History & Localism of Radio

The community is a place where interests, values, and beliefs are shared, and that includes radio. Specifically, the art of radio first began in communities where small towns used radio stations to keep the community informed of local events. Historically, radio was first introduced as a way to communicate for the Morse code. Additionally, radio was used with ships in the transportation industry. Eventually, talk radio became a means for entertainment on the “open water.” Once radio was launched, people ran away with the idea; some basically began to work out of their garages on their own frequency. Consequently, radio exploded with a variety of different formats, from news, talk, and sports, to the wide variety of music that networks people within communities. These formats make up today’s radio society. (Mass Media & Society)

As time went on, networks began to replace local music, disc jockeys, and journalists. Citizens within the communities stopped hearing local news and became irritated. This prompted the United States Congress to become involve in community radio. Congress then rewrote the rules regarding ownership, character, and content of radio with the institution of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Similarly, polls taken after the 2004 presidential election ranked media reform second behind the Iraq War in regard to issues that needed additional input from Congress (Douglas, MoveOn.org)

III. Localism of Radio

The “Prometheus Radio Project” reported that The Local Community Radio Act of 2005, a bill posed by former Presidential candidate Senator John McCain, opened the airwaves for the largest growth of community radio in US history. McCain also supported the Localism in Broadcasting Reform Act of 2005 that addressed the broadcaster for not meeting its obligations for serving their local community. “The Media often misrepresents politicians’ messages. The goal of the campaign strategists is to get the media to report their candidate’s message in the best light.” (Carvallie, undated) “They avoid serious politics and focus on human interest…and they do all this because this is what people buy, and the profit motive is all they care about.” (Shattuc, 1997) Were these interventions geared for a win-win situation?

Interventions of Radio

Interventions by the government set the public sphere as the pendulum in determining outcomes. “Mass culture achieves increased sales by adapting to the need for relaxation and entertainment on the part of the consumer strata with relatively little education, rather than through guidance of an enlarged public towards the appreciation of culture undamaged in its substance. (Habermas, 1989). Psychographics comes into play when radio listeners participate in surveys, such as the Arbitron Ratings. The Arbitron ratings help the program director of a radio station to review the areas where their listeners are employed, where they reside, and to identify whether or not they like what they hear on a station. To illustrate this, Mary Ellen Kachinske, program director at 101.9 FM, WTMX, Chicago, explained the ratings: “PPM, known as Portable People Meters are digital. It’s not just the station you choose to listen to, but it’s what you’re exposed to. So, everything is rated, your cum, your cumulative audience every week: how long they listen and when they come back, which is time spent listening. They were going to call it “time exposed,” but they stuck with “time spent” listening because if you worked in a Best Buy and you had a meter, Best Buy decided they were going to play Kiss, or News/Talk.   That’s what would register even though your personal station might not be the station that you are exposed to. And that is again where brands mean everything, The MIX is a heritage station and Eric and Kathy have been around for a while. So, if you have enough fans and enough cum, and that audience is big enough, they are going to keep coming back. Even if you screw something up, you can still maintain a consistent performance in the ratings” (Kachinske, 2012).

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