Chicago’s Vocalo reins in eclectic approach but keeps focus on younger audience

Original story posted on Current July 21, 2016 By Tyler Falk “As the Chicago public radio station Vocalo approaches its tenth year, it’s entering a new stage of growth that’s testing its potential appeal to bigger audiences in its city and possibly across the country. Led by then-CEO Torey Malatia, Chicago Public Radio launched Vocalo in 2007 to reach a more racially diverse audience that would reflect its city’s demographics. It has since shifted from its original programming strategy, which emphasized listener-contributed content and social networking. Today’s Vocalo sounds more like a mix of commercial and community radio. Broadcasting from a translator on the John Hancock Center in downtown Chicago and a signal in northwestern Indiana, it features its own weekday morning talk show instead of Morning Edition and a music mix of hip-hop, R&B and indie rock during weekdays. […]

By | July 26th, 2016|Creation, Direction, Intelligence, Interactive|0 Comments

Community Radio Stations are the Peace Corps of Radio

Recently I was fortunate to attend the annual convention of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB). This was an eye-opening experience that helped me understand the critical nature of community radio in our society. The folks who run these stations do so with little money or resources, but they have a passion for serving their local community and for running the most hyper-local radio stations in America. Their conference, organized by NFCB president Sally Kane and her team of professionals, was also the most work-focused radio conference I’ve seen in a while. Community radio stations often work in difficult funding environments, and in rural and non-affluent areas. Community media is often the only locally-based, locally-focused media in communities of color and rural areas, giving it the opportunity to empower audiences and build community. Like commercial radio and the bigger non-comm stations, community radio audiences have continuous access to digital media on a multitude of devices. These stations are competing with quality, engaging programming on-air and through other channels (such as through digital media and live events). Community radio as a group is big and influential. There are 776 community radio stations currently in operation in America, 445 rural and 310 urban. Forty five of the stations are Latino, 52 are Native, and 32 are African-American. Only 404 of them receive funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, so many are 100% self-supported. I went into the conference with a lot of respect for what community radio is about. I came out with even more respect, specifically for the people who are literally dedicating their lives to their communities. Community radio stations and the people who run them are the Peace Corps of radio, and [...]

By | June 20th, 2016|Creation, Direction, Interactive|5 Comments

My Brush with “The Greatest of All Time”

On this day of Muhammad Ali’s funeral, I celebrate his life because he helped change my life. I was nine years old and living in rural north Georgia when my father took my two older brothers and me to downtown Atlanta to see Ali. Not only did we see him, but Ali seemed to come directly to me to make a point. It was the night of October 26, 1970, just hours before Ali fought Jerry Quarry in his first fight after being barred from boxing for two years. The four of us were literally the only white people standing outside the entrance to the Hyatt Regency Hotel front doors and driveway. The hotel lobby and breezeway were packed with wealthy, impeccably-dressed black men and women in top hats and fur coats from all over America and the world. I had never seen anything like this before. An accounting of the scene by Ali’s biographer Thomas Hauser said it was “like something out of Gone with the Wind and probably the greatest collection of black power and black money ever assembled up to that time. They weren’t boxing fans, they were idolaters.”  We waited for Ali to emerge from the hotel and into the waiting limo that would take him to the Municipal Auditorium for the boxing match. […]

By | June 10th, 2016|Press, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Three Headlines, One Story: Radio Still the Cockroach of All Media

Three headlines from today’s radio industry news remarkably capture the lightning from radio’s thunderstorm. More remarkably, radio is not only weathering the storm, it’s showing that once again, “radio is the cockroach of all media.” Headline: “Nielsen Says Millennials Use Radio Less, Smartphones More, Than Older Groups” Real Line: Radio is still the #3 medium of Millennials, and #2 of Gen X and Baby Boomers. Twenty years ago, over half of the choices on the list below didn’t exist. Thirty years ago, only radio and TV would have been on the list. Yes, most of the new media options will increase their share and radio and TV will continue to decline. But, it’s 2016 folks, and we all were told radio would be dead by now. Some still believe it, despite the facts below. “Free” media is still in heavy use amongst all age groups, including the youngest. […]

By | June 7th, 2016|Creation, Interactive|0 Comments