“Live and Local” Radio Chases More Listeners to the Web

I tuned in to a local FM music station on my way home from the Sox game this afternoon. I took a chance on the station because it’s one of the only few in Chicago that still has live and local disc jockeys on the weekend.

I can’t impress enough what a big deal this is–most music stations are running pre-recorded breaks that are free from any sort of time-stamped content. For instance, a prerecorded break might offer a non-committal, “hope your weekend is awesome so far,” while a live break might say, “the sun finally came out, and it’s currently 80 degrees by the lake.” Being live gives a station a major advantage over its competition: when new information comes in, the station can totally own it by communicating the details in a timely fashion. This isn’t “master class” stuff I’m talking about; it’s Broadcasting 101.

After playing a pair of downtempo songs that I’ve heard a million times before, the jock on the station came on and back-announced the title and artist for both: Lou Reed “Satellite of Love” and “Bad” by U2.  Perhaps the Lou Reed song isn’t universally known, but there’s never a need to backsell anything by U2, let alone a song that was released almost 30 years ago. We’re all completely caught up with the U2 catalog at this point, even the stuff on Pop.

Coming out of that backsell, the jock announced that the Bears/Lions game had just ended. He went on to say that he wasn’t going to give the results because he didn’t want to spoil it for anyone. He then proudly said that he’s been handling sports scores that way all year.

Seriously? If you’re not going to tell me who won the just-ended Bears game, why should I even bother to listen to local radio? You can take the time to tell me the title of a 30 year-old, fan-favorite U2 single that even my mother knows the name of, but you refuse to tell me the final score of the Bears game?  Since the station turned me away, I turned the radio off and asked Siri on my iPhone for the game results. She didn’t leave me hanging, bless her synthetic heart. Tough loss, Bears.

The Bears game isn’t the shrouded-in-secrecy Breaking Bad finale; it’s local and cultural news. If a live and local station isn’t going to share that basic desired information with me, I can think of plenty of other ways to get the info, all of which are internet (not radio)-based.

Maybe a prerecorded break would have been better. I certainly wouldn’t have felt as irritated by “Hey, big game for the Bears today” as I was, “The Bears played today–it’s totally on you to figure out what happened.”


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