Local Radio Helped Make Me at Home in Texas

From a Wall Street Journal commentary by Mark Naida headlined “Local Radio Helped Make Me at Home in Texas”:

Nothing makes me feel more Texan than rocketing down a 75-mile-an-hour highway in a gas guzzler while blasting classic country radio. Stations that play country music are ubiquitous—it’s the most popular radio genre—but in Texas, the deep tracks are a little deeper and George Strait plays every hour. KVET Austin is my station of choice, and tuning in has helped me connect to the city since I moved here from New York over the summer.

Terrestrial radio is one of the last refuges for local ads, which don’t play on streaming services, national podcasts or satellite stations. I’d much rather listen to a fast-talking ad for Austin’s new Major League Soccer team or a middle-aged host extolling the virtues of pumpkin-spice-flavored Bud Light Seltzer than have podcast hosts berate me to sign up for ZipRecruiter or blow $1,000 on a Casper mattress….

Notices about grand openings, hot deals and new attractions let listeners feel the motion of the local economy. The booming voices clamoring to give you big money at trade-in provide strong evidence for supply shortages and inflation. And the constant chatter about home prices proves the market is hot—so hot that some realtors have broadcast ad budgets….

Even better, most country radio hosts haven’t been infected by the vocal conventions of National Public Radio. They haven’t dropped their accents, and they don’t act as if they are whispering the secrets of the universe each time they speak.

Local radio offers bits of news about municipal life and elections that those who don’t subscribe to a local newspaper may not know. It connects audiences to the seasonal calendar of a place. In Austin, gripes about the summer heat and full parking lots at local swimming pools give way to chatter about University of Texas football and the annual Austin City Limits music festival….

Fiddling with the tuning dial is a good way to root yourself in your community.

Mark Naida is an assistant editorial features editor at the Wall Street Journal.

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