DoD

May 23, 2014

The mind behind the man behind AFN news

Tags:
George A. Smith
AFN Broadcast Center public affairs

Mike Roberts has worked as a newsman with affiliates of ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC. His print stories appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He now works at the AFN Broadcast Center in California working to give the American military stationed overseas a one-of-a-kind 24/7 service with AFN news.

With a relatively straight face and a moderately cocked eyebrow he describes the entertainment shows on American Forces Network (AFN) television as “the awkward gaps between news.”

You have to consider the source. Mike Roberts is the man who programs news on AFN television here at the AFN Broadcast Center on March Air Reserve Base, and he uses words like an artist uses paint.

Roberts scours ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, MSNBC and NBC News for programs to air on a 24/7 television service only seen by the American military communities overseas: AFN news. Networks provide news shows to the AFN Broadcast Center as a public service for the U.S. military.

Roberts is as methodical and systematic as his short-cropped hair, wire-rim glasses and “news guy” vocabulary indicates. When he chooses programs, he doesn’t guess or go with what he likes. He wades into the Nielsen ratings and other research to find out what Americans across the country are watching. “I replicate the Stateside viewing experience,” Roberts said. “I start out by programming the big three network newscasts: ABC, CBS and NBC. Twenty-one million Americans get their news from these newscasts. That’s more than double the number of Americans who get their news from the top 25 American newspapers.”

While the major American TV newscasts get more than seven times the viewers of cable news, 90 minutes daily from the “big three” isn’t enough to program a news channel. That’s why Roberts turns to CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC for additional programming. He airs the most popular shows from all three cable news networks and factors in the overall popularity of the network. Roberts calls his free-of-censorship-and-manipulation selection process “proportional inclusivity.” It gives the overseas American military a mix of top news sources on a single channel. You can’t get that anywhere else in the world.

Roberts feels the military audience consumes more news than average Americans, perhaps because they are far from home and what happens in the world may directly affect them. “The American military values situational awareness,” Roberts said. “We need to ensure our troops and their leaders get to know why they do what they do. News is an important part of command information. Global events play into the US national conversation.”

Roberts is relatively new to AFN, joining the broadcast center in 2011 after stints as a reporter, news anchor, managing editor and news director for affiliates of ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC. Roberts’ print work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. But he had never heard of AFN until one of his two daughters, married to an Air Force F16 pilot then serving in Spangdahlem, Germany, mentioned watching it. Tired of “creating, maintaining and growing audiences for advertisers,” Roberts decided that doing news with a more meaningful mission would be more satisfying.

“I find the job at AFN is enormously rewarding,” he said. “When it comes to the military audience, people get passionate about what they get to see and not see. You don’t see that level of audience involvement with other programs, except with sports.” AFN gets more questions about sports and news than any other programming.

When Roberts worked commercially, he was like a single ingredient in a bowl of “news soup” with others contributing equal parts to the recipe. Now, he’s the chef, choosing programs from all the major broadcast and cable networks. “Before I was used to one network, one story a day,” he said. “But news people are the biggest busybodies in the world. Here I can stick my nose into programs from all the networks. ”

Roberts’ curiosity and interest in the world led him to his avocation as a certified Master Wildlife Conservationist. His fascination with unusual species and vanishing habitats took him paddling in a dugout canoe up the Amazon, capturing venomous snakes in Central America and hiking the Inca trail.

That same intellectual curiosity led to him pursuing compelling stories in Vietnam, Thailand, Russia and Lithuania. Now, Mike Roberts channels those same qualities to bring the overseas American military community a unique service that blends top American programs into one channel: AFN news.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Russell S. McMillan

March dedicates base barbershop to longtime barber

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Russell S. McMillan Col. Russell A. Muncy, commander, 452nd Air Mobility Wing, March Air Reserve Base presents Nancy M. Alvarez with the new barbershop signage honoring her late husband and fo...
 
 

Preventing childhood obesity through awareness

Each September, during National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, we renew our efforts to reverse the continuing crisis of obesity among our nation’s youth. Every child, regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic background, or ability, should have equal access to healthy food options and physical activity opportunities. The epidemic of childhood obesity threatens the future of our young...
 
 

Crash memories still painful for B-17 navigator

(Sixth in an 11-part series that was first run in the Beacon in 2007) The sound of footsteps at night on the wooden walkway outside his hut filled 2nd Lt. Sidney Solomon with dread. It was always a GI coming to notify him and his B-17 Flying Fortress crewmates they would be part of a...
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash

State of Air Force Reserve discussed at AFA

U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash Chief of the Air Force Reserve Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, gives his insight on the reserve component during Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition, in Wash...
 
 
U.S. Navy photo by Greg Vojtko/Released

Riverside hosts inaugural 9/11 tribute concert

U.S. Navy photo by Greg Vojtko/Released Capt. Stephen Murray commanding officer at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Corona Division, right, and Col. Russell Muncy, commanding officer of 452nd Air Mobility Wing at March Air ...
 
 

U.S. Air Force to change instructions for oaths

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force has instructed force support offices across the service to allow both enlisted members and officers to omit the words “So help me God” from enlistment and officer appointment oaths if an Airman chooses. In response to concerns raised by Airmen, the Department of the Air Force requested an opinion...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin