The Rockford Files

All Local, All the Time

One of the talk-radio stations here in Rockford bills itself as “All Local. All Day.”  It is an interesting slogan, in light of increasing reports of the impending failure of local media; it would be even more interesting if it (or a version of it) were not used by hundreds of other talk-radio stations across the United States.  The station managers and staff may have the best of intentions, but most of these stations are also part of a national (or regional) chain of media outlets, and the “All Local” format is most often a business decision made in a boardroom far from the studio where it must be turned into reality.

That leads to certain anomalies.  For instance, our “All Local” station features a host who lives in, and broadcasts from, Wisconsin—and not just across the border, but about as far away as Chicago is from Rockford.  He is a good host, having actually once lived here, and he is quite willing to talk about Rockford news and controversies.  Yet there is still something odd about the idea of a “local” show originating from someplace that cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called “local.”

Most of the discussion of the potential demise of local newspapers and other local media has blamed their decline on the rise of the internet.  There may be some truth to such assessments, but not in the way in which they are usually framed—namely,...

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