Sunday, May 24, 2009

In Defense of Local Radio

While I am a staunch unbeliever in local newspapers, I am quite fond of local radio stations, as opposed to iPod or satellite radio. I can handle small doses of local news, especially traffic and weather, and Sirius Satellite Radio is not going to give you that, unless they have a station specifically dedicated to, say, Huntsville, Alabama.

Now mind you, that's not to say I don't listen to nationally syndicated programs like Limbaugh or Neil Boortz, but those guys aren't on Sirius. There are times when satellite radio is more useful, like if you're driving cross-country and prefer to listen only to music. Standard Earth-based radio will make you do some hunting and pecking when you get out of range of one listening area and head into another. However, American radio station formats have become pretty standardized, so most areas will have their own variant of a gospel station, an easy listening station, a classic rock station, etc. It might require a few extra pushes of the scan or seek buttons, but if that's the worst inconvenience you have to put up with, there are worse things in life.

One thing that soured me on iPod is that I don't have a lot of "favorite" songs. My problem, not Apple's, I know, but even if you've got seven or eight hours of your favorites running on scramble through your ears at work, after 40 hours or so, even you are sick of your favorites and end up buying more or switching on the regular radio after awhile. You learn to appreciate those "good songs" by putting up with a lot of dreck, I think.

The big argument people have against local radio stations is the commercials. Okay, fine: I have periods in my driving time, usually at the top of the hour, where I have to listen to some commercials. But local radio is still free. What are you folks paying for your satellite radio service every month? Exactly. Cheap is not a bad habit to have. Another advantage of local radio is that you hear about local events that satellite radio isn't going to give you, like a "Free the Hops" event, for instance, or free tickets to XYZ movie theater if you're in the neighborhood of a particular street corner.

Local radio stations will be facing an uphill battle in the next few years, but I'll continue to support them, even if (ulp) I have to pay for the privilege.

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