In the never-ending dialogue about the perfect formula for winning radio, a discussion on the value of Live & Local is always looming. It ranks just behind, “How much should we talk?” and “Where should we schedule stop sets“? Debates rage about the value of being local.

Local has nothing to do with geography. It has everything to do with relating to an audience that lives their life in the same place as you.

This is particularly important in times of emergencies and tragedies. But aside from unusual events, how important is it? Some managers pay air staff and brag about being local. Some stations even run promos about being “from here”. Other managers import voice-tracked personalities and brag that they sound better. Some stations promote local contest winners, while others offer bigger prizes in national group contests.

Here’s the thing: Stations that have to run promos to convince listeners they are live and local almost never sound like it. At least, not enough to matter. And stations that really do have roots in the community don’t need promos to prove it. They demonstrate it.

Live & Local or Good & Not?

Who’s right? Who’s wrong? What works? What doesn’t? Let’s ask a supreme authority on such matters. The audience. Do listeners care if radio stations talk about local events? Do they want to know about a Bridal Fair at the Convention Center? Probably not. Building a break around the community calendar doesn’t make a station relevant. Or relatable. And it may be boring.

Local is good. But local is not enough to overcome weak content. Entertaining is more important.

Here’s some perspective. I call it the Hierarchy of Ultimate Awesomeness.

  • Local is a nice attribute. I’m all for shows being the voice of their community.
  • Adding entertaining is better. Entertaining beats local every time.
  • But entertaining plus local wins.
  • Add reliability to the mix. Connecting on a personal level is a tremendous advantage.
  • But the biggest factor: Funny is king.

Make them laugh and they will love you. Connect personality and they get to know you. Entertain and they like you. Be local and they feel a sense of pride. Local isn’t the most important thing, but can be an advantage.

3 Ways to Get An Advantage By Being Local

Challenge the on-air and promotion teams to constantly reflect what is happening right here, right now – today. Start the process by collecting references as a resource for talent. Details are found here.

Then work on three ways to gain an advantage:

Features: Regular segments like Hometown Heroes show heart and demonstrate pride by focusing on difference-makers in the community. This is a strong segment that acts as a content container for telling stories. Just be sure it doesn’t turn into a PSA for charities.

Ize-ing Content: Local-izing personality breaks is one of the four IZES of personality radio. Nearly every break can reference landmarks, events, and celebrities. You don’t have to build a full segment around it. Just add it to existing content.

Promotion: Look for ways to reflect the community in promotion and positioning. Plant your flag that demonstrates the station is “from here”. This can be more valuable than listing things the station does because it comes from a deep connection that permeates the entire brand.


Broadcasters are resourceful folks. As natural advantages are compromised by new competition, we find new ways to claim relevance. That’s why “Live and Local” has become a mantra.

Try to excel in all four aspects of the Hierarchy of Awesomeness. Local can be an advantage. If shows are equally interesting, relatable, and funny, the neighborhood show wins.


It’s Time To Get Local Seminar

How to Get More Local

6 Ways to Determine Talk Break Length

Funny is the Most Important Trait

How To Sound Local in Group Contests

Great Local Feature: Hometown Heroes

How To Localize Your Radio Station

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