A new video in production, in support of an exciting and important profession:


Building a radio news capability to connect a community to itself.
       The "how" and "why" of local radio news reporting.

Project listed for completion funding at
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Whether your station has no news capability at all, and you would like to prepare personnel to handle emergency news situations -- or an already well-developed news operation -- these insights from leading professionals will give you ideas on instituting, improving and selling your news capability. Hear interview on this project, May 9 2008 on KSFR-FM (3.6 mb, 5 min)

  These interviews were recorded with seed funding from the Sidney Stern Memorial Trust, The Mosaic Foundation
                     of Rita and Peter Heydon
, t
he Max & Anna Levinson Foundation and the McCune Charitable Foundation (see)

UPDATE: Interviewed at NAB 2008 Charles Osgood, NAB President David Rehr, & others.

HBO "John Adams" series
writer-producer Kirk Ellis


Interviewed: Steve Jones (ABC), Jim Bohannon, Harvey Nagler (CBS), Scott Simon (NPR),
Jonathan Adelstein (FCC), Dave Barry, Davar Ardalan (NPR), Jonathan Alter (Newsweek),
Tim Scheld (WCBS), James Fallows, Hodding Carter and Thom Hartmann.


Features interviews with the following news directors (listed in alphabetical order):

          Dave Curtis, KSSK, Honolulu
          Bill DuPuy, KSFR-FM, Santa Fe          
          Ed Esposito, WAKR, Akron
          Paul Miller, K-NEWS (KNUU), Las Vegas
          Mark Moran, KJZZ, Phoenix
          Jerry Ough, KPFK, N. Hollywood

          Ed Perry - WATD-FM, Marshfield, MA
          Ed Pyle, KNX, Los Angeles
          Crys Quimby, KFWB, Los Angeles / WCBS New York
          Kayla Rosenfeld, KHPR, Honolulu
          Bill Roswell, KYW, Philadelphia

           Deborah Block - Reporter, Voice of America
           Richard Landesberg - Asst. Professor, Elon University School of Communication

Please be assured of our video production quality by seeing the reviews etc. at www.BlueCanyonVideo.com

(UPDATE: See excerpts in video at top)
        New video footage

Scott Simon (NPR)
Jonathan Adelstein (FCC commissioner)
Thom Hartmann   Davar Ardalan

View unedited interview footage (4:51; 9mb, WMV)

Excerpts of videotaped interview "commentaries" for this video:

JIM BOHANNON: For a time news was thought of as kind of a burden…then there came a realization that news could be a profit center. I think news can be a profit center, to the benefit of the station bottom-line and to the benefit of the public… The news doesn't have to pander to anybody, it doesn't mean that the news has to be anything other than well-researched, well-written and well-presented, but it can be a profit center, and that's something I hope stations will realize: Good, local news can sell. It will also enhance the station's image, and it will perform that public service.

HODDING CARTER III: ...People care, obviously, about what's going on in the world, but the stories they really cared about in that town were the ones that were about their town, what was going on in their government, what was going on in their garbage delivery, what was going on in the back alleys and across the street. We figured that our real mandate was to hold up that mirror where we lived, to let people see what was going on around them, what mattered, what they ought to think about.

Local news is the franchise. You can't solve the problems of the world from the Greenville, Mississippis, but you can solve Greenville's, and if you help do that, you get a handle on trying to do something about the world. It's the biggest thing we do, local news. It ought to be, it ought to be the franchise.

DAVE BARRY: I think local news is incredibly important. I get a lot of my material locally, I live in Miami, and if we didn't have local news
coverage, then I as a humor columnist would have to go get a real job.

: At the local level, people have the most control
themselves, as citizens, so if they know about the options facing their
community economically, politically, environmentally, and in other terms -- racially, culturally -- then they can make better decisions in the long run, and if they don't know those things then of course they're
ill-equipped. And that's why it's important to have local news be a focus, especially in this time when the momentum of corporate media run the opposite direction … so I think this is a particularly important time to be in local news.


