When Is An Entertainment Story “News”?

 In Blog

As news/talk stations shift to include more lifestyle and celebrity news to the menu of topics, producers, program directors and talent are all asking: “When is an entertainment story considered news?”

The short answer: If everyone is talking about it, then it’s news, and you should be talking about it too. 

Celebrity news makes some serious-minded news/talk folk bristle at the thought of discussing Kim K.’s divorce, Demi and Ashton’s split, even Lindsay Lohan’s endless escapades. Yet, unless you are programming a hard news/political opinion show exclusively — and who is these days? — you are being left out of the conversation. These stories catch on like wildfire, and soon everyone is talking. It’s at this point that news/talk shows should join the conversation.

#1 rated Bill Carroll, host of KFI/LA’s midday show, says, “I try to not overthink this stuff. An old news guy told me once, ‘If it’s interesting, it’s news’. I live by that every day. The show should simply be a memorable and interesting conversation.”

How you approach these stories to fit your individual interests and personality will vary. The bottom line is: Your listeners want to hear your take on the subject. What they don’t want to hear is silence.

Take Demi/Ashton. One angle is that the May/December relationship never works. The landscape is littered with examples (Madonna, J-Lo, Courtney Cox). Delve deeper with a psychologist and sex therapist. Talk to women who have been dumped and to guys who will admit why they wouldn’t or didn’t stay with an older woman. Discuss what happens when there’s an imbalance of money, power and fame — “I’ve got my s&*% together now…I don’t need you anymore, Demi,” said Ashton after scoring Two and a Half Men.  And, with rumors of Demi’s bisexuality and the couple’s threesomes, reopen the discussion of open relationships and why they are doomed for failure.

On the Kim K divorce, there was so much to make fun of, but you could also take a lightning rod position: Maybe it is folks like Kim who are undermining traditional marriage, not the gays’ desire for equal rights. The angles are plentiful from the serious to the playful. And access to audio will make for even better segments.

How you tackle to the topic is up to you. Just tackle it!

Old world thinking left the domain of news/talk to upper demo men. Women and young adults prefer music. Nonsense. As I aim at KFI aim to attract more women and even younger listeners (shock!) to the brand and the show, we find ways to blend celeb news and lifestyle topics with a talk slant. Women and 18-34’s of today will not just raise your 12+; they are tomorrow’s 25-54.

News/Talk can take itself too seriously. In these tough times and endless negative news cycles, people are yearning for a respite. Give them some pop culture candy to ease the pain. And widen the demo net while you’re at it.

The litmus test: if it’s news and everyone is talking – it’s news/talk worthy.


– By Brian Holt, Executive Producer KFI/Los Angeles and RLC Talent Coach


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