WWJ Debuts New Narration for Tail Light Tales

In a major metropolitan area that has long experienced mass transit that is lacking, traffic reports have traditionally been vital in providing lone or carpooling commuters with the latest road conditions and construction delays. Changing times and technologies, however, are in turn changing the way we look at the roadways and consume information on them.

When I was reporting traffic for WWJ Newsradio 950, WXYT-AM and others in the early to mid-90s via a former career far-far away, there was no GPS, Google Maps or Waze. We were afforded about a minute (every 10 minutes on the 8s) to roll through accident and major slowdowns, providing freeway, direction, cross-streets and backups in rapid-fire succession. We also utilized airborne reports with the ‘eye in the sky’ reporter confirming initial information called in from tipsters and/or heard via police scanners.

So how do you go about combatting the proliferation of traffic information apps and smartphone resources? You ramp up resources and, importantly, the ‘human touch’ in reporting. Leading the charge is CBS Radio, which has brought all traffic resources in-house, added new personnel and evolved its approach. Former WJR news anchor/reporter Lloyd Jackson (a former colleague in my traffic days) has been brought on to oversee Traffic 2.0 with positive early returns.

Hearing is believing. Just listen to WWJ in the morning where another former WJR reporter and traffic legend, Dennis Neubacher, now holds court. His conversationalist style is the perfect foil to a faceless app. His informed knowledge of the roadways, culled from 30 years reporting on the roads from the air and on land, provides invaluable insight on locational landmarks and otherwise complicated alternate routes. Reports are not rushed but timed well – providing the anchor adequate time to communicate in a fashion best appreciated by the listener.

As such, it is a new, evolved approach that stands out. As with a mountain peak noticed less and less over time by those that live around it everyday, change can be a good thing; encouraging a new look and listen – every 10 minutes on the 8s – and a quality alternative for those both technology and road weary.