WRAL Raleigh, N.C., wants viewers to talk back to it and has launched new technology that lets viewers record what they think on a variety of topics and share those thoughts that end up in WRAL newscasts.
How many times have you wished you could talk back to your TV while watching the news? Give your opinion on an issue being covered? Weigh in with your thoughts and actually have someone not only listen, but record what you say and use it in the news?
WRAL, Capitol Broadcasting’s NBC affiliate in Raleigh, N.C., wants viewers to talk back to it, and has launched new technology that lets viewers record what they think on a variety of topics, which the station then uses within news coverage.
WRAL’s Your Voice allows viewers from anywhere in the Raleigh market to be seen and heard in the news, reaching out to the farthest points of its DMA.
Joel Davis, WRAL’s GM, says the station sees Your Voice as a way to “get diverse opinions in the newscast and in our digital platforms more easily without having to go to the outlying counties every day. And what we have found is there are some topics that have generated huge response.”
Aysu Basaran, WRAL’s assistant news director, says the station has more than 20 different counties in its viewing area, and this was a way to provide those in outlying counties a chance to be heard.
“You have truly got a geographic representation of the viewing area and hearing from a diverse bunch of voices,” Davis says.
Davis says marketing Your Voice is limited to the station’s newscasts and social media, which directs people to engage on the topic by going to the station’s Your Voice page on their website.
WRAL is the first TV station to use the software from TalkBackTime, (WRAL brands its version as Your Voice). The software allows WRAL to create online survey questions where viewers can respond with a recorded video up to 30 seconds long.
(On Feb. 9, Your Voice posed the question: Do you think former President Donald Trump should be banned from holding public office in the future?)
Here are two viewer responses:
Allan Horlick, the managing partner and co-founder of TalkBackTime, says WRAL was hand-picked “because they love being pioneers. They have a long tradition of liking to be first.”
Horlick says “making the voice of the people inclusive in your newscast” gives viewers a sense of what the community is saying.
Davis says WRAL got Your Voice up and running in January, but the station has “found there are some topics that have generated huge response. We had one last week that generated 600 responses.”
The topic that generated the most responses was whether the North Carolina Republican party should censure Sen. Richard Burr for voting to convict former President Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial.
Basaran says the station will usually solicit responses in the noon newscast by telling viewers to answer the survey question and then ask them to record their message for the story WRAL will have in a later newscast.
The finished story with viewer videos could end up in any of the station’s later newscasts that day, says Basaran.
Basaran says the station is just starting to ramp up its use of Your Voice and so far it’s using it about two or three times a week.
“We are still trying to find those engaging topics where we are going to get more responses,” Basaran says.
Davis says, “Where we really saw the value is actually hearing from people, to have that representation.”
“The concern was that to be able to represent the whole audience, we needed a tool to easily gather their thoughts on certain subjects. It’s a pretty simple product, but one that is very fitting for the times we live in, when you need to make sure that all the voices are heard.”
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