Friday, July 24, 2009

Media: The Evening Newscast

FLINT, MICHIGAN - As late as 1990, KOMO radio in Seattle, Washington still ran "The News at Ten" each weeknight at 22:00 (10 pm) which functioned in the same way as late-night television news continues to function to this day--a way to find out what was happening in the world before going to sleep. Dennis Shannon, now with KONA-AM out of the Tri-Cities, Washington, was the last regular host of the program before it was replaced with the syndicated Tom Snyder talk show. The program had been a regular part of my day, and I would go to sleep after listening to the nearly half-hour program.

While I thought this kind of program was quite useful, it didn't just disappear off KOMO. Other than 24-hour news stations, news after dinner didn't draw listeners, and it has disappeared off the North American radio landscape.

At least, that's what I had thought. News/Talk 760 WJR out of Detroit still has a program airing along the same lines. The Big Story airs at 19:00 (not quite as late as the tradition, but after rush hour) and seems to be mis-named. Rather than focusing on a single big story for an hour, it actually runs material on all the big stories of the day in depth. It seems to be a true hour-long newscast.

WJR is not some fringe station. Besides being a clear-channel station, it has local personalities like Paul W. Smith and Mitch Albom who have a national profile in the United States. If WJR can run a news hour, then other radio stations of record can do it as well. I wish a few more of them would give it a try.

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