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How Radio Failed State College, PA

As I write this it is currently 12:30am in State College, PA. Joe Paterno was fired as head coach of Penn State University for his failure to act on the rape allegations brought against one of his former assistants by multiple young boys about 2 hours ago. Students have begun rioting at the university, yet a scan of the local stations via their websites, Facebook pages, and the few that stream shows a complete lack of coverage by the radio stations in the market.

There’s the station that brags about being “Full Service” with no mention on its website, Facebook page, and playing an automated AC format on the air.

There’s the CHR, showing the station staff partying with the students, but yet again no news coverage. There’s the station with no mention whatsoever. And this one. And this one. Both of the stations owned and operated by Penn State itself have no special programming.

I found out the News/Talker covered the press conference announcing the dismissal via a tweet on their sister ESPN affiliate’s site.

The worst offender appears to be Country “Froggy 101” that reported the news, but outside of some trolls from our tweet about it, won’t allow their listeners to discuss the events reshaping their community.

While Clear Channel and Cumulus make cuts and head towards national programming in smaller markets (and eventually larger markets as well), local group owners have the opportunity to take advantage of their cuts and superserve their communities. Becoming just like them will render you useless as you won’t have the resources to compete on a local or national level.

The radio industry has done this to itself. It has the ability to still rectify its inability to serve its audiences in some places before it is too late. You owe it to the people of State College and every other community.

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.

4 Comments

  1. Profile photo of MattParker


    The only way is to roll back to the old rules: Ownership caps and preference for local owners. News and public affairs requirements. Fairness doctrine. Owners complained about them but when they were in place, radio had listeners and radio made money.


  2. Hmm… is it common for small market stations to not cover a major story like that in their area?


  3. Local radio news is heading towards the same fate as buggy whips. It’s dead, Jim.


  4. Rolling back to old rules, of highly dubious Constiutional authority, while the rest of the business world has moved on, will to magically recreate some blissful utopia that exists mostly in the imagination.

    This event happened once in….um….how long? So we’re now to believe that it makes business sense to sit around squandering money the thousands of nights nothing like this happens so that the one night a small percentage of students go bonkers, some night owls can be bombarded with it being mentioned all over the dial?

    Yes, radio was once among the best places for breaking news, but technology moves on. No amount of wishing that everyone still lived by 1975 standards would change what social media has done to transform the world. On all news stations in markets than can support it, there is a place for such things, but as a general rule, companies have to live within their means. It’s time to stop pining for what can no longer be– time moves on, and those who want to stay in the black need to adapt to reality, not fantasy.

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