How to be a hyper-local radio station

You are a local broadcaster – own it

Digital broadcasters are in the perfect position to adopt the hyper-local approach to their operation and become a station that reflects their local community.

Part of the mix is having local presenters who can refer to local events and happenings during their links.

But broadcasting local news or news of local events would really give you the edge and drive home just what a community resource you are.

You can gather some ‘news’ by getting yourself on all manner of press release outlets such as your local council, local police, schools…etc.

But perhaps the easiest way to obtain news is to make contact with your local newspaper editor and ask if you can draw on their news  for your bulletins.

They will want something in return though, hopefully something easy such as an on-air credit. “News brought to you thanks to the Daily Echo”, or some such thing.

Depending on how you are staffed, perhaps you can start by recording a daily bulletin – a round-up of the day’s news.

Repeating the news is not ideal, but it’s a start and won’t overwhelm you if you run a small operation – it’s an achievable option to start with until you can recruit enough volunteers to take on the role of independent news gathering and reporting.

You may even be able to have the news sponsored by a local business – which can be fine until that local business becomes the subject of a negative news report. If so, you will find yourself facing an ethical issue. Bite the hand that feeds you, or not broadcast it and risk your reputation as an independent local voice.

If you are not in a position to provide daily news then how about a weekly in-depth news feature? Latch on to a local hot topic and interview people from all sides of the story to produce a feature package.

Apart from the news, there’s your local weather, bus, train and traffic information and local events such as school sport results. Reporting on school sports can be a huge draw card for your station.

Let’s say your local school has 400 pupils. Half of them may play for school teams across dozens of weekend sports fixtures. Every child has parents and grandparents, plus there’s the teachers…imagine the audience for your school sports news show or segment.

Final thought

Should your station’s name reflect your location? Rather than broadcasting under a generic name, how about YOUR TOWN RADIO?

I grew up with Capital Radio (London) and Essex Radio in the county of Essex. The Essex name is long gone, replaced with Heart – which means nothing to anyone.

If you want to be the local station for your area, adopt the name in your brand, nail your flag to the mast and own it.

Steve Hart

Steve Hart

Steve Hart is a journalist and editor based in Melbourne.

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