Don’t Slacken Pace During Show-to-Show Transitions

By Graeme Newell 

When going directly from one news show to another, make sure you keep the pace rolling with no break in the intensity. Many times, this is the place we transition from one anchor team to another. Typically, we will toss to the newsroom for a “preview” of what’s coming up in the next show.

This is where most anchors make a critical mistake–spending too much time greeting each other. Hellos, goodbyes and how-ya-doings abound. The pace of the newscast makes a palpable downshift while anchors discuss everything from the weather to vacation plans. The precious few minutes when a show is ending, and another is beginning, are big tune-out points. You want to avoid any lessening of the pace. Give no clues your show is coming to a close. Folksy anchor hand-offs are notorious for killing any sense of excitement or immediacy.

Often times the anchors will “tease their teases.” “Now here’s Bob Newshound with a look at what’s coming up at five.” Who wants to stick around for a promo? Instead, you should be teasing the specific contents of the best story, not “what’s coming up at six.” For example, “Bob is in the newsroom to tell us how police used artichoke dip to catch the robber.”

During these show-to-show transitions, do not mention the specific time of the upcoming newscast. Avoid, “a look at what’s coming up at six.” This only accentuates that one half-hour of news is over and another is beginning. Instead, all stories should be referred to as “next.” In Las Vegas, the casinos have carefully removed all time references from the gambling floor. The goal is to remove all clues there is a world outside the casino. They want your total focus on gambling, nothing else. We want the same thing with news programs.

Viewers are not tuning in to learn the time. They’re tuning in for great stories. Unnecessary time references serve as a reminder that viewers may need to leave. Telling viewers “it’s time for the 6 o’clock news,” brings them back into their regimented daily schedule. Most viewers know they should be doing something more productive than watching TV, like getting dinner on the table. In the TV news world, we want viewer so enthralled by the coverage that dinner is late, they get out the door late in the morning, and they stay up too late at night.

The soon-to-be-arriving anchor should have some solid content to convey in the first sentence of the show-to-show promo. There should be some real meat here. After conveying this pithy fact, he can then easily transition into a tease of the more specific points in the coming newscast. A great show-to-show handoff will build the momentum, creating anticipation for interesting video, sound and information in the minutes to come. Long anchor greetings and goodbyes slow down the newscast at the very point when viewers have a natural tendency to wander.

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602commu