Radio news is starting to shift away from bulletin appointment listening says SBS Radio

The production of radio news is starting to shift away from the hourly news bulletin deadlines, says SBS Radio’s Mark Cummins.

Speaking at the National Radio Conference in Melbourne, Cummins, content manager, audio and language content at SBS Radio, said: “We could very soon be in a digital-first world.

“Production-wise we think of digital first in the way we produce, not this bulletin-based appointment listening, we’re moving away from that, that’s a big change for us.”

Mark Cummins, Content Manager, Audio and Language Content SBS Radio, speaking at National Radio Conference 2016.

Mark Cummins: SBS Radio is moving away from bulletin-based appointment listening

Jeremy Millar, head of strategy and transformation at ABC Radio, said:”If news were invented tomorrow, the answer wouldn’t be to broadcast at 6pm, it would be designed a little differently. Having said that, news at the top of the hour isn’t going to go away.

“People were brought up that it’s in their DNA to know that but they’re also entitled to get news when they want it on the device they want it.”

3AW News director Gail Watson said the changes to radio news is pushing radio journalists further.

“It is about being out on the road and doing your usual reporting but also taking photos and putting that online and interacting with our programs. We’re asking our guys to do more and they’re stepping up and doing it,” she said.

However despite the extra demands placed on radio journalists in this way, Michelle Stephenson, Nova Entertainment national news director, argues the “sound” of news has not changed a lot.

“News will always be news and it will always have that sound. It will have an introduction, it will have a bit, there will be a specific sound to it. People like that, people don’t want news to change because it’s familiar,” she said.

For a commercial channel like Nova, Stephenson said the challenges lie in strict time limits, especially in the drive time slot.

Michelle Stephenson, National News Director Nova Entertainment, speaking at National Radio Conference 2016.

Michelle Stephenson: News is the stuff I like to call between credits

“News is the stuff I like to call between credits,” she quipped.

“Luckily Nova really believes in news and still thinks it is important but there is that constant battle, like in drive we have time limits because we have national shows and we’re given a minute-thirty where we have to fit in news so I have to be really smart on my editorial choices.”

However, Stephenson said Nova is committed to news, citing how the station worked during the Sydney Siege.

“What I love about radio news is the immediacy and that people really do rely on it. When we had the Sydney Siege, there was a moment I remember looking up when the flag went up and I knew something different was going on, I went straight to my programming director and he said, ‘right we’re cutting into programming’.

“We were on every 15 minutes, I was giving a news update, we pulled in all of our journalists and we went 24 hours. From a commercial perspective we went from doing one news bulletin on the top of the hour to it just being about news, that is indicative of how great radio news is.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.