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How Radio Failed State College Part 2

In November 2011, while State College rioted as Joe Paterno was fired due to the Jerry Sandusky rape allegations State College radio was nowhere to be heard on the subject. Tonight, Sandusky’s allegations became convictions and yet again radio was nowhere to be seen. The following Tweets sum up how we found the State College radio stations on the internet as the verdict came in.

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/radioinsight/status/216355279326035971″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/radioinsight/status/216355863554834433″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/radioinsight/status/216357125247606785″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/radioinsight/status/216358909777158146″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/brittwhitmire/status/216359391534919681″]

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/radioinsight/status/216360279573938176″]

 

This should be a lesson for all radio stations. As Scott Sands stated, does your company or station have a plan to handle major news stories in your market outside of office hours? And why the hell not? It is embarrassing to those that serve their audience properly on a daily basis for any incident to soil the reputation of the industry as a whole, even as those that do become the exceptions as opposed to the norms.

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

11 Comments

  1. Profile photo of MattParker


    This is not the same as an overturned train with toxic chemicals or tornadoes on the way. This is not something people NEED to know right away (or else). And it is something for which people will turn to cable news if they feel the need for “wall to wall coverage.” Said wall to wall coverage is essentially repeating the headline (which is all the real information available), speculating and finding others (experts or regular folks) to speculate.

    We are talking about music stations and a syndicated talk station. And their audiences probably would rather hear the music or talk shows for which they tuned in rather than a local guy in the studio and somebody else on a cell phone from the court house talking to easy other endlessly. The local station provided the basic info. Anybody who wants to can go to cable TV or look online for more.

    For the record, 3WZ has been carrying reports from Sara Ganim, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the Penn State sex abuse scandal as it developed. In my book, that counts for more than taking a headline and beating it to death.


  2. At the same time, Matt, this was a big story and an opportunity for radio to reinforce its immediately and ability to have the pulse of the community.

    • Profile photo of MattParker


      For a radio station to be seen as having immediacy and the pulse of the community it needs a news department operating day in and day out, on big stories and small. It can’t happen once in a while.

      You use the word “reinforce” as though these stations have the qualities you describe and people just need an opportunity to recognize them. This is a role most radio stations gave up years ago. In fact, one of the stations mentioned in the original piece gets its local news from a TV station in the region.

      Speaking of TV, radio could claim “immediacy” when radio had mobility and TV did not. This isn’t 1962. Now TV can go live with sound and pictures using very portable equipment. Heck, I’ve got an app on my phone that can stream live video and audio. I’ve also got apps that give me the AP and Reuters wires. People don’t look to radio for the same things any more, in large part because radio abdicated that role long ago but partly because there are other, better options.

      Once upon a time, I dreamed of having enough money to buy my own radio stations and do all that immediacy and pulse of the community stuff as I wanted to do it and as I thought it should be done. Now, I know that would just be throwing away money on a useless hobby.

      • Profile photo of MattParker


        PS: The people who posted those original tweets also ignored the station in State College that does cover local news: WPSU, the public radio station in the market. Most places, public radio has the exclusive franchise on news.

        • Profile photo of Lance Venta


          The person who posted those tweets for the most part was me. And WPSU was one of the stations with no live coverage last night.


  3. immediacy, that it. Darned autocorrect.


  4. Down in Philadelphia, KYW-1060 (a 24/7 all-news station) had lots of live coverage, and down the dial, sister station WPHT-1210 (which I believe now carries local talk shows from 6 A.M. to 1 A.M. weekdays), had coverage, with the latter having a local talk host taking calls from listeners.

    I would think quite a few people in the State College area who had only radio probably tuned into either KYW and/or WPHT.

    And here in the Boston area, once the verdicts were announced, WBZ-1030 talk show host Dan Rea changed the focus of his show and discussed the verdict for the remaining two hours (10 P.M.-12 Midnight) of his show.

  5. Profile photo of MattParker


    I was just watching Blue Bloods from last night on my DVR and CBS3 cut in at 10:12pm for 10 full minutes of blather, rehash and BS from State College – beyond the actual new information – before going back to the program, which had been ruined completely for anybody who had wanted to watch it.
    These newsies have no regard for their audience. This sort of thing just makes them feel important and they get off on it. But nobody wants to see it.
    Remember the time CBS cut into the climax of a show at 10:55 to announce some European leader had died (after an illness)? They ruined the show because they couldn’t wait five minutes for the 11pm news.
    No wonder people hate the news media.


  6. KYW and WPHT cannot be heard in State College, day or night. WPHT was able to report the verdict only because the Phillies game was rained out.


    • KYW can’t really be heard in State College during the daytime, but they do have a so-so night signal. As for WPHT, no day signal but after dark again easy to hear.


  7. In a community like State College radio HAS to jump in on a story that everyone is talking about and this clearly qualifies. The question the stations in State College (and many other spots) have to ask is – are we in this to be broadcasters that serve and entertain the community where we do business or are we just here to do business, run commercials and hit the bottom line? While hitting the bottom line IS important if you don’t balance it with also producing a product that serves it’s community and customers than you will lose your advantage and sooner or later your bottom line profits. How much would it have taken to have someone part time assigned to come in and ‘broadcast the news as it hit”? Not that much – it doesn’t take a full news room to cover this story.

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