Time for Citizen Journalists is Now and Radio On-the-Air is How

Ideas and Issues

Little Rock    As each newspaper gets thinner and thinner, starts cutting days of delivery or like the New Orleans Times-Picayune, going web for those who can access it or afford it in the case of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, or New York Times all hiding behind the “pay wall.”  Television?  What can a community know in the 5 minutes or less of local and national news besides the shots of the most recent car crash or shoot ‘em up in a local barroom?  Bloggers?  Yeah, I’m one of the tribe, but most of us are better at analyzing without our skill sets, and there are few and they are far between that can really break news, as opposed to break the news down to others of our clan.

Sitting here now in my stint as a station manager of a 100,000 watt radio station with multiple platforms to ears and eyes, it gets you thinking.  This is an all volunteer army of disc jockeys, though that term is out of date since most of our crew is plugged in through their computers or ours to the music library.  What’s a turntable, Wade?

But, stay with me on this, if a 100,000 watt station can run and gun with an all-volunteer-army on the music side, what would stop us from organizing a all volunteer army of community news reporters?   Citizen journalists or grassroots journalists as different people call them, might not be the first people to report the fact that war just broke out in the Middle East, but they can absolutely be on the scene when things happen in their communities from break-ins to power outages to the creek rising to community meetings.  School boards, city councils, county commissioners or quorum court members, as they are called here, all are open with citizens on the scene, so why could they not record a summary or a short interview?  Who better to make sure a local rally, an important legislative hearing, a demonstration, a festival, a concert, an art opening, or any number of things have a voice and can inform, education, and, yes, agitate people to engagement and action?

God knows people have something to say, so what could stop us, if we could find enough people interested?

Technology is actually our friend on this front now.  The days of lugging around a tape recorder are long gone.  High quality, inexpensive (around $80) recorders are smaller than most cell phones now and more likely to be lost in your pocket than broken in the line of duty.  And, talking about cell phones, most people that have smartphones among the i-people or the android folks are able to make high quality recordings digitally that converts to electronic files (MP3/s) and, wham bam, it’s on the air!  Ok, maybe, there needs to be a little editing, but then, bam, showtime, and that’s what we could hear as fast-breaking news.

I think we need to re-envision the public affairs side of radio.  Most formats either squeeze the public affairs into the minimum they need to do to satisfy the FCC, and believe me, that’s very minimal, as we all know.  Other formats are all talk, all the time, kill me now.  We need to have REALITY RADIO that is perhaps more real than reality TV, but is about real people talking about real issues, in real time, in their communities and acting as the real “voice of the people,” as we call ourselves here at KABF.  We need to put the public into public radio and empower more people with new technology that allows their voices to be heard not just through their music but through the power of the airwaves.

How about?  Why wouldn’t this work?

Sign up today with KABF and AM/FM, and I’ll make you a reporter, wherever you are, and we’ll make sweet news together!