Media Madness in Rural Markets

Media Madness in Rural Markets

Editorial by Virginia Moody
January 30, 2010

The recent shut down of Mandatory FM in Stephenville appears to be only the tip of the iceberg for our rural medias and the market.

On January 18, 2010, MediaNews filed for protection under Chapter 11. The bankruptcy of the holding company that owns newspaper publisher MEDIANEWS GROUP INC. has a radio component, because DEAN SINGLETON’s company owns four stations in the ABILENE, TEXAS area through its GRAHAM NEWSPAPERS subsidiary. The stations include Classic Hits KWKQ (KOOL 94.7) and Country KSWA-A/GRAHAM, TX and Oldies KROO-A and Country KLXK (K-LAKES)/BRECKENRIDGE, TX.

In Eastland KATX struggles with low sales in a limited market with antiquated equipment they can’t afford to update to keep their signal strong and coverage guaranteed with creditors knocking at the doors and liens filed against the owners. On the AM side of KATX, KEAS 1590 recently sold for an unprecedented $90,000 to M & M Broadcasting, Inc. even though KEAS was sold as a “silent” station, meaning it was not broadcasting nor has any plans been announced to put it on the air.

The Eastland Newspaper reflects fewer advertisers yet demands higher rates due to it’s claimed edge in the marketplace. With no numbers to back up the claims, the Eastland Newspaper will continue to survive due to it being family owned and operated, without the debt service carried by the larger more credible news sources.

The Web appears to be the thorn in the side of major newspapers as they scramble to incorporate that service as a source of delivering news to their readers. But in our rural area with only 12% of Eastland County’s population connected to the web, one must ask is the web the answer here?

In my opinion the answer is reporters whether it be web, print or radio. The Eastland Newspaper offers no news worth paying for. KATX offers no news other than obituaries and upcoming events. Locally we can find out more about what’s happening from a news standpoint by either reading the Abilene Reporter or watching local TV out of Abilene. Both of these sources hire reporters and report the news. The Breckenridge paper made the fatal mistake of re-running news out of Graham to fill their paper and no one cared, advertisers and readers alike. Readers are hungry for news happening within their own communities and local newspapers and radio stations are failing miserably. All the local radio stations are on satellite out of LA broadcasting coast to coast. Music is all they play and that’s what they are paid well to do. TSN offers Texas news in a generic format, but nothing local, yet the stations carry that as their newscasts. Texas Agri News offers information for our farmers and ranchers, but like TSN, it’s generic to the State and not local concerns.

The web can bring us National news. The local rural stations can seemingly bring us State news only and there’s no telling what news the papers will show up with.

No matter the media, news is what listeners and readers want. Hire the reporters, give them a beat as in the old days, people will pay to read it, or tune in to hear it, then the advertisers want to be strongly associated with it. My belief is advertiser dollars are down because readership/listenership is down. It’s not the economy, it’s lack of community content.

When you can find out more local information on the Eastland Spin than in the local periodicals or air waves then the mark has been sorely missed by those calling themselves publishers and broadcasters and it’s no wonder they are going broke.

UPDATE:
January 27, 2010
Source: AllAccess Radio website

MEDIANEWS’ bankruptcy was officially filed last week, and, as a result, the newspaper company’s radio operation has filed with the FCC for debtor-in-possession status. GRAHAM NEWSPAPERS, INC. filed MONDAY with the FCC to transfer Classic Hits KWKQ (KOOL 94.7) and Country KSWA-A/GRAHAM, TX and Oldies KROO-A and Country KLXK (K-LAKES)/BRECKENRIDGE, TX to debtor-in-possession status.