Audiences love both novelty and familiarity. They want consistency, but also look forward to change.
Here’s how to make these opposites work.
The consistency/familiarity are the format of the show. Have a recognizable format. Here’s mine:
One minute bars/ten second countdown (not part of the show/professional requirement)
Pledge of Allegiance or Patriotic Moment
The audience knows they will get a consistent product each day. They know when to watch (for sports, Patriotic Moment, credits) and when they can tune out (I hope not).
The variables include:
Show open – each week I change out an anchor. We shoot the new anchor and include them AND the entire crew in the show opening.
Each day we are required to either have the student body pledge the flag OR recognize a historical fact or current event that contributes to student knowledge/understanding of our country.
Pledge of Allegiance – run at least once a week. We broke the Pledge down in to separate phrases and had different students/groups of students each recite a phrase. I plan to keep changing out parts of the Pledge every month to include new students.
Patriotic Moment – produced by students. Students are required to use history.com to find an interesting fact each day and then they must research it, write a short script, find (copyright free/open source) visuals and then produce a :30-1:00 narrated segment.
Sports – anchors read script while scrolling credits roll with duplicate information (sport/date/time/opponent).
Credits – this is where I hook my audience. We change this daily and tease it at the top of each day’s show. My goal is that every student on campus can say at least once a week, “I was in the credits” or “I know someone who was in the credits.” Credits run :30-1:00 and have included animations by my students, an English field trip to “West Side Story,” stills of the cross country team, video of finals in a French class (focus was on food of France and food was served), a male beauty pageant.
Staff tells me that students look forward to the daily announcements now and still (relatively) quietly while they are on.
So when you get your show up and running…remember to break it into manageable segments and remember also that your audience wants to be included. Personally I feel that one reason the news media may be in trouble today (and this is only one of the reasons) is that they have disconnected with their audience. Regional and national news do not serve local audiences…and unless the regional or national news impacts a local audience, they will tune out.