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Local News and Political Behavior

Nestled here in SW VT there is Town Meeting Day on Monday.  I used to
live in Lowell, MA, where politicals is, without question, a FULL
CONTACT SPORT.  I visit the old city every few weeks and must say that
WCAP (980 Lowell) where I still drop liners and work the website since
my departure, has something I truly miss - local (very local) political
banter. The stuff that makes local elected officials (and even state and
federal, for that matter) listen.  Just like those political newspaper
columns where peoples' names are in boldface, for a pol. to hear his/her
name on such a show counts for ... something.

I'm having breakfast at a small diner here on the eve of the local town
meeting and election and I ask, "So, who's running? For...anything?"  I
get replies like, "Why do you need to know?"  Or, "Well, let's see....."
Radio here is WFAD (1490 Middlebury) a 1 kW fulltimer.  Not to criticize
the morning show as they do a decent job, but there is not that
interwoven political element. Perhaps a "candidate interview" at 8:30
a.m. (live or in the can, no calls) at a time when drive time is about
over.  (Drive time in VT could be an oxymoron, said lovingly.)  Chicken
or the egg?  A local show lacking politics because the market simply
doesn't buy politics (or listen to it)?   Or, perhaps, a local community
keeping politics tucked away with the private matters of prescriptions
and religion because there exists no "link" to such matters.  What I
miss most about hosting a brutally local talk show is the extruding from
that quasi-anonymous (you _do_ get to know who they are...) group of
callers who simply CALL. They pick up on what's germaine or current
because of a couple of factors: 1. they are passionate about something
over which they may feel somewhat powerless to control and/or 2. they
just like to talk.  Okay, 3. maybe their neighbors WILL know it's they
who are calling and a sort of celebrity factor emerges.

This all leads me to the question, how much _can_ local radio impact
upon the political climate of it's ADI?  How much can radio be a basis
for one even knowing there IS a political climate (positions on the
issues notwithstanding?)

Another thing I miss? Those 2-3 minutes that your local politician-guest
is waiting through until the segment begins.  And there's a call

Bill O'Neill

"Be well, do good work, and keep in touch." Garrison Keillor