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The myth of “local”

“Even in a world of iPods, satellite radio, BlackBerries and cell phones. There is simply no substitute for the immediacy of local radio. Localism is our franchise and ours alone” Eddie Fritts – NAB 2005

This is not correct.

BlackBerries are personal communications tools. “Personal” is much more local than “local.” And they are at least as “immediate” as radio.

iPods are personal music devices. YOUR music means it’s more local than “local.”

While satellite radio may not be located around the corner, it plays the same music and then some as your local stations do. What is the advantage of “local” when your music is redundant to what’s available on the bird?

If you’re playing music or syndicating talent or voice-tracking, then what do we mean by “local,” anyway. I don’t know what Mr. Fritts means when he refers to the power of radio’s “local franchise” unless he’s talking about the coordinates of the station’s sales office. Unless, of course, Eddie’s referring to the role of radio in a crisis, but that’s hardly the day-to-day benefit of the average radio station.

Ask listeners – I dare you – about how important “local” is in spectrum of their needs when choosing between media. I submit that there’s a difference between the power of “local” and the power of “habit.”

And if you mistake one for the other, you’ll be blind-sided when habit erodes and you discover that “local” was simply a mirage.

Does it disturb you that the folks at the top of the NAB don’t understand the fundamentals of why consumers listen to the radio?

It should.

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