Thursday, July 9, 2009
THE KASEY KRUZ VIEW OF NEWS AND TRAFFIC
Kasey Kruz is the news and traffic director of the Clear Channel cluster in Fresno and also does syndicated news delivery to six other client stations across the Country. Immediate access to information now dominates society. We're in an age like no other where we can log on and get what we want when we want for as long as we want. So, how is this impacting news and traffic in the radio industry? It's hard to say really. Is there a monitoring service that assesses news and traffic reports? I don't know of one off hand, but I do hear feedback from listeners, especially if I screw up a name or leave out an accident in an area not usually covered in the cluster reports. Listeners want quick, concise reports without alot of fluff UNLESS it is entertaining. With traffic, I find that it is far better just to say what it is, where it is, and how it affects the commute. Now, I can indulge a bit if I see a report of 200 sheep causing traffic to come to a standstill on a minor roadway not usually considered a point of interest. The fact that 200 sheep are blocking the road makes it a point of interest. Listeners respond to the craziness of those reports. News, of course, is a different beast. I find that some stations want more entertainment news than hard news. "We like to keep it bright and upbeat in the morning" is the oft uttered phrase, and quite frankly, with all the doom and gloom going on, it's understandable. But, (there is always a but isn't there?) is the lack of hard hitting news negatively affecting ratings on fluffy morning programs? Are people tired of "If it bleeds, it leads" mentality? Some indicators suggest yes when it comes to local news. The current state of radio listenership may indicate that they want something more, something new, something interesting again. I say give it to them. FM Talkers and just now emerging on the scene at a greater frequency than before, and back in the day, FM Talk went over like a turd in a punchbowl, but now I think it's inevitable. That's where is seems to be headed so embrace it and focus on the local. Not just robberies and killings, but the other stuff, like city council meetings, police blotters, feel good inspirational stories of how a cub scout helped the little old lady across the street. Make radio local again and gain back the local audience. Give listeners what they can't get from premium choice; Live, Local, Community based information, and give it to them now, or someone else will. With the obvious financial troubles Clear Channel is facing, there is no doubt that a sell off is coming. When that happens, I see some real programmers snapping up these forced sell-offs for pennies on the dollar and attacking the remaining corporate-run entities with a vengeance. How the battles will be won is through local programming for a local audience. You can't get any more local than traffic and news. With the right people in place, these FM Talkers can be the dominators in the market.