Studies ran out Aspen Public Radio’s last DJs |

Studies ran out Aspen Public Radio’s last DJs

Regarding the current brouhaha over the Aspen Public Radio format switch, while the idea that “years of data show” that a single-format station is the preferred option in today’s radio world, I would submit that perhaps that data was generated in larger, more diverse markets with many listening options. To argue that these studies accurately reflect the needs of a diverse and far-flung rural community such as the Roaring Fork Valley (an area nearly as large as Rhode Island with a population of about 35,000 people, a good couple of blocks in New York City), however, seems a stretch. And that’s without the admittedly subjective argument I’d make that this valley is not your “normal” (read: average) rural area.

But then, however, the format chosen is … news. Really? In this same fairly small (in population) market we have at least three daily newspapers, two-plus weeklies, four-plus magazines, six-plus radio stations, two TV channels, high school inserts, blogs, podcasts and all manner of social media — all local — and it actually seems that most people now get their news from their phones or online.

And into this news-saturated market APR decides the best move to reflect the perceived needs/wants of the community is to double-down on … news? This seems like tin ear stuff (pun intended) to me. The old marketing cliché that you should “give the people what they want, not what you think they need” comes to mind.

Still, there you have it: Another case of being saved from ourselves by proven studies and smarter people. Phew, that was close! For a while there, I was afraid we were simply going to have to enjoy our imperfect radio station without the benefit of studies. Thankfully now we’re right in line with “the rest of public radio” so I assume we’re safe from … ourselves!

Still, I wonder if “the rest of public radio” treated their volunteer staff of years the way we treated ours? That seems a telling action on the part of APR and if that’s how they “grow, learn and adapt” out in the smart, data-driven world, you can have it.

Tom Egan

Former radio guy, Aspen