Monday, 2 July 2007

When Terror Strikes...

Local radio is great in times of disaster. At least that's what I thought.

On Sunday morning I listened to Radio Clyde (Clyde One to be precise) in Glasgow to get an update and local perspective regarding the events at Glasgow Airport. After all, it's (thankfully) not that often that a terrorist decides to drive a bomb through the revolving doors of your local airport.

I was hoping for perhaps bulletins every 15 minutes or so, as the attack was the previous afternoon... but as it was the start of the Glasgow holidays, lots of people would have been trying to fly away, so cue lots of local info.

And what did I get?

"Ross King... Live from Hollywood"

Surely some mistake?

Nope... Ross King was chatting away about nothing in particular from his LA studio and for a large portion of the show I heard, there was nothing relating to the events of the previous day. Had I missed all the action?

The midday news rolled around and at last, some local coverage... but not to the level and standards I would have expected from a station as large as Clyde, and with such a heritage of providing great news. The bulletin I heard could have been broadcast live from the airport, for example; Just something to make me feel that my station was connected to my area and the story that was still unfolding was being covered from every angle.

The purpose here is not to bash Clyde, as I'm hoping they did lots of marvellous bits of radio I didn't hear relating to the terrorist attack. In fact, I'm sure they did. The point is, if something major happens in your broadcast area... GO BIG!

Never underestimate the audience's thirst for knowledge and their desire to turn to their trusted local radio station as a friend in time of crisis. You can really reinforce your stations credentials as THE local station to turn to.

It works for things like extreme weather (The Radio Forth Snowline in Edinburgh was hugely important for many years) and national stories with a local angle... like murders, kidnappings, riots etc. (A happy topic this one isn't it!!)

I was Programme Director at Capital Radio in London on July 7th 2005 and the attempted bombings in London last week brought back the memories of that day. The skill, dedication and commitment of the whole team at Capital meant that Londoners got all the information they needed to know at any point that they tuned in during and long after the attacks of July 7th. News Editor, Matt Schofield was instrumental in driving forward the information agenda for the station, and Capital regained many lost friends as a result of its actions on, and after July 7th.

I'd rather that people didn't try and blow us all up, that the kidnapping of children didn't happen and that floods didn't cause bodies to float down the river... but if these things do happen, I want my local radio station to really over-deliver in every way possible. That's surely the benefit of being local.

And while we're at it... Ross King wasn't very good either!

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