OK possibly opening a right can of worms here. Let’s start by saying that every community station is different. Some are local commercial affairs. Others use radio purely as a vehicle for delivering training in ’employability’ skills. Some operate to provide a medium for very specific communities. And there are many others in between.
Unfortunately it seems to me that the term ‘community’ conjures up a vision of middle aged men in corderoys and sandals living out a teenage dream of being a dj. Yes there are some stations like this, without a doubt (and the subject of male/female balance in radio teams is the subject of another post). Wycombe Sound is ‘Local’ . We’ve dropped all references to ‘Community’ in our own marketing. We’ll leave it to others to say “Yes, they really are at the heart of the community” because that way, the term is used in a positive way.
I once had a long conversation with a former commercial radio jock who was running a community station. “How do you organise so much content, so many interviews?” he asked. The answer of course is legwork. Years of networking, visiting local groups and organisations, getting to know people, finding sources and so on.
“But all my presenters have full time jobs” he said.
And there’s the thing. Because I will bet you a pound to a penny that your listeners don’t all have full time jobs.
In our case we are targeting a 35+ audience which is made up of the following:-
In the car
Working at home
Long term illness or disability
Parents at home
Ladies and gents of leisure
Not working because of holiday or illness
and more …….
Presenters and team-members from all the above groups all have value to add to output, and to the health, happiness and balance of your team.
That’s not me in the picture, by the way.
It’s Monday morning, it’s cold and wet and traffic is at a standstill. You’re providing detailed traffic information every 15 minutes. So, while you can’t make the cars move, at least you can keep your listeners informed and entertained. Meanwhile the town’s facebook page is raging with posts from those people who have just got to the office. They are the ones who haven’t tuned into you yet.
There are many good reasons for investing in a traffic information system. We use Inrix media (others are available). Inrix provide traffic information to many of the main UK radio networks as well as other organisations. They have a cut-down version for Community Radio which is available at around £30 per month, which offers, in our case, around a 40 mile radius of our transmitter.
Here’s why I believe this is an investment well worth making:-
Listeners won’t tune away to another station to find out what’s happening on the roads.
It’s a sponsorship opportunity. 3 or 4 sponsor messages per hour has a value.
It’s an important contribution to ‘Social Gain’.
It’s a way of introducing another voice to the mix.
And it’s a way for a new volunteer to quickly feel valued.
Big stations cannot provide the detail which you can.
Listeners love to hear mention of roads which are familiar to them.
A new recruit, a former driving instructor, joined us offering to help compile our traffic reports. He knows the roads and the hot-spots well, but he didn’t want to go on air. Well my friends, within 2 days he was firmly installed in the studio having a great time. Next he set up a twitter account and asked listeners to let him know about anything we weren’t reporting (“as long as it’s safe and legal to do so”). Next we taught him how to conduct and record an interview …. and now he hosts his own programme. This is a great Volunteer Success Story!