Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Local News is Not the Future of Public Radio

On one hand, public radio stations are being told that if they don't respond to digital threats quickly and effectively that they will suffer the same fate as local newspapers.  On the other hand, they are being told that local news is their future. In other words, the future of public radio hinges on content that is no longer commercially viable.  It's like the 70s and 80s all over again. 

Funny how that worked out.  The dead commercial radio formats curated on public radio didn't fuel the industry's growth.  Public radio's growth was driven by inventing something new... news for intellectually curious people who view themselves as citizens of the world and entertainment programs with a complementary appeal. 

Public came to public radio because it was't local.  That's a big part of the appeal.

Local presence is important.  Local news that lives up to the NPR standard is too.  That will make a station locally relevant.

But the future of public radio stations remains doing what they do best... providing a window to the world to people who think beyond their personal geographies.  Anything less will send those listeners somewhere else.

Read more at as part of our Best the Best Button series.


Blogger Kim Grehn said...

I agree. Local for the sake of being local goes against the grain. Public radio listeners come to us for the larger picture. They want us to put our stories in a larger context.

Filling up newscast with murders, fires and town council meetings is not why listeners seek us out. disappoint them, and they will go somewhere else.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

Is maybe the definition of "NEWS" an issue? I now finally live in listening area of VPR - I am in Quebec - I listen because I get the national and global outlook too. I have NO interest in fires, ambulance chasing etc which is the traditional domain of the local commercial station.

But I wonder... What if VPR aggregated what was really going on locally from its members? For instance - local sport and arts - not by a Journalist = but from the locals. This way not a game played would be missed. As someone who finds sport dull, I need not look at any of this but for those that do - heaven!

Make the local connections in many fields. With these made, like at a good diner, then the community can trust each other enough to use the station as a facilitator for working on larger community issues - as KETC has done with Mortgage Crisis and now School.

For this I think is the opportunity. For stations to use their trust and their connections to empower the community to return to the old American way of taking care of local business. This way the terrible wound of the Left/Right in politics might be healed and things can get done - locally.

Such as set up a local internet outside of the control of the IP's - get behind local food - connect kids to people who can help them learn - look after the elderly - get behind local power etc

Then the station stands for the community and will have value

7:57 AM  

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