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The role of Facebook and Twitter grows at local radio stations


When Tweets become news

Not all breaking news stories heard on local radio stations are uncovered by intrepid reporters digging up the true story. Following extensive budget cuts due to the economic slowdown, many radio station newsrooms are finding themselves augmenting their reduced reporting ranks by monitoring social media sites like Twitter and Facebook where listeners can often provide leads and break news stories.

In a survey of 50 radio station news operations in the largest 50 markets in the country, News Generation Inc, a radio-focused PR firm, discovered that more than half of their respondents rely on social media for story leads from what are now commonly referred to as “citizen journalists,” consumers who uncover and disseminate news. One third of the newsrooms even go a step further saying they not only find story leads but also information sources to help them flesh out stories via social media.

The challenge facing stations that use “citizen journalists” is accuracy and credibility. All respondents agreed that any information from these sources must be very thoroughly checked prior to use.

Many music formatted stations are also realizing the value of embracing social media. Just recently, here in Chicago, Clear Channel added the title of Director of Social Media to the duties of Kiss 103.5 Operations Manager Rick Vaughn and V-103 Operations Manager Derrick Brown. Vaughn will be responsible for social media efforts at Kiss 103.5, WGCI and recently launched Hispanic-formatted MEGA 95.5. Brown will handle similar duties for V-103, 93.9 Lite FM and gospel-formatted Inspiration 1390.

Tony Coles, who oversees programming for all of Clear Channel’s Chicago stations, is quoted as saying, “The continued growth of online communities dictates that we create various outlets for our listeners and advertisers to connect with out stations.”