LIFE IN THE SMALL MARKET
My "Life in the Small Market" story could be titled
"The Accidental Career." Why? Because being in broadcasting
was something of a side job to my intended career: teaching.
For reasons that would take too long to explain, I made a
career change that took me out of the classroom and onto the
airwaves full time in the #4 market in the country (i.e.,
San Francisco). However, since KKIQ and KKDV radio are located
in suburbs outside of San Francisco proper, but still in the
9 counties that make up the Bay Area, these station are technically
in the #4 market. The programming philosophy of both stations
is intensely local. Since KKDV only broadcasts to one county,
and KKIQ serves 3 partial counties, the non-musical content
is about "hometown" issues of the suburban communities
in those counties.
When I started as KKIQ's News/Public Affairs Director in
2005 (KKDV hadn't launched yet), it was a one-person operation.
Even though the title I had sounded impressive, the truth
was I was the only voice on the air that delivered news, traffic,
and hosted/produced the public affairs programming.
My day would start at 4:30am. I would quickly scan 3 to 4
newspapers and look at the AP "wire" to find local,
national and international news. Then I would settle in and
write my six 'casts for morning drive (my first newscast was
at 5:50am). In addition to news, I did the traffic reports,
too. Fortunately, I worked with a traffic producer who gathered
traffic information for me. And since traffic reports aired
every 10 minutes, I had to revise the information very quickly
before going on the air. Because of breaking news stories,
I would often write and revise stories between traffic reports
- not an easy thing to do when you have to deliver a traffic
reports every 10 minutes!
Since the morning shows on KKIQ and KKDV are entertainment
driven, I am often part of the "show"-- trying my
best to provide witty banter while one eye is on the clock
and the other host. From my vantage point of the traffic studio,
I can see both morning show hosts, so I am constantly swinging
my chair around to face one host or the other when it's my
time to do a report.
But fun doesn't end there! My other role of public affairs
director keeps me quite busy, too! I produce two programs
that air weekly on both stations. One program is a long-form
interview show that discusses current news issues. It's called
"In Focus" and you can hear archived programs HERE.
The other program, entitled "Helping Your Hometown,"
spotlights local non-profit organizations in 60 seconds (archived
programs can be heard HERE).
When the owners of KKIQ bought KKDV and launched it in late
July '05, they asked me to do the traffic reports for both
stations. I would retain my public affairs duties, but headline
news would be handled by another anchor. Since traffic conditions
in the Bay Area are quite horrible, traffic news is highly
valued by our listeners. However, unlike news reporting, traffic
reporting is repetitive and can be tedious. Trying to find
new ways of saying pretty much the same thing about road conditions
and accidents can be challenging. But I find that if you provide
the details of what happened in a particular accident, listeners
are not only fascinated by what happened, but are grateful
for the information. I find that I don't have to report the
"gory" details, but by using good sense on what
to spotlight and presenting the information that's not sensationalistic,
listeners get the early word on very useful information that
helps them plan their commutes.
One of the many advantages of working at a small market station
are the opportunities to learn a great deal from the many
hats one can wear. I have learned a great deal about news
writing, news anchoring, commercial production, how to be
an effective interviewer, how to be "quick on the mic,"
and how to bond with listeners so they see you as a friend
and not just "that person on the radio." While many
broadcasting department at colleges and universities are quite
good, learning the ropes at a small market station teaches
you many practical things college radio can't quite simulate.
Many contributors to this page have said it before, but it
should be repeated: learn as much as you can from your first
gig. Ask questions from more experienced co-workers and solicit
their feedback. Doing so will certainly help you attain new
skills that will benefit you when you move on to your next