What Does It Mean To Be Local?

yes, we're local

Dear Christian Radio…What Does It Mean To Be Local?

That question has been tossed around for quite a few years within our industry.  My objective is to explain how Positive Alternative Radio defines local and how that is changing our ministry model within the next five years.

Let’s start with a big confession.  For the most part, we all have the same painting.  By that, most of us play the same songs.  We target the same audience.  We chatter about the same topics.  In other words, we all have the same painting.

So, what makes a station local?  Every picture needs a frame, so the context from which you create that picture is the frame.

Our desire is for our teams to live, breathe and walk the same streets as the listeners and donors of the station.  Why?  Context.

Allow me to give you some scenarios.

A child goes missing in a town.  The entire town is focused on the case.  Flyers are posted on business windows.  Citizens are wearing ribbons.

For those days while the search is happening, who can do a better job at relating to the town?  The station that has talent and staff in that town will be able to craft language, pray on-air and direct people to how/where they can help.

A national network has 500 towns to consider instead of just one area.  By focusing on one need in one town, they will do a disservice to the other 499 towns they are trying to serve.

Advantage: local.

A morning show talent on a local Christian station can talk about going to a “Hope for Moms” class where moms gather to share their struggles and pray for each other.  The local talent can say, “As I was driving to the class and stopped in Starbucks on Peppers Ferry Road, the Lord began to move my heart.”

National talent?  They can throw in that little detail about the location of the Starbucks but it won’t resonate with 99% of the audience.

Do those little details matter?  Yes.  It builds a connection.

Instead of being people on the radio who are distant and un-relatable, the hosts are friends who shop where I shop and buy coffee where I buy coffee.

Being local is much more than weather and traffic.

It’s the context from which you present your life on-air and that becomes the frame of the picture you are creating for the listener.

Some will say, “Local doesn’t matter.  It’s the quality of the content.”

I agree that the content needs to be quality.  But I would add that quality content is being relatable.

The more we can relate to the listener with local “touch points” the deeper our roots will go into their lives.

As an ending note, allow me to throw this stick of dynamite on the fire.

For those of us in Christian radio, our product is the gospel.  The music we play is about Jesus and His gospel.  A lot of our on-air chatter is being vulnerable as to how we live in the light of His gospel.

Since our “product” is the gospel, that changes everything.

Jesus said the gospel was to begin in Jerusalem, then go to Judea, Samaria and then the ends of the earth.  For Positive Alternative Radio, we also see that as a ministry model.  It gives us clarity on how we are to interact with the areas where we have signals and receive support.

We have made a strategic decision that we will not sacrifice Jerusalem in an effort to reach the ends of the earth.

So, that’s the frame for our perfect picture.  The philosophy behind our frame is leading us to action.

Dear Christian Radio….

  1. What’s the frame for your picture?
  2. What’s the philosophy behind your frame?
  3. How will you define local?

 

Brian Sanders

Executive Vice-President

Positive Alternative Radio

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