I've said here in my blog that the new Executive Director at West Virginia Public Radio, Scott Finn, has a chance to go live local talk on a statewide basis.
I was partly wrong. Instead of promoting live local talk I should have been promoting what some call "hyper local" communications of which live local talk is but one example. Before all the small town newspapers died and all the radio stations became the personal iPods for programing people who don't even listen to the stations they program, people could get lots of hyper local news and information. But now most of the news and information options are national and world news. You can't get any local news and info on Sirius XM. The Big Cluster radio companies that control Charleston (Bristol Broadcasting, LM Communications, West Virginia Radio Corporation) mostly give you world and national news if any. One Big Cluster radio executive told me over coffee that the cluster he/she runs doesn't have news at all.
How does an information junkie in Dunbar get news about his city council? He's lucky if he gets a few column inches once a week in the Charleston Gazette or Daily Mail. How does a news and info junkie in St. Albans get information and news about neighborhood watch if he doesn't know about the St. Albans Neighborhood Watch email lists or text blasts or the Public Group For St. Albans Neighborhood Watch? Once in a while a TV crew shows up at a neighborhood watch meeting and there's 8 seconds of neighborhood watch coverage on the 11PM news.
I've started using Twitter to get as live and local as possible. I no longer follow people who tweet about politics or their new TV show, I only follow interesting local people who may tweet something hyper local, something the TV reporters won't cover. For instance, I follow the handful of local city council members and mayors and WV House and Senate members who tweet. I follow local people who are thought leaders or "tribal" leaders on subjects of interest. And, yes, I follow all the non-sports and non-weather journalists because sometimes they tweet stuff hours before it goes on the air or on their website.
I subscribe to several text messaging services where I can get local news before it's on TV or internet.
And there's the opportunity for an enterprising terrestrial radio executive like Dotsy Klei, Mike Robinson or Scott Finn. People who don't have internet or don't know how to get texts on their phones will listen to live, locally-originating call-in radio. And right now, none of the Big Clusters in Charleston offer it.
Back in the 90s I was walking down the street with a radio station GM in Lexington, KY, who predicted that "in ten years" there would be no humans in the radio studios of any Lexington. His prediction was overly pessimistic but he was a lost right, There are still humans in the studios but there is no live, local news on the air in many radio markets including ours.
One Big Box radio exec told me there is no budget to hire an on-air "personality". I told her/him that the lack of a paid talent provides the station a chance to put hyper-local volunteers on the air. You can't tell me there are people all over the Kanawha Valley who would gladly volunteer to be radio hosts on your live, local, call-in shows.
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