December 1, 2015

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First Mediaworks

11/13/00 Mirror, Mirror On The Radio
KGO San Francisco has found its way as one of the first Radio stations on my set of AM buttons. Soon after moving here, I did not take long to discover that KGO was one of the stations most tuned into my needs as a Radio listener. Its entry point into my head was as the traffic station. KGOís traffic reporting is world-class, swift and succinct with reporters in every corner of the Bay Area. Whenever it looks as though traffic is going to be an issue ó and itís always an issue ó I immediately flip to KGO. Though other stations report traffic, none has convinced me that theirs is better.
Traffic is the heroin that got me hooked on KGO. The more I tuned in for traffic, the more I found KGO meeting many of my other needs as well. And it wasnít long before I found myself listening to KGO more than any other station while in my car. KGO is among the best at reflecting the community. Perhaps thatís why KGO has been No. 1 in 89 consecutive Arbitron books. And I suppose it is one of the reasons Jack Swanson of KGO is being honored as Best Program Director in America in this issue of Radio Ink, as voted on by his peers.
Great Radio stations (the result of great programmers) are all about reflecting the community. When I was a program director, I referred to myself as the Program Reflector. If you can mirror the community, the community will listen to you.
As I travel with Radio in hand, I can usually tell, within minutes, what station "owns" the market in any city. When I pull out my handy-dandy Arbitron, it usually supports my guess. Stations that are mirrors ó no matter what format ó stand above all others. Sadly, some cities seem to lack a mirror station.
In this age of Napster and the mistaken belief that such technologies will replace Radio, there is a flawed notion that people listen to the Radio for music alone. Even the most intensive music stations are not just about the music. Radio listening is about a sense of connection to the marketplace or to the environment surrounding the music. Radioís strength is about building reliability for listeners and giving them a feeling that, if they donít listen, they might miss something. Community can easily be about a group for which listeners feel an affinity; it does not have to be about a local town or geographical area. Nonetheless, great Radio stations are about a sense of belonging.
Congratulations to Jack Swanson and KGO for showing us how itís done. We all could learn from them some great lessons on mirroring our respective communities.

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