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TUNING IN

A blog dedicated to the world of broadcast and public relations

Sunday, August 9, 2009

More on the Consolidation of Radio

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The struggling economy continues to take its toll on all forms of media outlets, with radio bearing a healthy brunt.  Large ownership groups, such as Clear Channel, have laid off thousands of employees and sold off chunks of their holdings.  Other groups, such as Metro Networks/Westwood One, one of the nation’s largest radio networks, has been forced to consolidate its operation by shuttering some local news bureaus, in order to focus more on regional news coverage.

Even venerable outlets like Associated Press have been forced to alter the way they conduct interviews and dispense their news.  These moves have changed the landscape of radio and therefore, have changed the way that stories must be pitched to these outlets.

Although change is inevitable, there are some events that set about a more rapid evolution.  To address these developments, one must be willing to adapt along with them.  As large national networks streamline their operations, stories must be crafted to take advantage of this change.  For national networks, the best solution is to provide a strong, well-prepared national spokesperson – a person who is versed on local statistics and events, but also has the cache to attract interest on a national level.

Another approach is to offer not only the strong, national spokesperson, but also local spokespeople who can be pitched to individual stations in particular markets.  Stations of all sizes continue to look for ways to localize their stories as much as possible.  Using a combination of national and local spokespeople is the perfect way to capture the attention of reporters, up and down the spectrum, from the national outlet to the local station.

As the local bureaus of Metro Networks disappear, some of the most important emerging outlets for content dissemination are the statewide radio networks found in virtually every state across the country.  In some cases, these statewide networks are significantly larger than the departed Metro bureaus and are often associated with some of the biggest stations in the state.

For example, Texas Radio Network shares operations with the largest news-talk station in Dallas-Fort Worth, and the Georgia News Network works out of the same newsroom as the largest talk station in Atlanta.  Taking advantage of these relationships can only add to the reach of the story.

Regardless of consolidation, using radio provides a great opportunity to match your objectives with that of the reporter to form a successful campaign.  The national networks continue to play a significant role in radio and providing them with strong national spokespeople for relevant, timely issues is an easy model for success, with stories often reaching millions of listeners.  And as some networks shrink their operations, statewide networks and local stations will play a even more prominent role in distributing content to a large listening audience.

The best way to reach these outlets is to provide them with the same story, but presented through a local expert who can speak directly to the needs of the community in which they live or provide stations with local statistics that speak to their geographic area.

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