The Answers May Surprise You

By Jon Holiday ~ Managing Partner Radio Consulting Services

The digital era is making its mark on local news. Nearly as many Americans today say they prefer to get their local news online as say they prefer to do so through television, according to a Pew Research Center survey of 34,897 U.S. adults conducted on the Center’s American Trends Panel and Ipsos’s KnowledgePanel.

The 41% of Americans who say they prefer getting their local news via TV and the 37% who prefer it online far outpace those who preferred a printed newspaper or the radio (13% and 8%, respectively).

For local news, Americans embrace digital but still want strong community connection. This is where local radio comes in. 71% of U.S. adults think their local news media are doing well financially; 14% have directly paid a local news source.

No, I’m not suggesting that you drop local news on your radio stations. Not at all. Local news makes sense for some, but not all FM music stations. But, run the appropriate style and length newscasts for the station’s audience not just one size fits all. You should also have local, national, and international news available on your websites and apps as well as via email sign-up and news alerts sent from your apps.

I’m always sad to hear from broadcasters who still believe that running network news on an FM music station is relevant. That’s “old radio” thinking that dates back more than 60 years. Who’s waiting around for a network newscast? Retired people? Anyone can get national, world and even local news in seconds on their devices. It’s time to get into the 21st century and all that has changed in the media landscape regardless of market size.

If your FM music stations are running news, just know that network news is a tune-out for listeners. It’s like throwing a grenade into your quarter hour listening. This is not just my opinion. Ratings data has shown that listeners tune-out when the news comes on our if they happen to tune-in in the middle of it.

I’ve heard all sorts of justifications over the years:

“It’s just one minute” – It only takes a second to tune-out.

“Our listeners love it” – Really? Does old Gus at the local store tell you that?

“I like running network news” – That’s great, your listeners don’t!

“We’ve always run it” – Times and tastes change, not to mention technology.

Unless it’s a News Talk station, network news is a TSL killer. That’s the one format that makes sense for network news. None other. Network news may mean something to radio people because they’ve always run it. To today’s listener not so much.

As much as radio people may not want to hear this, most people get their news from television and the internet, not radio. Time to rethink this.

About Radio Consulting Services

For nearly a decade, Radio Consulting Services has provided programming, music, marketing and promotional direction to stations all over the United Stations and Canada.

Radio Consulting Services is a multi-format consulting and programming services company advising stations in various formats on growing audience.

For more information on how Radio Consulting Services can help your company gain more listeners, achieve higher ratings and grow revenue, contact us.