We now return to the tea party to continue our conversation with new-media’s Mad Hatters. Read part one here.
We had just learned that according to the Internet, the word local had been transmogrified (in the words of Humpty Dumpty) meaning just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.
Yahoo, in lingua franca only the Internet can get away with, believed that localism is one of the most disaggregated experiences and most promising white space on the Internet.
In other words, Yahoo thinks the locals can’t do localism.
The scary part is that Yahoo might be right. Look at local radio. Today how many stations are centrally programmed from corporate headquarters? How many stations use distant voice tracking? How many syndicated shows have replaced local live shows? It is a process we call the nationalization of local radio.
If local radio becomes nationalized, then the game is lost.
Lost not in the sense that local radio will disappear. There will be terrestrial radio stations for many years to come.
Local radio will lose its uniqueness, however, and with it the ability to charge a premium for its spots. If local radio becomes robotic like Internet radio, then price will be the only determinant for choosing one over the other, and local radio cannot compete with national services on price.
It means that commercial radio groups will have to continue cutting programming expenses, firing even more live jocks, eliminating what few advantages local radio still has.
It is a death spiral that will turn local radio stations into zombies.
Local radio’s greatest advantage over national services in its localism. Rather than cutting back on localism, stations need to work even harder to maintain it. We need to become more local, not less.
Local radio stations that understand this will be the ultimate winners. They will prevail over the national services, and they will prevail over the zombie stations of large faceless corporations.
Live and Local. That has always been the winning formula for local radio. It remains the winning formula in this digital world.