November 26, 2015

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First Mediaworks

08/20/07 Community Leadership

Radio is a lifeline to community.

Are you taking a lead in your community? It can be done with any format, and even with automated or satellite programming. Our cities and towns are plagued with problems, some that may be specific to the listeners of your format. Can the leadership of your station or your talent reverse a negative trend? Absolutely. Can radio help people adapt to new challenges like record bankruptcies, mortgage failures, global warming? Yes. What if every morning show in America simply kept reminding its listeners to not let the water run while they brush their teeth? The impact could be huge.

As I summer in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, I have little access to radio stations due to the local terrain. I have a choice between an automated hit music station and an NPR station. Though Iím not a big NPR listener when Iím home in California, here at the lake the station is my lifeline to the community. (Yes, I do read the community paper, but I actually read it online because Iíd otherwise have to drive 15 minutes to buy it; weíre so far into the woods they donít deliver.)

Iím less interested in the news than I am in feeling connected, but the music station and its automation cannot touch the NPR station in terms of local information and events to attend with the family.

Radio stations have three choices: Be connected, pretend to be connected, or donít be connected at all. When we talk about radioís local strength, weíre not just referring to local news or traffic and weather info (which even the satellite broadcasters offer in the bigger areas). Weíre talking about being connected. Many stations ignore being local at all; a train could derail in the center of town and no one would ever know. Others pretend to be connected by giving the temperature in ďinsert local suburb here,Ē but the listeners know the difference. Then there are those radio stations that connect listeners to their community by reporting community news, talking about community affairs, being involved in community issues, and attending community events.

At Radio Inkís Hispanic Radio Conference in May, I learned that most Hispanic radio stations are superstars in terms of community leadership. Radio stations and their deejays play a critical role in helping immigrants assimilate into the culture, community, government, and other aspects of life that differ from their countries of origin. But radioís role of community leadership should extend beyond just touching listeners; radio managers should know every business owner in town. We can influence their decisions and their businesses with research, information, and by involving them with station events.

We must not forget the power of radio to take a leadership role in our communities. Sometimes we are so busy trying to make budgets, we forget that leadership and heavy community involvement built great radio stations, and can again. Your listeners and your advertisers will thank you and itís great for business.

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