Are school closings needed on radio?

January 30, 2014 01:30

By Chris Carl, RTDNA Chairman

As much as I hate to admit it, gone are the days when kids would wake up early on snowy mornings and turn on the radio to see if school was closed. These days, that notice comes via an e-mail, text message or robocall directly from the school district.

I wonder if your station, like mine, is still reading school closings.  In our defense, our SnoWatch program includes large employers, government announcements, day care centers, higher education and non-profit organizations, but schools are still a central component.

We’ve debated the merits of continuing to include the schools.  Some feel that information is readily available elsewhere (including on OUR website and via a text sent by us), so we should concentrate on organizations that don’t have the infrastructure to get a message out to a wide audience. 

On the other hand, it may be hard to believe, but not everyone uses the Internet or a smartphone or even has access to that technology, especially in rural and low-income areas.  For them, radio may still be their best source for this type of information.  And as someone who answers the newsroom phone on a snowy day, I can tell you that there is still a segment of the audience who turn to us for that information.  (Yes, Johnny, your school is closed.  Go back to sleep.)

Using the comment section, I would love to hear from those of you in the radio community as to how your station is handling school closing announcements.

By the way, this is one of the times when I envy my television brethren.  I wish we could put the information on a lower-third crawl and then go about the business of reporting on road conditions, how much longer the snow will continue to fall, etc.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to run to the store to buy milk and bread.