Hey, newspaper editors and publishers, radio’s where it’s at

Newspapers need to start their own live radio shows

As newspapers everywhere fool around with video, Twitter and Facebook, they’re ignoring the one medium that really makes sense for them — radio. This is especially strange given that the only news media habit the internet doesn’t appear to have changed is radio listening. News junkies like me may have given up our print newspapers and TV newscasts, but we still listen to the radio just like we used to.

The ratings for news and information radio — CBC Radio One in Canada and NPR in the U.S. — bear this out. Overall, U.S. radio listening has been trending upwards since 2005.

So, why is information radio holding on so strong?

  1. It tells you what’s happening in the world, offering up a news, weather, traffic and sports package that’s more needed than ever when you don’t subscribe to a newspapers.
  2. Terrestrial radio is still the easiest to listen to. While live streaming radio — on a computer or smart phone — is simple enough, it’s not nearly as reliable as old fashioned AM and FM radio quite yet. Podcasts still take too many steps and too much planning.

With the “internet of things” on its way, however, internet radio is only going to get better and more convenient. And newspapers should be entering this key market now. After all, radio shows have been interviewing newspaper reporters and columnists for years because they go places and do things that broadcast reporters often don’t. No radio or TV station in any major market can match the local newspaper for newsroom size and capacity.

By starting their own news and information radio shows, newspapers can showcase and promote themselves and earn revenues. Here’s what they need to do:

  1. Make a few smart hires from the world of broadcasting.
  2. Build a cheap radio studio
  3. Tell employees to give up their gigs with the competition
  4. Hit “On Air”
  5. Post on Twitter and Facebook that you’re live and people need to tune in

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