Local Voices Show Value During Holiday Season

As you know from reading this blog, Don and I like to write about radio whenever we can share perspective. We both started in radio and have a deep appreciation for the power of that medium. This week, we heard a new reminder about why radio needs to be filled with local personality in order to survive, despite some corporate ownerships’ efforts to strip their stations to the bone as glorified electronic jukeboxes.

This important example, ironically enough, comes from Clear Channel, the company that has slashed hundreds of local personality jobs, pioneered voicetracking (when a host records a show in advance, often from a distant market) and programs radio stations from out of town. We hope executives of that company pay attention to what happened in Detroit this week.

The hosts of Clear Channel’s WKQI-FM (“Channel 95-5”)’s Mojo In the Morning Show, are responding to listener letters to help needy families this holiday season. The station and its local personalities are showing up at houses with gifts, cash and whatever families need. Typically the domain of charities, this station is using its power and personality to touch lives and engage its audience. It is truly some of the best local radio I have heard this year. Check it out via the station’s Web site, including a TV news account of one such home appearance.

When it comes to radio, personality works. Local works. Live audience interaction works. Without all of that, who needs radio to listen to music? You can do that on an iPod. But, as wonderful as the iPod can be as a music delivery device, when was the last time an iPod helped with community service? Or provided you with content that you’re still thinking about two days later?