Associate Member Spotlight: Keeping Radio News Local While Cutting Costs In 2020
By: Steve Gruber, Great Lakes News Radio Network
It has been an intense and unpredictable year when it come to news to say the least. Each time you think we may have a chance to catch our breath a whole new series of breaking stories seem to take over the 24-hour news cycle.
The year began with wall to wall coverage of the impeachment efforts against the President and then quickly made way for the Covid-19 pandemic, and protests turned to riots over the death of George Floyd.
For broadcasters, it all came with a one-two punch. First, the coverage that began ramping up in March and has not let up since, was followed quickly by plummeting sales as lockdowns and forced business closures caused countless advertising budgets to disappear. Some broadcasters saw sales fall by well over half.
This has left many smaller broadcasters, especially those in radio with very tough decisions. Everyone knows running local news is an extremely important part of a station’s identity in the community and it’s an indespensible revenue stream too. Sponsors for local news in key dayparts means reaching sales goals and keeping those in the front office happy.
However, everyone also knows that keeping a local news, sports and weather team on staff is one of the most expensive parts of any radio broadcast operation. It takes a lot of money to keep the lights on in the newsroom.
So, how can a radio station keep the news local but manage the expenses to keep the place running in the black?
Well, Great Lakes News has found a way to do exactly that for a number of stations around the state. GLN is a regional Michigan news company based in Lansing that delivers 14 top of the hour newscasts each day to dozens of stations across the state. GLN gives broadcasters a chance to run adjacent commercials and support Michigan news. One of the most attractive parts of GLN news, are the updates out of the Capital for stations that need that kind of coverage and cannot do it on their own.
The bigger opportunity offered by Great Lakes News however, came when several stations inquired about GLN building localized news for their markets. In one case a longtime news director had passed away and finding a replacement proved to be very difficult. As a result, a cluster of stations partnered with the experienced news team at Great Lakes News to develop local sources and re-build local news. It has been a great success.
The really good news is, the stations are all still putting out a local news product every day but at a fraction of the cost. This means when money is tight, those stations can still get sponsors on board without having to pay salary and benefits they can no longer afford or justify.
This is a big win for medium and smaller market stations that have increasingly struggled with keeping the lights on in the newsroom. They all want local news but fewer stations can afford it each day.
If you would like to find out more about keeping your news local and your station in the black contact Great Lakes News; Info@GreatLakesNews.Org.