I rest my case... More on Why Local Newscasts are Getting Easier to Ignore
Just last week I wrote about bland on-air personalities being one of the reasons why local newscasts are getting easier to ignore. Agreed, there are other factors, of course. But, in my mind, we need more characters in local newscasts. They are all gone... or at least most of them.
On the heels of my rant, last week results of a new Harris Poll that identifies America's Favorite Television Personalities was released. In it, author Regina A. Corso says, "One of the joys of watching television is seeing characters and over-sized personalities." After more than 30 years researching local newscasts, I am convinced viewers love bigger than life personalities on TV. Corso makes that notion the centerpiece of her new study.
So, why do we, in local television, keep putting on safe, look-alike, sound-alike on-air people? The smart-aleck answer is that we have a death wish! The truth is that the real-decision makers in local television are not big risk takers. I urge clients all the time to hire people who don't look and sound like everyone else on TV... and, who have something to say about the world around them.
The people who topped the new Harris Poll:
1. Oprah Winfrey
2. Glenn Beck
3. Jay Leno
4. Ellen DeGeneres
5. Hugh Laurie
OK, I know they are not "news" people, but all of them (and most on down the list) look and sound very different than everyone else on TV. And they all clearly have something to say about the world around them. You may not always, or ever, agree with them, but they are opinionated.
What is the lesson for local TV? I made the case in my blog last week. Harris seems to support the premise. Now, get out there and hire someone unique for your next key on-air opening. Make sure they also have something to say about your community and the world around them.
If we don't do it as an industry, we're going to continue down a road that simply "makes local newscasts to easy to ignore."
- Bruce Northcott