For several years I've had the pleasure of knowing Jim Terr and his work. Jim is one of the most effective communicators around, and he's certainly tackled a worthy issue in local journalism. This is a collection of very helpful hints and reminders of why we got into this journalism business in the first place. Jim Terr's passion for news is evident throughout. Lord knows there's a need for this video!
                          -Jim Bohannon, overnight talk host, Westwood One
                           2003 Inductee, Radio Hall of Fame

Local news includes local features -- the interviews and insights that make up radio's so-called "driveway moments"

A new BBC documentary called "My Street" supports this idea by reminding us how many untold stories are all around us:

Short YouTube Promo   Article


CONTACT: Jim Terr   505-989-9298   bluecanyon2 -AT- newmexico.com


KSFR NEWS SAYS "NO" TO UNNAMED SOURCE STORIES - Bill Dupuy, KSFR's News Director, has had enough. Dupuy has directed his staff to ignore national stories that quote unnamed sources. Dupuy sent the following to his news staff: "Effective immediately and until further notice, it is the policy of KSFR's News Department to ignore and not repeat any wire service or nationally published story about Iran, China, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia or any other foreign power that quotes an "unnamed" U.S. official. What we have suspected and talked about at length before is now becoming clear. "High administration officials speaking on the condition of anonymity", "usually reliable Washington sources", and others of the like were behind the publicity that added credibility to the need to go to war against Afghanistan and Iraq. We should not dutifully parrot whatever comes out of Washington, on the wire or by whatever means, no matter how intriguing and urgent it sounds, when the source is unnamed."

Excerpts from the video interviews:

Ed Pyle, News Director, KNX News Radio, Los Angeles

ON BEING PREPARED: I think the key is to not wait until there’s an emergency or a catastrophe and at the last minute be scrambling, attempting to figure out what do I do now, how do I get the word out now, how do I collect the word to get the word out. I think what you need to do is really what any large or small news operation needs to do, and that is to assemble the contacts that you need in any given emergency. Have a Rolodex, either in a computer or just an old-fashioned card Rolodex or card file, where you keep current the numbers for the police station, the sheriff’s department, the fire department, the dept. of forestry if you’re in an area where there are national forests where there might be fires, for hospitals, for city politicians, anything of that nature where there could be an emergency that would affect those people, or where you might be able to obtain information from key people who could give you an official or even semi-official word on things.

And keep it current, and to the extent possible, get in touch with people and ask them if you can have home numbers. Sometimes public officials are reluctant to do that, but if you assure them that you will use them only in the case of extreme emergency, generally they will give them to you, and as you don’t use them willy-nilly but rather only in extreme situations, their confidence in you will grow and you’ll more and more be taken into their confidence when you need their help.

So the key is being prepared… If it’s something that’s occurring in a school, and we’ve certainly had some school situations, tragedies even…the more numbers you have and the more prepared you are, the greater the likelihood that you’ll get meaningful information and be able to distribute that on the air.

Keep in mind, too, that it’s important to let people know that even if you don’t have information to any great extent, that you let them know that you’re working on it, that you know that whatever has happened has happened, that you give them whatever information you have about the situation, and you tell them you’re working on getting more, and as soon as you have more you’ll pass it along on the air. The worst thing you can do is to say nothing. People are assured when they hear you say that you know something has occurred, even if you can’t give them anything of substance, just letting them know that you’re aware of it and you’re working on it will give them great reassurance and confidence in you, and most likely will keep them tuned to you . . .

One of the key things is to only report that which you know, that which you have been able to confirm. And generally the rule of thumb that I apply is that you either confirm it with a very substantial person involved in the situation, a key person, a fire captain, a fire chief, a police detective or a police official or a city official… not people who say they saw this or they saw that, or some civilian, but some official source… And preferably, you want to be able to have not just one source, but someone who can confirm that which you heard earlier…

You want to be very careful not to report rumors. In fact, I never the use of the word “rumor” on the air at my radio station. If I hear someone use the word “rumor” I immediately go to them and say that’s not acceptable, we don’t report rumors…

