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Sounds Good!
Jon Beaupré is a voice and performance consultant for radio and television performers. Under the name Broadcast Voice, he provides private training and workshops for reporters, anchors, sports and weather casters, and others working in electronic and broadcast media. He teaches in the Broadcast Communications program at California State University at Los Angeles, and conducts workshops and seminars with the Associated Press Radio and Television Association. He has been a fixture on the convention circuit, teaching workshops at a wide range of specialty journalism and broadcast conventions and stations on both coasts of the U.S.

Anchors A-Way!

I want to spend a couple of weeks talking about anchoring and what that function entails. First, if you have gone into the news business specifically to be an anchor, probably what follows will be disappointing to you. There are precious, precious few who will make the cut, and while this has absolutely nothing to do with your value as a human being or as a journalist, it can be disappointing to face that reality. Assume that you will never anchor on a major news cast in a top 20 market. I will, of course, be delighted to be proven wrong, but start from that assumption.

In addition to all the other technical and performance skills we’ve covered over the course of the past half year, there are a number of additional “skill-sets” you will need to develop to be a good anchor. Note that I am not saying that having these skill sets will guarantee you a position as an anchor, nor even necessarily improve your odds of getting that gig, but clearly, if you don’t have some of these skills, you won’t even be considered for the position.

One reality, outside the realm of what I coach and teach, is that many news directors want a certain physical type. I hate this, since many very talented reporters and on-camera talent are so skilled as journalists and story tellers that they really ought to be anchoring, but that is the reality.

Often news directors will say “you need work on your voice” or “you need to improve your story telling skills” or “your writing isn’t up to snuff...” - all of which may be true and yet miss the point completely. No news director is going to look you in the eye and say “the reason I’m not hiring you is because I don’t really like you...” It’s rude and it’s hard to justify in a professional situation. It is much more acceptable to say that you need work on your voice, performance skills, and writing - which again may or may not be true - but which hides the real reason you didn’t get the gig: he/she didn’t like you, and there is no amount of voice coaching, performance training or writing skills that can bridge that gap.

Better that you should simply develop the skills over time under any circumstance, so that when you are called to fill in as an anchor, the transition will be smooth and easy. The skills required to anchor can only help your reporting and performance abilities anyway.

Finally, before we get into the technical aspects of anchoring, if you look to this position in any way to compliment your sense of self esteem, rethink the proposition. Busy, hard working news departments not only don’t want ego driven anchors, they don’t have time for them, and frankly, they don’t need to hire them. Of course, there are those anchors who for a variety of reasons have taken on personalities that are larger than life - and frankly insufferable, but by and large, my experience has been that the majority of experienced anchors exhibit not only superb journalistic judgement, great comfort and skill before a camera or microphone, and the ability to change course on a dime, they also exhibit the kind of leadership and integrity that makes them a true example for their newsroom. My experiences working with anchors in both radio and television has led me to believe that as a sweeping generality, as a group, they are willing to work with and advise just about anyone in their news room. Their position of privilege comes with certain leadership responsibilities.

We’ll go more in depth in future installments.
Until then, keep breathing!