is happening…”

”Twitter can be used to gauge their reaction.”

”People expect to hear the news first on radio, and then expect better quality discussions and analysis, and more quickly.”

”Indie radio- radio is becoming increasingly edgy, commissioning programmes that before would have been considered ‘dangerous”’


To identify different radio stations and look at their style and intended target audience, as well as cover a brief overview of the differences between local and national radio, a presentation was made to illustrate these factors;

Radio Presentation

Forms & Styles

Radio, as with all media formats, caters for different audiences with different purposes. Arguably, unlike conventional television, radio is able to transcend into listener’s lives- accompanying them on car journeys, work offices and in their living rooms.

By looking at two radio stations which were randomly selected to us, we can examine how they are structured and the way in which they broadcast news in particular.


BBC 5 Live predominately covers, news, sport and live commentaries; having the prestige of being the largest radio station for sport in the UK. Chris Warburton and Clare McDonnell makes this apparent; as the opening deals with a story revolving around cricket and focusing on a human interest piece on Ben Stoke’s father’s comments as his son scored the quickest ever test century at Lords. This automatically caters to the heavily interested sport audience they attract due to their content.

The main body of the news headlines look at national and international stories- at the time of listening, this included such things as ground rules being put in place by David Cameron for the EU referendum, a murder case in Oxford and a corrective lens able to correct dyslexia.

This broadness in individual stories gives a diversity to what is covered in the broadcast and is a clear sign that its purpose is on a global scale. These types of stories would differ on a local radio station, for instance, as the content needs to relate to the audience and connect with them through with a relevance based on the area the station covers.

In terms of duration, the news headlines run for an average of 15 minutes which, when compared to BBC 1’s Newsbeat, is considerably longer and more in-depth. Radio news headlines are often used to give listeners a brief summary of information that is expanded upon in more detail through other platforms including the internet and television.

Each item on 5 Live Breakfast was delivered by the presenter in a clear, direct manner that emphasises key points or statistics. A device used is passing to members of the BBC news team to elaborate on items to give both more information and authority on what details are being put forward.

The main show opens with reading the day’s newspaper headlines and commenting on them by getting the views of political correspondents or specialists, like Robin Brant who was used to discuss the notion of 16-17 year olds being unable to vote in the EU referendum.

There are no questions specifically posed, but the presenter expands on them in more detail- alluding to points and using spokespersons to develop the story.

If 5 Live demonstrates debating and news, then Heart Radio is the antithesis; focusing on music and advertisements. In all honesty, at no point did I come across any news items whilst listening to Heart Radio, but this is a reflection on the versatility of the format and a prime example of commercial radio.


With the advancement of technology, listeners are able to listen to Heart online or through their mobile devices. This is a sign of radio adapting to the times and appealing to a largely young audience Heart attracts.

These two radio stations display both their audience as both active and passive.

As Roger Bolton discovered, whilst seeing how the BBC4 show ‘Broadcasting House‘ interacts with their listeners. Discussion and debate can add an extra dimension to a broadcast by receiving comments from listeners in the form of phone-ins, emails or tweets. this communication is evidence of an active audience. This connection to the audience often defines shows, as Broadcasting House’s Assistant Editor Eleanor Twisk stated; ‘‘We read the inbox with great interest. While we’re on air and while we’re not on air. We’re very interested in the reaction to the programme…thats the lifeblood of the programme.”

A passive audience is the opposite, whereby they are purely listening, rather than being involved with the conversation or debate. Traditional news broadcasts are an example of how an audience is restricted in their involvement.

As we have seen, whether radio news teams are crossing live to the scene of a crime or debating issues in the studio, radio is as powerful a format as ever- and with the addition of social media, audiences are able to be heard on stories they care about, which additionally increases the scope and depth of the news.


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