January 8, 2009

No local owner -- and no local sports

On-line comments today (1/8/09) to the Rapid City Journal regarding Jake Nordbye's story about the new ESPN radio affiliate in town were glowing. Even near legendary broadcaster Bob Laskowski chimed in with a congratulatory note.

Clearly, lots of folks in the Rapid City area are ready for more sports broadcasting, and absentee-owned KRKI is delivering it. Nordbye quoted KRKI program director Lonnie Glasford as saying that only national programming will air on the station, which is found at 99.5 on the FM dial. They "hope" to add local programming in the future.

It's too bad, however, that KRKI didn't pick up the rights last year to broadcast the Rapid City Rush, the hockey team that seems to be taking the area in a.....well, rush. KRKI has tried country music....then Christmas music.....and now casts its lot with wall-to-wall sports.

ESPN is a well-established brand, and they've done well in satiating the appetites of folks who can't get enough sports.

But KRKI's desire to become an "up-to-the minute source" for local sports will fall flat, unless and until they can add that local component. Stations like KOTA in Rapid City and KDSJ in Deadwood (although it fails miserably on local news coverage) have demonstrated what it takes to become sports leaders in broadcasting.

Localism remains the key to long-term survival, a reality that KRKI owner and entrepreneur Victor Michael (Colorado's Michael Radio Group) doesn't seem to embrace.

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