The “New Media” compliments radio broadcasting, creates opportunity
By Andrew Harris
It was fun to be invited on the morning talk radio show, “Newsmakers,” with Brian O’Neil on WLEA 1480AM & 106.9FM last week. We discussed the recent news about the wind turbine fire in West Union NY that the Wellsville and Hornell Sun have been following.
At the end of the interview Brian asked off the cuff, “Are we competitors ? I don’t know if we are or not ?”
The interview ended before I could respond, and rightfully so because it is whole different topic, worthy of its own discussion.
First, let me disclose that the Hornell Sun has sought an affilate partnership agreement with WLEA. That request hasn’t been flatly denied, but we’ve received some skeptial “maybe,” replies.
The apprehension is understandable, especially in a very small community. Old media veterans like the Sun’s John Anderson are very competitive, they spent a career working to get the scoop and then the advertising sales. Those two things were extremely connected.
“New Media,” if I can put the Sun into that bucket, are much less competitive. First and foremost because we are investing in an entirely different information landscape than existed at the turn of the millenium. Today, corporate media consolidation has almost ended the newspaper era. The average consumer of media products now has dozens of places to find national and state news. Those same consumers can not find local news and information, or the options are limited. Both Allegany and Steuben County, are what is referred to as a “news desert.” Sure you can tune in and watch Fox and CNN soap boxes and soap operas to find out the every move of President Biden. But you don’t see constant coverage of the elected officials in Belmont, Hornell, Wellsville, and Bath. The limited local media that still exists can really only afford to cover government at a fraction of where the public demand lies.
I think Brian O’Neil will agree that if you combine all the reporting from the Hornell Sun and WLEA, it isn’t even close to the coverage provided by the local media in 1990. If anything, there is more news today than in 1990, before the World Wide Web really formed. Oddly, despite the information superhighway we all travel, local news has suffered years of decline.
Hornell is growing, Wellsville is seeing a very long-awaited upswing. The news didn’t go away and it continues to increase in volume.. The remaining local news need to band together in order to best serve the community, and in turn, the customers.
Advertising dollars are what keep the show going at both the Sun and WLEA. We share advertising customers, and of course there are only so many dollars available. This natural concern is the old media creeping in: get the story first, one-up the other guy, get more ad dollars.
The fact of the matter, as it stands in 2023, only a few local media outlets remain, only reporting the “skim,” of the daily news. Very little in-depth reporting or vigilant public policy watchdogging. We aren’t focusing on the hard work of local businesses as a matter of community news. Schools, outside of sports, are not being covered properly. Considering the tax levy and importance of educating the next generation, this maybe the most glaring example of a gross “lack of coverage.”
These gaps in information, in news, is an opportunity for both the Sun and WLEA. Brand advertising is what our business model boils down to. Our customers want to have their business brand repeatedly presented to potential customers in order to instill the brand in the local economy. The lack of local media makes that time-tested marketing strategy more difficult.
This is where outlets like the Hornell Sun and WLEA have the ability to join forces and forward both information sources.
The Ryan Agency, a growing insurance agency in both Allegany and Steuben County, has already demonstrated the potential. Ryan, a valued customer of both WLEA and the Sun, is a brand advertising genius. If you read the Hornell Sun and listen to WLEA a few times each week then there is no way you can miss the Ryan Agency. If you don’t read the Sun or listen to local radio, you might see scattered “Google ads,” or Facebook posts by other insurance agencies.
If you visit the Sun everyday and tune into hear WLEA everday, then you might wonder if the Ryan Agency is the only game in town…. The two separate media outlets are already working together to build and support a local brand name.
WLEA and the Hornell Sun share the same common goal: To provide the community with information and use that channel to promote brand and business advertising customers. We are already working together, and increased cooperation and collaberation will only serve to improve both sources of information.
So WLEA, let’s rethink the future of the Steuben county media outside of the framework that doesn’t even exist anymore. Working together we can do a better job both individually, for brand customers, and for the community.
We can feature each others reporting regularly, you can invite us on the air to talk about the news of the week. The Sun could have a weekly WLEA roundup on our site, and vice versa. The two local businesses can cross pollinate and benefit from being affiliate partners, and maybe even healthy competitors!
The net result is a healthier local news industry, more community interest in local news and less in national clickbait. Our advertising customers will be better served, our readers and listeners will have more information they can depend on. Let’s start considering each other co-workers and use a healthy competitive relationship to our mutual advantage!