ON NEWS FEATURES: One of the things that I encourage in my reporting staff is that first of all you always have some recording media with you. I don’t know a photographer who doesn’t travel around with a camera in his car, or even to the extent possible on his person. And I don’t know why, if you’re a professional person in broadcasting, you wouldn’t carry around some kind of a small recording device… and have it with you because every once in a while you’ll bounce into a story possibility that you never would have anticipated, just as a photographer will happen upon an accident scene or a very interesting photo opportunity. Well, don’t just think of photo ops, think of story ops…. I often tell the story of a trip I was on in New Mexico when I saw a man leading an elephant down the street in this tiny rural town out in the middle of nowhere. That’s the time for you to jump out of your car and go up to him with the microphone and say hey, what’s with the elephant? … So always be ready to find that interesting feature that’s just a sort of serendipity situation that no one would have anticipated.

ON THE IMMEDIACY OF THE RADIO MEDIUM: After having spent many years in all-news radio, at least 18 or 20 at the time, I was in a situation where I had to work in television. And I was working as a producer in television, in TV news, and it was very early in my tenure there, and someone suggested a story, and I said yeah we’ll call Senator so-and-so in Washington and get a comment from him. And the TV person to whom I was speaking said yeah but what video would we use? And I hadn’t even thought of the use of video because it wasn’t important to me in all the radio days I had spent. And the beauty and instantaneous spontaneity of radio is that you don’t need video; all you need is to be able to tell the story, and if you have sound to go with it, that’s terrific.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A NEWS CAPABILITY: Now you can go into so many smaller towns and cities and find that there is no news coverage or no news coverage to speak of, or just network news and no local news operation. Well, you don’t build any kind of involvement in your radio station with the community if you don’t have local news…. And you want to get the local feature on the air… you want the noteworthy people, the interesting people in your community, you want to get them on the air, you want to build a sense of community, and I think to the detriment of local radio, it’s not happening as much as it should. When I started in small-town radio, we did all kinds of local broadcasts, local remotes, and we had a huge local listening audience. A lot of that is gone if you don’t have a local news operation.

If you are at all interested in radio and in radio news and in making your station special, whether you’re a news person or a disc jockey or a board operator or whatever, get out in the community and let people know you’re there, let people know about your radio station, let them know that you have interest in the community in which you’re living and working, and get out there and know the people, because they will be the source of a lot of news information that you wouldn’t get by sitting in the station or sitting in your car or sitting at home… get out and get your name recognized, because that’s the way to build a really firm foundation with your community, and there’s no better way to generate listeners and generate sponsor interest, than building a strong relationship with a local community.

Mark Moran, News Director, KJZZ, Phoenix

ON THE INTIMACY OF RADIO: There are scores of local stories that give you what they call in public radio the “driveway experience”… That’s (when) you’re listening to a long story… and the story’s not over yet so you sit there in your driveway in your car listening to this story as the neighbors pass by, wondering why you’re sitting in your car, whether you’re doing something illegal…

I did a story on a woman who was arrested six times in the course of two years for drunk driving, and she happened to write a lot of letters from jail…to a person who happened to work at the station whom I knew very well. And I had a chance to look at some of these letters, and they were just the most powerful, unbelievable things I had ever seen written down. They were about the mundane minutia of everyday life in jail, but they were about so much more, about the hurting of alcoholism, about the abuse she had suffered as a child. So I talked to this person to whom the letters were written and I said do you think this woman would mind reading these letters to tape when she got out of jail? . . .

When she did get out for her last drunken driving conviction she came into the station and it was a process of several weeks to have her read these letters to tape. And we edited this down into a 15-minute, really moving feature piece of her reading from these letters, and we mixed some music in with it… you really get a slice of one person’s really incredible struggle to survive this disease that had her in its grip. It was really a moving piece, that sort of driveway piece where people were calling and saying I couldn’t get out of my car, I was just paralyzed, I had to listen to the end of it.

