Saying You’re Local and Being Local Are Two Different Things [audio]
by Tracy Johnson
Broadcasters are really resourceful. As natural advantages are compromised by new competition, we find new ways to claim relevance. For the last few years, the term “Live and Local” has been part of the mantra. But making the local claim and actually being local are two different things.
It doesn’t matter where your broadcast originates. Your studio could be on Main Street in your hometown or in Dubai. It’s all the same to the audience, except when they’re asked to come to the station in person to pick up prizes, which is one of the most annoying and outdated policies at many stations.
In fact, many stations that are technically “local” sound disconnected from their community. There’s nothing that reflects the local mood. There’s no content that could only be relevant here. And good luck figuring it out by visiting their website. Chances are it’s full of repurposed content widely available virtually everywhere else.
What Is Local?
So what is it to be local, and how can radio stations reflect their communities? And does it really matter?
There are dozens of ways to localize your station, including:
Features: Local features like Hometown Hero can show your heart and demonstrate that you care about the city.
Ize-ing Content: Inserting content additives to your station provides opportunities to reference local landmarks and celebrities. It’s simple to do, but it takes some time and focus.
But more than listing things you can do, it’s a mindset that should permeate the entire radio station.
Promoting that “we have local winners” really doesn’t move the needle, but challenging your staff to constantly reflect what’s happening in your town right now today can be transforming.
Amazing Local Content
That attitude is part of what caused Contemporary Christian station KSBJ/Houston to create a campaign around their traffic reporter!
Bill Ingram, affectionately known as Mr. Bill, has been the voice of traffic in morning and afternoon drive for about two decades. His down-home style and colorful methods of describing traffic is actually something listeners look forward to.
His reports are filled with references that demonstrate “We’re from here and we love it as much as you”.
So what does a creative programmer do to leverage Mr. Bill’s celebrity status?
They launched a regular feature several times a day called Welcome to Houston:
The campaign is simple. It is targeted to “visitors”, but the appeal is for locals more than newcomers. Residents who have lived in the city all their life don’t know the stories behind it many of Mr. Bill’s stories.
His pace is casual, natural and full of pride. His information is interesting and his storytelling skills are superb. It demonstrates the station’s brand values.
Benefits of Being Local
At the end of the day, local isn’t nearly as important as being good! But if you do it well, being local is a great tie-breaker that makes your station unique, special and endearing. Do it right and you’ll be an irreplaceable part of the community.
As you heard, KSBJ is doing it right. The Christian station is #1 in Houston among women 25-54, and regularly is in the Top 5 overall 6-plus. For a niche format!
Being local isn’t just saying you’re local. It’s demonstrating it and truly being local. All the time as part of your DNA.
Tracy Johnson specializes in radio talent coaching, radio consulting for programming and promotions and developing digital strategies for brands.
For more than 30 years, Johnson has been developing on-air superstars that attract fans, retain audiences and generate revenue.