Last post, the Jointblog asked what was the #1 morning radio news/talk program in America. The answer was not a "local" station from just one market; it was the syndicated broadcast of National Public Radio's Morning Edition. Every week, 26 million listen to NPR, about 22 million of them listening to the morning show. That's huge reach. Labels: Radio
During Howard Stern's prime on traditional radio before moving to outer space/satellite, he was broadcast on 45 stations and attracted an estimated 23 million fans to his show every week at his peek.
If NPR or Stern broadcast either of their shows in just one market (say, New York City) instead of nationally-syndicating it, neither show would be better nor worse in terms of its content. But one thing is certain: both shows would have substantially smaller audiences.
Closing out their own syndicated radio show this morning, New York City-based Opie and Anthony slammed a Chicago Tribune article by media writer Phil Rosenthal, who says "Local airwaves are losing identity to syndication." And rightly so...for both Phil to comment but also for O&A to slam him for his viewpoint. What actually defines "local radio"? Is it entertainment enjoyed locally, regardless from where it is broadcast? Or is it only local if the content includes local reference points, such as memories of popular events and mentions of the current local news, weather and traffic?
Or can it be both?
Today, in this increasingly portable and digitized On Demand media world, "local" is whatever you have right in front of you in your control. Your iPod, PSP, DVD, radio, cellphone video, YouTube user-generated viral video...whatever it is, THAT is local. Local is not just about content, it is also about location...Your location in relation to the device connecting you to media.
Strong content is strong content...it's all we care about and all that matters. That's the bottom line....for both consumers and content distributers, local or not.
In reality, "local" means "customized" for today's media. Consumers make the choice what they consume. And they have an overwhelming amount of choice...consumed when they want it, where they want, how they want it.
In Rosenthal's article, he says "There was a time when piping in a drive-time show from New York was unthinkable in Chicago." Yes, that's true...when media was a push-system by the media owner/platform owners...not the pull-system from the consumers today. He continues to say local-based shows "provide something live you can't necessarily get off your iPod or from satellite pay radio." Yes, that's true. It's called different content.
But that doesn't necessarily mean it makes it more local. Or better. Or more successful.
Sure, shows broadcasting from a listener's (or viewer's) same city hold an initial advantage over a show broadcasting from somewhere else. They can be more flexible, more customizable for that's city's special flavor or personality. However, it can also be limited in its potential because it is more confined to that city's geography. National broadcasts create national perspectives and national conversations. They inform "local" listeners what others think around the country. And a nationally-broadcast show can apply its content development resources on a different economic scale. For example, the investment made hiring comic or content writers for just a local show may not get viewed as profitable as if those writers were used for a show broadcast across the country reaching millions of more consumers.
Opie and Anthony are right to slam Rosenthal. While his article accurately reflects a nostalgic sentiment, praising that local is best, that local is radio's strongest competitive advantage and that communities need that local voice...Rosenthal's definition of what is truly local needs to evolve. Yes, O&A only have a few million listening to them on their small but building multi-media network combining broadcasts over both CBS Radio airwaves (and some non-CBS stations) as well as their uncensored satellite show on XM Radio. But local is still local: a show broadcasting to one listener at a time, entertaining and informing them...and maybe getting a chuckle or two.
Local is right what is front of you and what you decide to turn on or off. Media outlets don't define local media, we all do, through the media content we want, regardless of where it is broadcast.
In Related O& A news: One way Opie and Anthony are getting local is their 1st comedy Travelling Virus tour, featuring many regular comedians that stop by to visit their show. The tour is already setting box office records. All.Access.com reports "New Jersey's PNC Bank Arts Center announced today that the O&A show scheduled later this month is officially the best selling comedy show in the 39 year history of the venue. Total sales for the event now stand at over 10,000 tickets, edging out a previous record set by cutting edge comedian Jay Leno."
Now that's getting local.
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Monday, August 14, 2006,