Facing Criticism, F.C.C. Is Thinking Local

By JACQUES STEINBERG New York Times August 20, 2003

With his bid to ease media ownership rules under assault from members of Congress worried by the prospect of greater consolidation, Michael K. Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, said yesterday that he would create a task force to study the "localism" of radio and television stations.

Mr. Powell said that the panel, which will begin meeting next month, would seek to answer such questions as how many hours stations already devote to local issues and "what was the nature and the quality of that local news," with a goal of increasing such coverage.

In a related move, he said the F.C.C. would expedite the approval of hundreds of applications from churches, community groups, schools and other nonprofit organizations seeking permission to operate low-power FM stations. According to the commission, there are about 220 such stations, each limited to no more than 100 watts and reaching only a few miles.

The commission said it had already granted construction permits to 530 additional low-power stations, which is the first step in the licensing. It has yet to take action on the applications of more than 1,200 others.

But the initiatives, announced by Mr. Powell at a news conference that he convened at the commission's headquarters in Washington, did little to sway opponents of the F.C.C.'s decision to ease the rules on media ownership.

"This proposal is a day late and a dollar short," Michael J. Copps, a commissioner who has been an outspoken opponent of Mr. Powell's efforts, said in a statement. "We should have vetted these issues before we voted."

The commission and lawmakers have received hundreds of thousands of complaints since June, after the F.C.C.'s 3-to-2 vote to make it easier for media companies to buy more television stations and to own multiple newspapers and TV stations in the same market.

In response to those complaints, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly last month to block a commission rule that would permit a single company to own TV stations that reach 45 percent of the nation's households. Under the previous rule, a company's stations were allowed to reach 35 percent.
Because a similar measure has strong support in the Senate, the issue will probably reach the desk of President Bush. The administration has generally supported Mr. Powell's efforts but would have to decide whether to veto any Congressional action.

While acknowledging that there was "a deep-seated anxiety in the American public about a commitment to local values and local communities," Mr. Powell did not waver yesterday in his support of the new regulations. He said that the task force, with its examination of the local performance of television stations, would be proceeding on a separate track than the effort to ease ownership rules.

"We heard the voice of public concern loud and clear," Mr. Powell said, "that localism remains a core concern of our public, and thus, I think it is time the commission address it head on."

He said the task force would make recommendations to the commission, as well as to Congress, on "how the commission can promote localism in television and radio."

Nonetheless, he said that he remained skeptical of the notion that "the only way you can serve a local community is by having a small station in a local community owned by a local owner."

Senator Byron L. Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota and one of the leaders in the Senate seeking repeal of the new ownership regulations, said that Mr. Powell's comments yesterday had failed to persuade him of the commission's sensitivity to local concerns.

"It is a very curious strategy for the chairman to change the rules in a way that will dramatically damage localism and then, nearly three months later, propose a process to examine how those rules might affect localism," Mr. Dorgan said in a statement.

Executives at several of the broadcast networks, while welcoming Mr. Powell's inquiry, said they were confident he would find that their stations are sensitive to the needs of viewers on local matters.

"To suggest that a station aligned with a network is less in touch with its community is mistaken," said Linda Sullivan, the president and general manager of KNTV in San Jose, which is owned by NBC. "Building and fostering that viewer relationship is our daily focus."

For supporters of low-power radio, whose efforts at expansion have been opposed by some of the nation's biggest broadcasters, Mr. Powell's remarks were greeted with cautious optimism.

"We have low-power FM's that have been waiting three years to hear from the F.C.C., without so much as a postcard," said Pete Tridish, technical director for the Prometheus Radio Project, a Philadelphia group that builds such stations and advocates on their behalf. "This is a very small step in the right direction."
Mr. Powell has repeatedly defended the ownership regulations as balanced, and affording ample protections for a diversity of viewpoints in an era in which some viewers can choose among more than 500 cable channels.

Mr. Powell said at several points in the news conference that he did not view the decision to appoint a task force on local concerns to be a political one.

When pressed about the timing of his announcement, in the midst of the Congressional outcry over media consolidation, Mr. Powell said: "Why now? Because we are constantly working to try to find the best and most constructive way to serve our public."

New York Times Article