Own Breaking News


Grandma Lois is a HUGE NFL fan.

Recently I was listening to a major-market sports station as news broke regarding a local team that was VERY important to their audience. The hosts hit the news for 10-15 minutes then went back to their show plan. Because of this, they missed a massive opportunity to deliver value to NEW audience AND broke a promise to deliver value to their regular listeners.  But the worst part…

…the station across the street went for two solid hours on the breaking news story. They delivered on the promise of value, and in all likelihood, stole audience from the market leader.

In terms of delivering value, the competition won today.

Think about breaking news as one of the best promotions your station could ever create. It’s an incredible opportunity for you to grab that new audience and to then convert them into fans of your show or station.


Just for the fun of it when I was a PD, and because I’m one of those people, I compared our regular share numbers against those when we sent breaking news text alerts and I learned a lot about how listeners react during breaking sports news.  On average, under PPM’s crappy system, our share increased by at least 10% for up to an hour.

NOTE: I call PPM “crappy” because the sample size is so small. Candidly, I think 10% is a small number.

When REALLY BIG news broke, cume and share went through the roof, and listening lasted longer.


When news breaks, I found getting big name guests on to share their insight into the story really worked. In terms of executing the interview, we then cut the audio up, replayed it while other guests are on, got their reaction, created rejoins and audio montages, etc. Talk about building momentum upon itself, and again, delivering value to the audience.

I also felt it was fine to open phone lines.  Let the peeps have their say, as long as you don’t let bad callers take over the show.  Consider their calls a stepping stone for your show to react to all the different angles of the breaking news story.

Another thought: have a breaking news promo donut ready to go, and make sure it delivers both the breaking news, and the great insight from your hosts and guests, as a way to make sure the audience knows you’ll deliver value to them when it matters.


Here’s another way to look at the importance of delivering great content when news breaks. Take a look below at what happens when news breaks. Over 50,000 more views for the “Gunshots fired” story below as compared to the 2nd most popular story on the government shutdown.  This means that breaking news led to a number of casual CBS News users sampling their product.

What an incredible opportunity.

What does it mean for sports talk radio?

When sports news breaks in your community, people will flock to you in hopes of hearing insight regarding this big story. This is your opportunity to convert some casual listeners into full-on HUGE fans of your show, so when news breaks, own it.

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