With multiple sources reporting that the audience for Internet radio (such as streaming services like Pandora and Spotify) is on the increase and that broadcast radio is static, the question must be asked: Can broadcast radio survive?
It can if you plug in to the community, says Lynn Sloneker, station manager of Hudson Valley’s WGXC radio 90.7 FM. “Community radio is still relevant and very important in the Hudson Valley.”
Celebrating its five-year anniversary of non-commercial, community-based broadcasting to Columbia and Greene Counties, WGXC has grown its audience to 78,000 potential listeners on 90.7 FM and even more internationally at WGXC.org. (Ironically, WGXC actually began in the digital space, debuting as WGXC.org on May 9, 2009, when the nonprofit arts group WaveFarm launched the station as a community-oriented web-stream service.)
The station’s big-tent, all-encompassing nature has bolstered it as a platform for a robust and local exchange of ideas. The station encourages local participation in the media experience—listeners can call into shows with questions and sign up for weekly DJ guest spots. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Sloneker of the reaction to WGXC’s active role in the community. “We are not passive, and we make sure the local community is reflected in what listeners hear on the station.”
Sloneker adds that the content on WGXC’s 100-plus program lineup is as diverse as its listening community, with programs such as Radio Stew, which examines radio art, radio theater, and experimental art; Bound by Books, which looks at the hottest books and literary topics; and Tell Us A Tale, which invites listeners to submit memorable anecdotes to share on the air.
“We succeed when we connect with people,” Sloneker says. “They tune in to hear one particular thing and wind up staying with us. We keep the conversation going.”
Even digitally inclined Millenials are tuning in, Sloneker notes. “We’re finding, especially among the young people we meet, that radio is not necessarily dead; it’s simply changing.”