Trumpet Hour airs today at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
EDMOND—Presenter Joel Hilliker sits in a conference room backed by a wall-sized world map. He glances down at his laptop and asks the four other writers what they think about the cover story. They go back and forth on the particulars, nuances and implications as if in a secret code. Only at the end of the discussion do I have a clue about what they’re talking about: How the United States is facilitating Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. As they discuss more than 20 stories in quick succession, each man seems to know the ins and outs of each one.
I am at the May 22 weekly strategy meeting at 8:30 a.m. for the new kpcg radio program: Trumpet Hour: Week in Review. Trumpet writers Jeremiah Jacques (Asia specialist), Robert Morley (U.S. and economics specialist) and Brent Nagtegaal (Middle East specialist) sit around the heavy wood conference table, scattered with notebooks, article printouts and a conference call speaker phone with Europe specialist Richard Palmer on the line, calling in from Edstone, England, at 2:30 p.m. his time. They meet for about 20 minutes and spend the next hour reviewing their stories to prepare for the 10 a.m. Trumpet Hour recording.
The 55-minute program begins with a voiceover intro, then Mr. Hilliker welcomes the audience and presents the cover story, “‘A New Beginning’ for Soon-to-Be Nuclearized Middle East,” by Trumpet contributor Aaron Hudson, from Australia. Mr. Hilliker introduces the story and plays soundbites from President Obama’s 2009 speech at Cairo University. He then asks the other writers what they think about Iran’s nuclear program and its connection with the president’s 2009 “New Beginning” speech.
Nagtegaal says he keeps pen and paper handy to jot down his thoughts on the article during the recording session, since Mr. Hilliker could ask for input at any point.
Each writer then delivers a quick rundown of the most important stories from his region. Each guest then picks the most important story of that week and explains its significance in world events.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hilliker interjects, asking for additional clarification for the listeners’ benefit. Nagtegaal said he has to “simplify, simplify, simplify” his analysis for radio far more than writing articles, since the listener only has one opportunity to understand what he is communicating.
The program ends with a “lightning round.” Mr. Hilliker calls on each writer to explain a secondary story from that week in less than two minutes. Through the different segments, the program is able to cover a wide breadth of world events, while talking about the most important stories in detail, Mr. Hilliker said.
The Wednesday Trumpet Hour program follows a different format with longer, deeper interviews with Trumpet writers about their articles. The May 27 program included conversations with Richard Palmer about “Enemies at the Back Door,” with Robert Morley about negative interest rates, and with Dennis Leap about “Churchill on Moses.” The writers don’t know what questions they will be asked. Jacques said this makes the interview more natural and spontaneous, like a regular conversation.
The program also includes questions from theTrumpet.com and social media and answers such as “Why hasn’t Iran stepped in to stop the Islamic State?” It finishes with Mr. Hilliker reading a human-interest article like “Give and Your Heart Will Follow.”
“[Trumpet Hour] gives us an opportunity to repackage the information that we are putting into the Trumpet newsmagazine and theTrumpet.com,” Mr. Hilliker said. He added that 85 percent of the work has already been put into producing print articles and that the staff adds about 15 percent more work to repackage the content for radio to get more mileage out of it. He said using radio as a new medium will open up a new audience.
“We’re positioning ourselves to be able to reach more people in different ways and to give them the information they seek in the form that they’re seeking it,” he said.
Morley said of the Trumpet Hour audience, “We’re trying to reach anybody out there who is looking for answers to the problems they see going on in the world.”
Mr. Hilliker said that hearing a discussion of world events on the radio “hits the brain differently” than reading the Trumpet Weekly does.
Mr. Hilliker recalled a February 27 kpcg content strategy meeting, when Pastor General Gerald Flurry said, “You can do a lot more with the human voice than with an article.”
Jacques said that writers are able to express more passion and emotion through their voices than through their writing.
“You can show people that you are excited about something or that you are sobered by it; you’re concerned about it; you’re angered by it,” he said, adding that the emotions of the announcer can influence the listeners’ own emotions.
Morley said the human voice allows him to use more vocal tools to convey emotion, such as pitch, volume and inflection. He said that with radio interviews, as opposed to a regular conversation, he has to speak to a large listening audience. Jacques said he noticed that interviews on National Public Radio generally cut personal conversational pleasantries such as “good question” and “I understand.” Nagtegaal said he tries to follow the advice of video production manager and former professional radio DJ Dwight Falk, who said to speak with more enthusiasm than usual.
“You really have to be amped-up,” Nagtegaal said. “You have to be on top of the microphone and projecting and enunciating and really being over the top with your delivery.”
Mr. Hilliker asked staff to give feedback on Trumpet Hour after its second program in a meeting on May 20, where Falk gave suggestions on improving delivery. The group also discussed the best length for the interview segments, how much to promote Trumpet articles for further analysis, the possibility of including a weekly “air check” evaluation and pros and cons of building programs around a theme. Mr. Hilliker said he has tried to implement suggestions and improvements with each program since the first one aired on May 15.
Mr. Hilliker said that in addition to the Trumpet writers, he plans to invite other guests on to the program. For his June 3 program, he interviewed Egyptian-American author Yahia Lababidi.
The radio program has not only benefited from content already produced for the Trumpet, it has added to that content. The news bureau now produces about 10 radio news updates a day that weren’t produced before kpcgstarted airing online and in the Edmond, Oklahoma, area to a potential audience of 60,000 people on May 5. The 6 p.m. audio updates are available every day on theTrumpet.com homepage, and some are converted into small articles. In addition, the Trumpet Daily Radio Program and Trumpet Hour are available on the front page, and interviews with writers will be embedded within the relevant articles.
Mr. Hilliker said that the interviews and the extra meetings for radio are improving the entire department’s effectiveness.
“I feel like there’s an electricity and there’s a buzz about it that is injecting life into the process of putting the Trumpet together,” he said.
He said that he believes the Trumpet website will be “pretty thoroughly transformed” by the content produced for radio.
Current Trumpet Hour Schedule (CDT)
Airs Wednesdays at 8:00 a.m.
Replays Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.; Thursday at 8:00 p.m.; Friday at 1:00 a.m.
Trumpet Hour: Week in Review
Airs Fridays at 4:00 p.m.
Replays Friday at 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.; Saturday at 4:00 a.m., 5:00 a.m., and 11:00 a.m.; Sunday at 5:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
(Check KPCG.fm for updates)