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TV is getting more local, what about Radio?

Reacting to NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker’s comments about perhaps scaling back the network’s primetime programming duties, NBC affiliates seem receptive to filling the void with local content.  Speaking at the UBS Global Media Summit in New York Monday, Zucker suggested several ways to overhaul the network model, including fewer hours—and maybe even fewer nights—of NBC programming. Several affiliates welcome the possibility, and said Saturday night seems like a logical place to give local content a shot. NBC affiliates board chairman Michael Fiorile was pleased to hear Zucker raise the possibility. “The affiliates asked NBC to do this last summer,” said Fiorile, who seemed somewhat surprised that Zucker had not brought it up sooner.  Affiliates stressed that producing local programming isn’t cheap, but it is a differentiator in the vast landscape of viewing options. “Our niche these days is localism,” says WSAZ Charleston-Huntington (WV) General Manager Don Ray. “With all the options on the dial—and with those options growing all the time—the opportunity to do more localism [is a positive thing].”

Local programming as a "differentiator."

Something radio broadcasters should keep in mind.

Hard to apply to stations that play the latest hits, naturally.  But it serves as a reminder that every radio station's market – even in this Internet-enabled age – is primarily its local community, the tastes of that community, and the advertisers of that community.

While it is inevitable that programming and on-air gigs by the truckload will vanish within the next few months, one of radio's greatest challenges will be to remain differentiated in a way that's meaningful to the communities which our stations are licensed to serve.

We can add value to the lives of our audience or simply return dollars to the bottom line.  To be profitable but irrelevant would be a crime and a one-way trip to long-term oblivion.

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